Wednesday, July 05, 2017

A Muslim Comes to Minnesota - and Projects

The Washington Post had an article about a Muslim doctor who moved to rural Minnesota. Things started out great but they took a nosedive with the election.

There's a take-down of the article here on Power Line but there are a lot of aspects that they missed.

Dr. Ayaz Virji, a doctor in internal medicine moved to Dawson, Minn. along with his wife, Musarrat, and children. He was given a warm welcome and felt perfectly comfortable in his new home. The butchers even learned how to do halal meat.

Then came the election. Donald Trump carried Dawson by 6 points. Virji was in a rage over Trump's win and began noticing that the people around him seemed to be avoiding him.

He gave a couple of talks on Islam. The first was well-attended and politely received. The second attracted fewer people and was attended by some bible-bearing hecklers. The Washington Post's reporter attended a 3rd talk. Here are a few quotes:

He glanced at his outline and made the point that of course ­Islam has its zealots, and he condemns them.

"But that's not what we're talking about," he said. "Because if you say, 'That's Islam,' then that's like me saying, 'Well, Christianity is David Kor­esh,' " he said, referring to the cult leader.


"So Islam is not what you see on TV, okay?" he said. "I know Fox News. It's not news. It's the WWF, okay? Don't use them as my spokesperson. When you say, 'These people are animals and we have to blow them up,' don't say, 'This is Islam.' It's not. And 99.9 percent of us will agree we need to condemn these people and it hurts us even more because they're saying that God said this? Muhammad said this? Never in a million years."


He began pacing a bit. People were listening.

"Do you guys know who the LRA is?" he said, referring to the Lord's Resistance Army, the cultish Ugandan rebel group blamed for the deaths of more than 100,000 people. "How many of you knew about that? I want you to raise your hands."

Two hands went up.

"How come you don't know about that?" Ayaz said.


He began talking about Trump's former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, who had referred to Islam as a "vicious cancer."

"There are 1.6 billion Muslims in the world! Now, according to General Flynn, we have to purge them? 'We have to purge the world of Islam!'" he said in a mocking voice.


He was far off his outline now.

"You can sense I'm angry about that," he said. "Wasn't Jesus angry when he went into the temple and knoc ked over the tables of the money changers? He was angry. Injustice should make us angry! Okay? I am angry about the election. Because there is injustice there, and I have felt that within my family. And with the burning of mosques? And something like 150 bomb threats to Jewish synagogues? We should think."
You can tell a lot about VIrji from these excerpts, but probably not what the WaPo reporter expects.

General Flynn did not call for eliminating Islam, he called for eliminating Islamists - the same radicals that Virji had already condemned.

The mosque burnings were not the product of hostile right-wingers. The bomb threats were from an Israeli and a liberal.

I looked up the Lord's Resistance Army. It is part of a civil war in Uganda. While it had a peak strength of as many as 3,000 ten years ago, it is currently rated as having been reduced to 100 members. Compare that with ISIS which had a peek strength of 50,000-200,000 and Al-Qeada with 72,000,92,000.

The KKK hasn't had any real power or support since the 1960s and has a membership somewhere in the 3,000-6,000 range (down from 6 million in the 1920s). The KKK was never a religious organization, either. It was purely an instrument of oppression.

So here's the thing: Dr. Virji repeats a lot of bad information while railing at Fox News for giving misinformation. He believes everything bad he hears about Donald Trump and his associates then projects his anger onto the townspeople around him. He is also overly defensive about Islam. The Lord's Resistance Army is in no way comparable to the Muslim terrorist groups, being both smaller and limited to Uganda. Americans haven't heard of it because it is one of thousands of militant groups that have never affected Americans. Dr. Virji knly knows about it because he went looking for militant Christian groups. The only reason for mentioning it and the KKK is a childish "you guys do it, too".

It's telling that Dr. Virji said that people started being distant to him after the election. What changed? The implication is that Trump's election was a signal to start avoiding Muslims but it is very possible that Dr. Virji himself was driving people away. The day after the election he shouted at the hospital staff. And he took the election personally. He cannot believe that the people around him could have had any valid reasons for voting for Trump. He sees the election as a direct insult.

"I think some people are coming from Dawson to be supportive," she offered.

"I know a way they could be supportive," he said, thinking once again of the vote.

"Maybe they are sorry," Musarrat said.

"Would be nice if they said it," Ayaz said. "I don't think they regret it."

So he wants the people of Dawson to apologize directly to him for their vote for president. And, by the way, he seems to be lumping in the 44% who voted for Clinton with the 56% who voted for Trump. Trump won the state so everyone is at fault.

The article implies that the town of Dawson became less accepting after the election but I have an alternate explanation. I suspect that it's a combination of Dr. Virji seeing slights where they don't exist and him driving people away. I'd certainly keep my distance from him after the angry rants the article described. How often has he told the people around him that they betrayed him and that he should quit his job and move? The article quotes him saying that twice.

The Washington Post reporter meant to show how a small town in America become less welcoming to a Muslim in the wake of the election but it really showed how the Muslim in question relies on questionable news sources to feed his sense of outrage then he projects that outrage against people who have done nothing to deserve it. And the Post is so caught up in their anti-Trump narrative that they don't see it themselves.

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