So this guy saw my (re)tweets of the Charlie Hebdo attack in France and decided to have this kind of conversation with me about it. Yoooo. Even I have beef with religion sometimes, but this isn’t how I work it out.
I lost connection halfway through the Great Ocean Road drive I was on though— which I realise was nature’s way of telling me to chill the fuck out and be present at this:
But now that I’m back and looking at this empty white box, my feelings about the bigoted tweets of Espen Antonsen are back.
Why did I fire up this post? Do I want to change his mind?
I almost thought I’d commit to that at first. But I’ve faced sentiments like his enough to know I’m better off eating Maggi with a finger. I mean, there’s the genuinely curious. And then there’s someone who thinks the awful crime in France = the Quran is violent and wants him killed— and can then even confidently lecture another person about a 1,400 year old non-English text like he’s got it 100% figured. He even sarcastically adds “Help me figure it out” like I almost thought he was serious for a second there!
I wonder if it’s occurred to him to doubt for a second that he might not know any more or less about the Quran compared to, oh idk, an actual Muslim. I’m talking basic humility vs. hubris here— of course there are non-Muslims who explore the Quran more than some Muslims, but I’m guessing it takes a lot more work to get there than this guy did.
Maybe he’s convinced that whatever I could know is delusion, but what he knows is inherent expertise-slash-fact that he can mansplain away to me. I mean, he kindly Googled a few links for me to prove the Quran is totes violent. GAME OVER, right?
The best part you guys, the kuah to the cucoq, is he actually tells me “I think you fail to understand the difference between the words in the Quran and your relationship and interpretation of your religion.” Eat your heart out, Alanis Morissette.
At this point, I believe he’s trying to make me see that because the Quran wants him killed, a small minority of Muslims kill. Which leads me to wonder, why is that so important to him?
It’s just that… people, everywhere, historically, have committed murderous shit and justified it with all kinds of reasons, dude. Espen Antonsen is a Norwegian man, but am I looking to him and all Norwegians to renounce mass murderer Anders Breivik? He’s a white man, but do I insist he constantly renounce the white man serial killer stereotype? Do I think white people are being constantly preached to kill me? No, no, and no, but I do wonder why those who do kill never get called “terrorists” as often. I wonder if people like him think about these double standards. And I sure as hell don’t think just because a book terrorists (pretend to) read and is (too) easily associated with happens to be one of the most influential books of all time, that it’s influencing them to kill people, then reduce the politics of their crime to pretty much just that, and then dare someone else who’s read the book to prove (over several tweets) that it doesn’t want to kill me too.
You wanna know what I see? A dude who doesn’t think he’s being bigoted or Islamophobic just because he graciously used “a small minority of Muslims” in one of his hostile tweets. You know, like that actually strengthens his case or something.
But Espen, the fact that you think you totally got a revered text of 6,000+ verses figured out real quick and feel well-qualified to be That Guy being hostile to a totally unrelated Muslim about “a small minority of Muslims” over several tweets sounds REALLY familiar.
It sounds like the people who attack others and claim to do it because of Islam. I sometimes feel sandwiched between people who sound like you, and Muslims with extremist views like them (who also kill Muslims by the way, not just “non-believers” like you). Both extremes are comfortable using that exact logic and are confident enough to commit to hostility with others who got nothing to do with it (in varying degrees of course). You both have more in common than you realise that way.
I’m sorry that I left you hanging earlier on Twitter— although you probably didn’t mind. I couldn’t help but feel replaceable in your Twitter train of thought to begin with. I’m also glad I didn’t immediately rant in tiny tweet-farts right away (an amazing roadtrip helps!) cause I think I normally would, but taking the time to process it here is much healthier for me. I think if the mainstream media has its way, you won’t be the last hostile non-Muslim I’ll need to deal with enlightening me about the Quran. Peace.
(The thing is, there is much to read and talk about when it comes to problematic patriarchal Quranic exegesis and translations— it’s something I’ve been reading about lately, and I’d love to try those conversations sometime. Just not with people who imply I’m only Muslim because I don’t think as critically as they do.)
RIP to all victims of senseless violence. I continue to distinguish between respect for these victims and a distaste for the politics they’re embroiled in.