by Shezad Khan
As an atheist, one of my main goals is to make sure that my outlook on life revolves around peace and love. For this reason, I feel that it’s a shame that several atheist “scholars” have turned to using animosity to preach against those who they disagree with. It seems counterintuitive for these big names in atheism to be using the same tool that religious fanatics use to preach against their enemies – that tool being hate.
This is also an odd situation for me because my family comes from a Muslim background, from Bangladesh, a South Asian country. That means that every time a fanatical Islamic group – ISIL, Boko Haram, etc. – decides to spread their hatred via killing and destruction (the recent tragedy of Charlie Hebdo, for instance), it shines an incredibly bad light on Muslims in general. It has become more and more visible to me that a lot of people in this country generalize Muslims. Yes, it is racist to say that everyone in or from the Middle East is a terrorist, and yes, it is very prejudiced to say that that every Muslim is a terrorist. I may be an atheist, but I don’t ever want to see my family suffer through that. After the attacks made on September 11th, my mom wouldn’t let me go to the park after school – try explaining why to a nine-year-old kid.
So how am I supposed to feel now, that three young Muslim-American adults were killed in North Carolina and no one really seems to care? Three young Muslim-Americans killed “execution style” and the media has chalked it up to a “parking dispute.” It’s just something that doesn’t sit well with me.
Even though it seems like Muslim people are in a bad spot right now, I’m not without hope that there are people out there who understand the difference between religious people and religious fanatics as I do. Luckily, I find myself surrounded by intellectual and intelligent people – especially the friends I’ve made at Portland State. And to those who do want to use hate as their primary tool, I guess I’ll just have to chalk them up as being incredibly ignorant.