An old history teacher of mine once said that people are incapable of seeing the endless things they share when these common aspects of life stand in the shadow of their few differences. The differences of which he spoke promote unwarranted bias and prevent the advancement of all of humanity and even promote acts of war. Chief among those differences is religious belief. People treat people with a different religion with such great intolerance. They will either discriminate or commit hate crimes just to get their point across. For a country whose bill of rights promises the free practice and exercise of religion before all other things, this fact is startling. From islamophobia to anti-Semitism, religious intolerance presents itself as a growing issue in the United States. However, the problem isn’t a domestic one; the issue persists globally and continues to cause conflict between countries and social groups.
The issue at hand must be addressed, and the programs that attempt to correct the current state of religious tolerance aren’t working well enough. These programs attempt to promote religious tolerance through diversification and education. University programs attempt to subject people to more belief systems than ever before, and public schools teach students the beliefs and practices of religions new, old, and unfamiliar. This sort of constructive action definitely helps to reduce the insecurities that religious diversity creates, but it still only magnifies the differences between those who practice separate religions. It may improve relations for some, but for others it may have a negative effect. The true solution to the problem is to promote a philosophy that allows people to maintain their faith and simultaneously grow tolerant of people who maintain a different one. While there are many philosophies that fit these criteria, Humanism is by far the most promising due to its current popularity and its noble roots in renaissance culture.
The Problem at Hand
In "Islamophobia and its Discontents," Laila Lalami references many instances in which regular conversation and discourse is interrupted with spurts of whimsical racism. Her success means nothing in the eyes of the religiously intolerant; as they force her to realize that she is Muslim. She shares some hate mail she received after publishing her first book, "[W]hat are you? MUSLIM OR HUMAN BEING. IT’S IMPOSSIBLE TO BE BOTH AT THE SAME TIME" (Lalami 21). The hate and injustice that Lalami faces from day to day doesn’t start and end at hate mail. She also reports several instances in which strangers would claim that her husband purchased her for goats or camels and that perhaps she has a bomb in her vehicle (Lalami 21).
Lalami reports that approximately thirteen percent of religious hate crimes are islamophobic whereas less than one percent of the population is Muslim (Lalami 21). This data is disproportionate. The hate crimes against Muslims should theoretically...