That goes without saying, except that today we’re witnessing a dehumanization of Muslims in America’s political arena. No one disputes that every Muslim seeking a visa as a refugee, student or professional must be carefully vetted. We know radical Muslim groups aim to infiltrate Western societies in order to attack and destabilize them. And that calls for extra caution to ensure that they don’t succeed. But to single all Muslim immigrants out, as if they inherently represent a criminal element or some kind of contamination to be contained, is different. Government policies like President Trump’s now quashed “Muslim ban” can unwittingly send that message out.
Nothing will help us avoid such dehumanizing policy missteps in the future like getting to know our Muslim neighbor over a cup of coffee, down the street or across the country. Similarly, Akhtar al-Sinjari’s autobiographical account helps humanize the Muslim immigrant experience. Now retired, al-Sinjari gives us a vivid glimpse of what her coming to the United States from Iraq 30 years ago involved.
If only the media gave us one such story for every account of radical Muslim actions around the world, it might help us remember that our Muslim neighbors are people just like us.