December 02, 2005

Embodying Islam

Last week a bunch of guys wearing the signature bowties and dark suits of the local Oakland Black Muslim organization allegedly went on a rampage smashing bottles, shelving, etc., at a couple of local liquor stores and causing tens of thousands of dollars in damage. A brazen, thuggish operation: they didn't bother with disguises, they didn't bother hiding their affiliation, they knew they'd be captured in minute detail on the security videos causing the damage, and they knew that those videos would be played again and again on local TV, sending a strong and intimidating message to the local community not to mess with them. Par for the course in that part of Oaktown, unfortunately.

But what's most significant here is that Americans in general know so little about Islam as it is in the real world that the local news stations ran pieces explaining that the Black Muslims -- and their forebears in the original Nation Of Islam, with their beliefs in the Mothership, the evil scientist, the bizarre symbologies, etc. -- have little in common with traditional Islam (many Muslims don't recognise them as Muslims in any sense at all). I'd have to say that for many people around here, though, especially in the black community, they (along with a few deeply-selective images of extremists threatening America) probably embody "Islam". Which is a bit like thinking (say) Identity Christians typify Christianity in general....

5 Comments:

At 12/08/2005 8:39 am, Anonymous gelle the great said...

I watched the replay of this throughout my Thanksgiving. It seemed to be the only thing happening in the world.

Presented with ready-to-digest information on a topic (the news feeding you the meaning of "Islam"), I think most people internalize it and take it for the real thing.

And why wouldn't they? We're saturated in the nonsense of the everyday...

 
At 12/09/2005 12:45 pm, Blogger Jimmy Little said...

It was all over the news again last night for some reason I missed (more arrests, I'd guess). If I hear one more reporter or person on the street refer to them simply as "Muslims", I think I'll scream...

 
At 12/10/2005 11:50 am, Anonymous gelle the great said...

You know, Nation of Islam denies any affiliation with the cats in the video. Plus, there were Asian ones! Come ON.

I'm being poppy now. I was planning on responding to your email today. I'm drinking Japanese coffee out of a can. It's called UCC Coffee.

I feel like I've never noticed the overturned chair in your profile photo before. It's vivid. I want to attach a cable between myself and it because I'm half-convinced it can provide life support.

 
At 12/11/2005 11:14 am, Blogger Jimmy Little said...

Well, it's actually plausible that the NoI wouldn't know about what happened beforehand -- they and the Black Muslims don't always see eye-to-eye, and the NoI spokesman looked a little puzzled himself on TV the day it happened. We shall see (or not)...

Coffee out of a can? Ucc indeed.

 
At 3/02/2007 1:45 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is a black muslim... nothing heard like that before.... A muslim is a muslim whether black, pink or white.... It is ridiculous to call a muslim a black muslim.. Cos he is just a muslim, there is no black muslim, there is no white muslim... a a a k syed

 

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