By Sarah Eckrich
September 27, 2012
Imagine yourself some place where you can easily feed on the conversational fodder of strangers. Perhaps it’s a grocery store. Picture the fluorescent lighting illuminating the stacks of merchandise surrounding you. You’re focused on shopping, minding your own business.
And then you hear a trigger word or phrase. This could be something you really agree with, or strongly protest. It could be a no-no word, an obscure interest, or something strangely relevant to your own weird present circumstances in life. Imagine you hear about hands being cut off in Egypt, coming from somewhere between stacked canned fruits and vegetables. Now imagine that conversation connecting to our President.
The other day I was shopping and from somewhere between rows of sweet corn came, “his father was a Muslim, so you know some of it rubbed off on him.” My feet kind of got a mind of their own, and I found myself shuffling down the aisle and around the corner. I could hear whispers of “him,”and “Muslim,” and “government control.” I closed in on them near a cardboard stand of cleaning products, and hid behind a round rack of clothes.
Two determined men stood face to face, both bearing a countenance of grave concern. Their ash colored brows furrowed in unanimous frustration. One man scratched his side through royal blue flannel. The other, in gray cotton, took a deep breath and looked Blue straight in the eyes. “I still believe he’s got the Muslim extremists behind him. They’re the ones really controlling this country.” Face serious as a heart attack, he nodded, and they both wandered off.
My jaw was bolted to the linoleum. Every thought ceased in my brain with more clamor than screeching locomotive brakes. How can anyone honestly believe something so audacious in these times? How can the Internet coexist with such stunning ignorance? I went home and took off to find the truth—how many people really think this way?
I’m disappointed to report that, according to a recent Pew poll, 17 percent of registered voters falsely believe President Obama is a Muslim. Of that 17 percent, some unstudied percentage agrees with my pair of old men that his Muslim faith is dangerous and is corrupting our government. It is so disturbing that there are people in this country who judge people based on their religious choices. America was founded largely on the idea of religious freedom, and it is desperately tragic that there are still people here holding bigoted views. That “minor” detail aside, it is a well-publicized fact that President Obama is a baptized, practicing Christian.
He has said that seeing God in everyone enables people to see the humanity in one another, and helps him be a public servant. This is easily accessible information, yet some people persist in their ignorance. Surely it can’t be because the truth isn’t out there. That’s when it hit me on the head—these people will never change. They don’t want to, and you can’t make them. They bask in the glory of their garbage-mound opinions and spew them proudly out of their mouths. Despite this, we must learn to somehow coexist. I personally suggest that if you know any of these ill-informed people, you do us all a favor and encourage them to stay home on Election Day this November.