While this column is not about conspiracy theories, some have become topics for articles. Disneyland as a greedy, ethically challenged business seemed an unusual concept to cover. The conspiracy theory that the Medical Board of California unfairly targets mentally ill physicians for public humiliation has come up multiple times. The moans of physicians complaining about the perceived evils of the Board were too difficult to ignore. But the conspiracy theory that there is some kind of plan underway to make American Islam into an ethnicity, or even its own race, has been one of the most convincing ones this column has covered.
Two everyday Muslims (they aren’t clergy), offered their own commentary for this column. They addressed the theory that there is a movement to establish Islam as an ethnic or racial group, rather than acknowledging Muslims only as adherents to the religion of Islam. Interestingly, the idea that Muslims are an ethnic or racial group is often promoted by Muslims themselves. Names have been changed for privacy reasons.
Paul sent an e-mail regarding his thoughts on the ethnic Islam idea. He believes Islam is not an ethnic group, but there are “dumb” Muslims who “live in a fantasy world” in which Muslims all have “a certain background” and a common language. However, he stated Mohammad didn’t place any such standards on his society. He outlined “beliefs and certain practices” for his followers. Paul opined, “I do think that like Christians a lot of Muslim kids will identify as muslims because of their parents which is confusing sometimes.”
Alice had a whole lot to say about this theory. Her response was basically an essay, and it could be its own article. Her response was firm: Islam is not an ethnic group. Here’s an excerpt from her e-mail:
“Of course Muslims aren’t a race of people. Edward Said discussed this as part of his writings in Orientalism. I’d still argue against the Jews being a race, too, as it doesn’t account for converts but whatever, that’s how they identify. And plus it makes them feel connected. I think it’s all part of the whole “group” identity thing that tends to plague humanity over the course of its history. With the rise of nationalism and nationality, group-centered pride, it’s no wonder people are so into identifying with groups. We’re American, but within America we’re something hyphen American, like Iranian-American, or African-American.”