Blogging from A to Z Day 14: “Non-Muslim” vs. “American”

N is for “Non-Muslim” vs. “American”

NIt has always been one of my biggest pet peeves when I hear Muslims refer to people who are not Muslim or cultural practices that conflict with Islamic practices as “American.”

“They go to an American school.”

“One of my American friends…”

“That is so American.”

I don’t like it. It doesn’t sound right. I am American. How can we refer to non-Muslims as American when we ourselves are also American? That goes back to my bi-cultural issue I posted a couple of weeks ago.

What really bugs me is when American is used in a derogatory way. “Only Americans do that.” “That is something those Americans do.”

As I have gotten older, the phrase “white” has replaced “American” in this context – as in “Why are you being so white?” or “My white friends don’t understand how…” – but the problem is still the same.

For most of my mature years, Muslims seem to be trying really hard to get America as a whole to understand that we are just like you. So many movies and plays and spoken word pieces all stress how normal Muslims are and how everyone should accept us because there is nothing wrong or strange with us.

We keep trying to promote the “we” when the language we used behind closed doors promotes a “them.” Calling ourselves American in public, but referring only to non-Muslims as American in private, needs to stop. How can we expect non-Muslim Americans to accept us as American when the only time we actually identify ourselves as American is when we want sympathy, and all other times reserve the term only for something that conflicts with Islam?

Of course, not everyone does this, but we all know the game. We know what is meant when the term “American” is thrown around in reference to an other, and only rarely do I hear it corrected to non-Muslim. And I find it offensive, to myself, as an actual living, breathing, Islam-practicing American.

It is offensive, and frankly, inaccurate. It is okay to make a point, that non-Muslims have a different mindset than Muslims, but let’s keep the language accurate. The “other” is non-Muslim, in a grammatical sense. However anyone born in America, or permanently residing in America, is American, regardless of religion.

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3 thoughts on “Blogging from A to Z Day 14: “Non-Muslim” vs. “American”

  1. ann bennett says:

    I don’t know how old you are; but, this is said like a true Yank. LOL

    Muslims have had to take too much inspection and unnecessary comments in the United States, I do think people who talk this way are the minority. It is just that they are so loud and obnoxious.

    As far as the American comments. We are an unpopular nationality. Our country wields a lot of power and everyone likes to be the boss.

    Anyway, take care. I am visiting from A to Z.

  2. […] Source: Blogging from A to Z Day 14: “Non-Muslim” vs. “American” […]

  3. Carrie-Anne says:

    I’ve been around Muslims my entire life, particularly the Iranian family my family were friends with when I was growing up. It would never even occur to me to consider Muslims as non-Americans. This is just the latest form of xenophobic nativism, which in the past has targeted other groups, like the Irish, Italians, Chinese, Japanese, and Eastern Europeans.

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