Subversive, goofy hashtags v. sneering silence

In the wake of both Clinton and Trump demanding that Muslims report on hate and extremism in their communities – as if our main function in the US is to serve as perpetual watchdogs in a perpetually suspect group – Twitter lit up with #MuslimsReportStuff.

Hashtags like #MuslimsReportStuff and #CanYouHearMeNow are funny and subversive. They help blow off steam.

But – and many of you will disagree with me – they are sad.

The forced levity reveals the high-pressure stress below the surface. The jokes about Muslims being human, eating junk food, being the wrong kind of sports fans, etc. betray desperate need to be seen for what we are – human, (many of us) American, consumers of Western culture, and therefore unthreatening. In my book, I speak of how, often, religious and hijab-wearing Muslim women feel the need to perform “religiosity lite” in order to humanize themselves in the face of perpetual dehumanization.

I do it too. And it’s sad when I do it too.

It’s okay if you disagree. I get it.

We’ve got to do SOMEthing, blow off steam SOMEhow, make faces, be silly. I get it. But sometimes, I really just want to practice a sneering, superior silence in the face of the torrent of bigotry. 


You see? I did it again.

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