While channel-surfing recently, I came across a story on ESPN about the Nebraska women’s golf team. A Muslim woman had recently made the team, and that was the first exposure for many of the team’s women to a Muslim.
In the brief time I was watching, the coach was talking about how many of the women on the team were from Nebraska or neighboring states and had never met a Muslim before.
She mentioned there were many questions, and the team was learning a lot about their new teammate.
I noticed that the coach didn’t mention the team all hated their new Muslim teammate because she was different. They didn’t label her a “terrorist.” They didn’t make fun of her, haze her, or treat her any differently.
The coach just matter-of-factly, if not politely, said that the team asked her many questions and learned a lot about being a Muslim.
Because that’s what people do. Living in the United States right now, you would have assumed that the team beat her up, threw her off the team, and burned her home down – just because she was a Muslim.
But that’s not who people are. (Especially those in the Midwest… you know, the ones who are routinely labeled as Trump-supporting, rednick hicks.) When people encounter something they don’t know or understand, most will be curious and take time to learn more about it. Fewer will just ignore it and move on because they figure they don’t want or need to understand. And then yes, a small minority will start making ignorant comments toward that person.
As I was watching, I wasn’t the least bit surprised that the team embraced the Muslim woman, treated her well, and peppered her with questions in an attempt to understand being a Muslim.
There’s an important distinction between being ignorant of something and simply hating it for no reason. Perhaps it’s time we started giving each other the benefit of the doubt, instead of assuming everything is about race.
Unless it is?