Simon Hardy Butler
Simon Hardy Butler

I Work with a Muslim … and I Like It

Islamophobia is stupid.

The Muslim woman I work with doesn’t wear a hijab or burqa. She has dark hair and a sharp sense of humor. We talk about food a lot. Never once have we talked about politics.

Every once in a while, she fries Oreos in batter for our team. They never go to waste.

The Muslim woman I work with is very smart and is our invoice expert. I often place papers on the ever-growing pile in her office, and she’s very understanding of the fact that I need to check them over and over again to make sure they’re in the right place. The patience she has is reassuring.

The Muslim woman I work with drinks coffee and talks like a normal person and laughs and gets annoyed and breathes and wears clothes just like anyone else. She is a human being. She’s also a colleague.

And I think she’s a good person.

We live in a world where demonizing people because of their religions or cultures has become, sad to say, accepted in many circles. We live in a world where generalizations are the norm, where people ascribe the behavior of individuals to the belief systems of populations, of entire groups. We live in a world where people are misjudging others because of their preconceived notions.

That’s not cool, in my humble opinion. But there’s no reason why we can’t change.

The Islamophobic climate that pervades our being today is as noxious as the traditionally vile anti-Semitism that has fueled bigots for thousands of years. We can stop such prejudice by spurring a greater understanding of our Muslim compatriots, such as the individual I work with. We can talk to them. Befriend them. Realize they’re just like us.

We have to dismiss the idea that any one faith can be innately problematic. We have to accept the fact that hate is not a fundamental part of certain denominations … that it’s derived from personal character rather than whole communities.

The Muslim woman I work with provides sufficient evidence of this axiom. She isn’t, however, the only one. There are millions of others. There are millions of good people around the world.

Recognizing this is essential to our moral evolution as a species.

So I’m going to continue to speak my mind and say that Islamophobia is stupid. The Muslim woman I work with doesn’t judge me for my religion, Judaism, and I don’t judge her. We get along pretty well. She makes a damn good fried Oreo. I like working with her.

If more people felt the same way about folks who are different from them, the Earth would be, I assure you, a greater place.

About the Author
Simon Hardy Butler is a writer and editor living in New York City. He has written for publications ranging from Zagat to Adweek and has interviewed innumerable people—including two Auschwitz survivors whose story may be heard at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s website. His views and opinions are his own.
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