Dear White Liberals,
Thanks for contacting me. I’ll be out of state for the next two weeks and therefore probably won’t see your email protesting [pick one of the following: my religion/my queerness AND my religion/my non-binary identity/my pronouns/my religion AND my non-binary identity AND my pronouns/other (please specify): __________]. Since I get a high volume of emails, comments, anonymous harassers and carrier pigeons asking me similar questions, I’ve created this auto-responder to cover some of the most common. I am almost certain that one of these answers will apply to your query.
1. Ha, I’m an infidel! Do you think I’m an infidel? Are you going to bomb me, an infidel, because you’re a Muslim?
A fun fact about me is that I have never actually called someone an infidel in my life. Another fun fact about me is that I don’t care if you’re Muslim or not unless you and I have plans to write a book about theology together, in which case I’m only asking because I want to ascertain your particular areas of interest and expertise. A third fun fact about me is that I’m not a terrorist. But I suspect you knew that already, because you just asked me to bomb you and are still miraculously alive and unscathed.
Look, I know Glenn Beck or whichever quasi-libertarian radio shock jock is in right now told you Muslims hate the infidels, so the first thing you did was went and found yourself a big old “infidel” decal to slap on your car windshield like the tacky 1990s suburban soccer mom you secretly yearn to be. But the truth is, I couldn’t care less if you’re a Muslim, a Christian, an atheist, a pagan or some religion you made up five minutes ago so you could start getting tax breaks. You do you, kiddo.
2. A person identifying as Muslim just did a bad thing. I demand an apology!
From them? Come on, y’all. We’ve talked about this before. I don’t have a direct line to every other Muslim ever, or I’d have spent a month prank calling Bin Laden before turning him in to the authorities. (Or maybe I’d have turned him in, then prank called him while he was in prison? I don’t know. I never got the opportunity to run the scenario.)
If you would like an apology from me, that’s even more confusing, because I haven’t [pick one: shot someone/bombed someone/threatened to shoot someone/threatened to bomb someone/burned down a building/threatened to burn down a building/looked scary at an airport in front of white people*]. If I ever do something like that, I’ll be sure to personally mail you my apology.
Well, come to think of it, if I were a terrorist, I guess you wouldn’t want me mailing you anything. Hmmm. Snapchat?
*[DISCLAIMER: at any given point in time, I cannot claim with any great certainty that I have not done this last one.]
3. You’re either a fake Muslim or a fake queer, because you can’t be both of those things at once!
Oh, come on. Shahar debunked this one ages ago.
There are plenty of queer Muslims in the world. Actually, if I’m the first one you’ve met, you must be remarkably sheltered. There are 1.6 billion Muslims in the world, making us the world’s largest (and fastest-growing!) religion. Approximately 3-8% of people are gay or lesbian, according to polls and educated guesswork. Extrapolating from that number, there are at least 48 million queer Muslims in the world, maybe as many as 128 million. The population of Saudi Arabia, perhaps the most fundamentalist and conservative of Muslim countries, is only 29 million (which, incidentally, means that Saudis are barely 1.5% of Muslims, and fundamentalist Wahhabis even more scarce). I’d say we queers have them beat.
4. When ISIS invades, they’ll kill you first!
Nah. You’re white. They’ll kill you first.
5. You know what I mean! ISIS is going to kill you for being gay!
They’ll kill me for reciting prayers incorrectly first, then for reading unapproved translations and commentaries on the Qur’an, then for having an education. Way down the list, they might get to me being queer.
ISIS probably isn’t going to invade the United States. If they do, we’ll all have bigger problems than worrying about being outed to the Islamic State. Why is this a hypothetical you insist on entertaining? Is it because you truly believe all Muslims are like ISIS? Or is it because a part of you thinks that queer people are an abomination, and it would secretly overjoy you to see us suffer at the hands of extremists?
Think hard about that for a bit and get back to me.
6. Big words from a woman. Did you know you wouldn’t even be able to drive in Saudi Arabia?
Did you know that women drive in Saudi Arabia every day? Pot is illegal in many parts of the US, but I promise you people still smoke it. People find a way.
You’re right. Saudi Arabia is, in many ways, the pits. The patriarchal government there is not kind to women. I’m sure I’d run into issues if I chose to live there. But since the patriarchal government of the United States is also not kind to women, I’ve grown accustomed to the daily denial of my rights by men. The difference between Saudis and Americans is that Saudis discriminate in Arabic, which sounds frightening to white people, but Americans discriminate on comforting media such as FOX News, which speaks a language of bigotry and hatred many Americans have been taught from the cradle.
Muslim countries are, in the minds of whites, some kind of exotic other land where it’s still the Middle Ages (which, if it were true, would actually be great for Muslims, because the European “dark age” was the Islamic Renaissance). In reality, plenty of women in Muslim countries pursue higher education, plenty of them have successful careers, and yes, plenty of them drive. Who do you think taught my dad to drive? My grandfather? Hell no. He learned in my grandmother’s car, like all good Muslim boys should.
Anyway, regarding “women can’t drive in Saudi Arabia” and other general knowledge tidbits: in the words of Selena Gomez, (tell me tell me) tell me something I don’t know (something I don’t know, something I don’t know).
7. Whatever. You’re not even a real woman. You’re a non-binary freak!
Guilty as charged.
I figure this is going to come up eventually, so I’ll just answer it now. I came out to a few people as non-binary recently and then decided to take that show on the road, which has been a terribly scary business, because I’d thought coming out as bi was going to be my last foray into bursting from closets. My pronouns are she/her or zie/zer. Since I don’t care which ones you use, this will not change a single thing about how most people interact with me. The end. I’ll be here all week, tip your sysadmin!
8. Wait, how can you be non-binary and Muslim? When ISIS invades…
I think we’re done here.
I’ll be back with a weekly column starting in the week of Monday, the 20th of July. Until then, be safe and well, and remember: vote for Bernie Sanders in your state’s Democratic primary!