In case you hadn’t heard, last week I started a Political Action Committee called American Muslim Women. The name was easy – I wanted to make sure that everyone knew we were Americans first and foremost. That’s the initial requirement. This group is pretty much limited to Americans. If you don’t identify as an American, if you don’t have any commitment to the well-being of the United States, then you know right away this group isn’t for you.
Next was Muslim. This is a secondary requirement and not even a requirement. It just lets people know that hey, this is going to be about muslims. If you are cool with that keep going. If you aren’t, troll away, I can take it.
Finally came the word ‘Women’ because, as Simone DeBouviour said, I am a woman before I am just about anything else. So, maybe I should have written Woman American Muslim but the membership is not limited to Woman. In fact, we most likely can’t function without men. So, women came last but only because it basically just describes the people for whom this organization was founded. It will concentrate on electing candidates and promoting policies that benefit American Muslim Women.
If you think that means Sharia Law, you’d be wrong because Americans don’t have any law other than the one in our statutes and caselaw.
If you think this means we are anti-choice then you are neglecting the fact that this is about women.
If you think this means we won’t fight against every limitation on religious liberty then you leave out the Muslim part.
Most telling though, is that most people don’t seem to know what a Political Action Committee is. Very well-meaning, and some not so well-meaning, people have suggested that instead of placing ads or doing x, y, and z, we should be educating people about our causes or maybe teach people about Islam so they aren’t so afraid.
Dear reader, there are places and people who do that. Those organizations don’t have Political Action Committee in their name. It is important to understand what these three words mean as well-
Political – meaning involved in civic life, politics, policy.
Action – I think most people have a very odd view of action. Action means doing things. While action can be teaching, to me action is running a marathon and not teaching people the best way to run a marathon.
Committee – It’s a group effort. While I love to be in charge of everything, I will have to include in my vocabulary words like coalition building and consensus.
If you don’t understand Islam or what it’s about or who we are, you should endeavor to find out in some manner. You should meet people who are not like you and then you may have a better understanding. There are issues that are important to me and to others that go beyond making you feel good about the fact that some Americans are also Muslim. I’m not here to show you what a good migrant I am and how I am not here to hurt you. If your knowledge of Islam doesn’t extend beyond memes and jihadwatch I don’t think anything I say will persuade you otherwise, nor will I waste time and, more importantly, money, trying to convince you that we are actually good people.
I am sorry you are afraid. But we are not here to allay your fears through educational outreach, warm fuzzy interfaith town hall meetings or pictures of us posing with GOP senators (although that part would be cool. The GOP should get on that.)
We are here to act. To promote women’s health, to address issues of poverty and lack of girls’ education in our communities (Shocker! We know what the problems are in our own communities and aren’t afraid of addressing them!)
Look, the reality is if people don’t feel like they belong they will turn inward. The best way to get people to feel included is to be involved in civic life, running for office and affecting policy. It’s good preventative medicine for all of the stuff people seem to be afraid of happening in the future.
Oh, and here’s a cool article in the Atlantic