Saturday, March 12, 2016

I Don't Hate "Us," I Am "Us."

"I think Islam hates us.... There is an unbelievable hatred of us...." You mean all 1.6 billion of them? "I mean a lot of them."
This rhetoric is not new. The accusations have become common. Muslims who have fought, even died, for this country are not exempt.

Too many people in the United States actually believe 1.6 billion people are carbon copies rather than individuals - and that the lives of 1.6 billion people revolves around hating the United States.

Never mind that 1.6 billion is a huge number, about one-fifth of the world's population.

Never mind that those 1.6 billion people are spread throughout the world - different ethnicities, different languages, and different cultures. 
  • Asia has the largest number of Muslims in the world. 
  • There are more Muslims in the United States than Afghanistan. 
  • India, where Muslims are a minority, has more Muslims than the entire Middle East combined.
No, none of that matters.

What matters is that some Americans are convinced Muslims cannot be "American." That Muslims are not "us."

What is an American anyway?

Wearing Love Glasses at
Mt. Rushmore, Custer, SD
Funny enough, I have never really considered the question. I am an American. I know I am an American. I have never questioned whether I am an American - not even when others have questioned it.

I do not think anyone else who believes they are American questions it about themselves either - not even Muslims.

That is not to say the question or insinuation itself is not offensive to Muslims - as it would be to any other person believing themselves to be American.

So what makes a person an American?

Is it citizenship or nationality? If you are born in the United States, born of a United States citizen, or completed the Naturalization process?  Technically that makes you a United States citizen, but that isn't really what's being questioned, is it?

Is it geography? Technically the entire continent is the Americas. While Canadians may not claim to be "American," many people further to the south lay claim to the title and are offended by people from the United States claiming to be the only Americans.

It is definitely not religion because that would get really dicey with all different faiths, even Christian faiths, in the United States - now and throughout history.

Is it ideology? A belief in life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? A belief in freedom and liberty? I would suggest many people believe in those concepts that have no claim as, nor claim to be, Americans. 
My name's Donovan. Irish, both sides. Mother and father. I'm Irish and you're German. But what makes us both Americans? Just one thing. One. Only one. The rule book. We call it the Constitution, and we agree to the rules, and that's what makes us Americans. That's all that makes us Americans. - James Donovan, Bridge of Spies
What a great answer! Absolutely beautiful! 

But is it true?

Since most Americans do not know what the Constitution actually says, I think not. Unfortunately.

Wearing Love Glasses at
Crazy Horse National Monument, Custer, SD
In the end, I think it comes down to two simple requirements:
  • You have United States citizenship, and 
  • You believe you are an American - that this is your country.
That's it. Period.

I am an American.

I am Muslim.

I do not hate "us," I am "us."

I am not the exception. I am the rule.

Deedra is originally from Arkansas; an attorney in Scottsdale, Arizona; a thought-leader and keynote speaker; founder of The Ambassador Project; and has a blog at where she shares her perspectives based on questions and experiences. Follow Deedra on Twitter @askdeedra

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