Silence speaks louder than words
By: Anthony Moretti
Perhaps the tide is turning. But even if it is, all of us who believe that anti-Muslim rhetoric and actions are wrong must remain vigilant.
A couple of months ago, the FBI released its Hate Crimes Statistics report for 2020. The good news, and that term must be carefully used, for the Muslim community and its allies is that reported hate crimes targetting Muslims fell in 2020 across the United States. According to the FBI, there was a 38 percent decrease in such attacks from 2019 to 2020, a figure that seems even more surprising because the overall number of hate crimes rose in 2020 with attacks targeting Blacks shooting up dramatically.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations consistently documents anti-Muslim activity in the United States, and the information it collected and published in its 2021 mid-year report offers a sobering reminder that hate is an experience too many Muslims throughout the U.S. face each day. The report carefully documented roughly three-dozen cases, which ranged from school bullying to attacks on mosques.
Because none of these attacks took place in or around Pittsburgh, it might be easy for Muslims and Muslim advocates here to shrug our shoulders and say that the problem is “over there, somewhere.” We must not do that. While Pittsburgh might be a safer place for Muslims in comparison to cities bigger and smaller, the bitter truth is hate doesn’t stop at a city or state line. Consider this: Did any of us anticipate that a madman would walk into a local synagogue on a late October Saturday in 2018 and murder 11 people? Sadly, it takes just one person and one action to open our eyes again to the realization that hate can be found anywhere.
Yes, Pittsburgh’s political leadership seeks to demonstrate support for all people, regardless of skin color, faith and more. And, yes, the U.S. is again led by a man who respects diversity in all its forms. Nevertheless, each of us must do our part by supporting our Muslim friends and refusing to accept attacks against Muslim men, women and children. Our silence in such circumstances would echo louder than our words ever would.
One of the hallmarks of my Catholic faith is found in the Gospel of Matthew: “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” One of the hadits of the Qur’an offers a similar message: “Do unto all men as you would wish to have done unto you; and reject for others what you would reject for yourself.” All of us must be guided by those overlapping messages.
My family is honored to count Muslims among our friends, and they’ve been far more generous to us than we will likely ever be to them. But when the oldest son of one of our friends asks if he may pray in our home, which has happened more than once, I’m humbled because he knows he may display his faith without prejudice or fear.
May all of us have a moment like that in 2022.