Cultural Competence: ISIS Edition

Cultural Competence: ISIS Edition

Discussing ISIS in a way that does not contribute to the problem is something we can all do, and should.


In no way am I blaming the U.S., France or the United Kingdom for the actions taken by ISIS. However, I am blaming us for the perpetuation that Muslims are evil, and Islam is causing these attacks.

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) started in the Middle East, and is spreading throughout the world. This extremist group does not have a single head of operation, much unlike previous terrorist groups such as the Taliban or Al-Qaeda, which makes it nearly impossible to kill swiftly, like we like to pretend.

(Sorry Trump, but putting "troops on the ground" does not solve the whole problem.)

Little did you know, the end goal of ISIS is not to kill every single Western person that comes into contact with them, although it does seem to be a symptom of the problem.

Unfortunately, the best way they recruit is by showing young, vulnerable Middle Eastern kids the propaganda that is being spewed against them, especially in the United States. (Looking at you, Tomi Lahren.)

When you see entire "news" networks defaming your religion, your culture, and your country, you tend to get angry, as Republicans can certainly admit to.

These kids that they recruit are alone and scared, and they create the same mentality as a gang or a cult. ISIS provides safety for them (from them) and revenge against the people causing them rejection and hurt.

Now, their main target was never America, or France, or England, but since the outlandish criticism of all things Middle East (or all things "not like us"), they have started attacking the people who talk the worst about them. People in the Middle East are attacked on a daily basis, and while the media does not focus on that as much, the sure do focus on attacks in London, Orlando, and Paris. For every attack in a Western nation, there are way more in the Middle East. While these attacks should be covered they need to covered in a different way.

ISIS is NOT the same as Islam.

Just like the KKK is NOT Christianity, they are not the same. Until you read the Qur'an and understand what Islam is really about, stop telling people it's a violent religion. Religions by nature are not violent, and Islam certainly is not. We need to ensure we are not portraying all Muslims as terrorists. Seeing a man wearing a turban on an airplane and fearing for the flight's welfare is institutionalized discrimination, and we need to stop painting it as okay. The claim that you can't help it is no longer an excuse. Train yourself to be tolerant, or keep quiet.

American airports are doing security wrong, in my opinion. Instead of searching every fifth person, what if we only targeted people who fit the description of someone who may be planning an attack on a plane? By this, I don't mean all Muslim-looking people. I mean men, age 20-50, as that makes up almost the entire demographic of ISIS members. Women and children have not been found to be a national security threat, and while profiling is a necessary evil, we are doing it wrong.

This idea is rough, and not perfect, as I am no expert, but I think it's safe to say we can be smarter about who we are spending our time on, and who we should be taking closer looks at. If you are a man age 20-50 who travels often, or is not planning on bringing explosives on your trip, there is a security bypass you can apply for, which puts you on a list that let's you skip the security check. This would cut down on sheer time needed for every single man age 20-50.

But all in all, it boils down to this: If you do not believe you are culturally competent enough to discuss Middle Eastern relations, then don't. The way we are handling our relationship with Muslim Americans, evem Muslims across the world, is wrong and insensitive.

We, as civilians, cannot stop ISIS. It will take a long time, and a complex plan. But we can help stop propaganda of Muslims' evilness.

Cover Image Credit: New York Times

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This Is How Your Same-Sex Marriage Affects Me As A Catholic Woman

I hear you over there, Bible Bob.

It won't.

Wait, what?

SEE ALSO: To My Closeted Self, I Have Something To Tell You

I promise you did read that right. Not what you were expecting me to say, right? Who another person decides to marry will never in any way affect my own marriage whatsoever. (Unless they try to marry the person that I want to, then we might have a few problems.)

As a kid, I was raised, baptized, and confirmed into an old school Irish Catholic church in the middle of a small, midwestern town. Not exactly a place that most people would consider to be very liberal or open minded. Despite this I was taught to love and accept others as a child, to not cast judgment because the only person fit to judge was God. I learned this from my Grandpa, a man whose love of others was only rivaled by his love of sweets and spoiling his grandkids.

While I learned this at an early age, not everyone else in my hometown — or even within my own church — seemed to get the memo. When same-sex marriage was finally legalized country-wide, I cried tears of joy for some of my closest friends who happen to be members of the LGBTQ community. I was happy while others I knew were disgusted and even enraged.

"That's not what it says in the bible! Marriage is between a man and a woman!"

"God made Adam and Eve for a reason! Man shall not lie with another man as he would a woman!"

"Homosexuality is a sin! It's bad enough that they're all going to hell, now we're letting them marry?"

Alright, Bible Bob, we get it, you don't agree with same-sex relationships. Honestly, that's not the issue. One of our civil liberties as United States citizens is the freedom of religion. If you believe your religion doesn't support homosexuality that's OK. What isn't OK is thinking that your religious beliefs should dictate others lives. What isn't OK is using your religion or your beliefs to take away rights from those who chose to live their life differently than you.

Some members of my church are still convinced that their marriage now means less because people are free to marry whoever they want to. Honestly, I wish I was kidding. Tell me again, Brenda how exactly do Steve and Jason's marriage affect yours and Tom's?

It doesn't. Really, it doesn't affect you at all. Unless Tom suddenly starts having an affair with Steve their marriage has zero effect on you. You never know Brenda, you and Jason might become best friends by the end of the divorce. (And in that case, Brenda and Tom both need to go to church considering the bible also teaches against adultery and divorce.)

I'll say it one more time for the people in the back; same-sex marriage does not affect you even if you or your religion does not support it. If you don't agree with same sex marriage then do not marry someone of the same sex. Really, it's a simple concept.

It amazes me that I still actually have to discuss this with some people in 2017. And it amazes me that people use God as a reason to hinder the lives of others. As a proud young Catholic woman, I wholeheartedly support the LGBTQ community with my entire being. My God taught me to not hold hate so close to my heart. He told me not to judge and to accept others with open arms. My God taught me to love and I hope yours teaches you the same.

Disclaimer - This article in no way is meant to be an insult to the bible or religion or the LGBTQ community.

Cover Image Credit: Sushiesque / Flickr

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The Influx In Political Tell-All Books May Say A Lot About Us As A Culture

With the release of James Comey's book, a definite trend has emerged. Why might that be?

This week, former FBI director James Comey’s book, "A Higher Loyalty," was released. It is one of many recent so-called political tell-alls to be released. While the books, such as Hillary Clinton’s "What Happened" and Michael Wolff’s "Fire and Fury," are no doubt interesting, what is even more intriguing is their reception by the public and their overall popularity as a genre of nonfiction novel. A question that is often asked in response to the surge in popularity of these books, all of which sold remarkably well for political novels, is simply why. Why now?

Why are so many people so interested?

The first question is, perhaps, a bit easier to answer than the second. Since campaigning began for the 2016 presidential election, it has become increasingly clear just how divided the United States as a whole is. The result was the election of a man who, regardless of which allegations one chooses to believe or ignore, is viscerally disfavored by the majority of the educated and metropolitan public. Someone who, depending on who you ask, was either named to the presidency or elected by the inhabitants of the country’s rust belt and backwoods.

Those on the other side claim that he is what is necessary to improve certain aspects of their lives. The point is that the educated public of the country, and everyone abroad, are extremely curious as to how the political discourse dissolved to a point where this could happen. So saying, books written by people who actually were there as this unfolded tend to sell as a bit of insight into the event.

This explains the second question to some extent as well. There is a significant portion of the general population that was completely baffled by what has happened and continues to be with every passing day. Every poor decision leads us all to ask again: how did this happen? So, the books help to explain. By the same token, most of the content of these books support the ideas that what is currently going on behind the scenes is a complete and utter train wreck.

So, put simply, the books serve as a way to set the confirmation bias of the people reading them.

The other interesting aspect of these books is the praise that is applied to them which is usually saved for the best of the best among journalists. That is that these books are the “first draft of history.” An interesting claim, to be sure, but is it true? The trouble with the phrase is that there is no way to support it, it's just an ego booster for whoever wrote whatever is being discussed.

There is no way to know what history books of the future will contain and what they choose to omit. There are, after all, those who still see Christopher Columbus as a hero and Richard III as a murderer. But the fact that we, the public, are calling these tell-all books that highlight the hot mess of our political landscape does say a lot about us.

It seems that in large part the popularity of the books on the scale we see is, above all else, a reflection of how we see our current place in history and how we think it should be remembered. There is an old Chinese curse, often attributed to Confucius, that simply says “may you live in interesting times,” and there is no better indicator that we do live in interesting times than that we are effectively willing to read about our own current events as an interesting bit of history through these books.

Cover Image Credit: Giammarco Boscaro

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