I’ve been reading with interest the recent articles on Europe’s struggle’s with their influx of immigrants. Angela Merkel ‘s ratings in Germany are lower than they’ve ever been and the Christian Democratic Union recently suffered a defeat in a state election by an anti-immigration party. Denmark, which has long prided itself on its progressive policies, is suffering a blow to its self-image, as it deals with the realty of integrating newcomers who aren’t so readily adaptable to traditional Danish culture. France, with its very secular government, issues the burkini ban, though this has been overturned in the courts. And Britain exited the EU altogether, with immigration being one of the major reasons.
In the U.S. Presidential candidate and Republican nominee Donald Trump is known for his hard stance on immigration. He has issued calls for bans on Muslims entering the U.S., said that he would build a wall between Mexico and the U.S. to secure the border, and deport 11 millions undocumented immigrants. This has been with widespread approval among his supporters, most of whom are Caucasian. When he appeared to be softening his stance, there was an immediate backlash.
I live in a small Appalachian town in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia. It’s usually voted one of the coolest small towns in America. We recently had one of many local Fests. Since these tend to get widely publicized and b/c we have visitors coming in for plays at the Barter, there were a LOT of people on the streets. I saw a number of Muslims, and the women were fully covered, including headscarves. I went out of my way to speak to them and welcome them to our town. My conversational Arabic is somewhat rusty, but I managed. When I left, though, I wondered where they were going to eat. We have no halal restaurants. Hell, we don’t have any kosher or vegan restaurants, either! This is strictly a town for omnivores! Had my apt been in better order, I would have invited them HERE for a meal, since I’ve had to go dairy-free/gluten free so I do a lot of vegan meals. (I do have a dog but would have confined her to bedroom.) My pots wouldn’t have been halal, though, since I have cooked meat in them in the past.
Why is there this fear/discrimination across Europe and in the U.S. against immigrants? In Europe it is largely against Muslims; here it is against Hispanics AND Muslims. Is it because they have darker skin? Different customs? Different religion? This should not be viewed with FEAR! We live in a global society society now. Let us learn to respect that others have different customs and know that this can enrich our society. And as to a different religion, Muslims seem much less aggressive, institutionally- speaking, than do Christians. Among my Muslims friends, not a one has ever made an effort to convert me or told me I’m going to hell. I don’t see Muslim televangelists or find Muslim persecution-movies, such as God’s Not Dead. Yes, there ARE terrorist organizations such as ISIL, but those are run by extremists. As an atheist, I don’t support any religion and think all should be practiced privately, not state-supported in any way. But I do NOT want to see anyone discriminated against merely for holding certain religious beliefs.