Elise Bellin, Librarian of the Islamic Resource Center, wrote this book review as part of an ongoing series that focuses on a range of books within the IRC collection as a service to the community.
Blaming Islam by John R Bowen (2012)
We live in a time where everyone is blaming someone else about something. Too often, this leads to violence and some of the worst acts a human being can do to another or to the masses. Increases in racial and religious violence seems to constantly be in our faces. We are quick to blame any new or different face with the availability of jobs that we may or may not have tried out for, we blame differing points of view or belief systems as corrupting today’s youth, even without knowing what those beliefs are, and we say that if you don’t love the same things we do and in the same way that you are evil and I am not.
One group that unfortunately has taken much more blame than it deserves is the faith of Islam and its followers, Muslims. In the book, Blaming Islam, John Bowen takes a look at some of the rhetoric surrounding Muslim immigration and its so-called incompatibility with Western society. It is a short book, but he covers some decent ground. He takes the time to dispel many of the exaggerated fears built out of misconceptions and misunderstanding of history and multiculturalism in general. He even looks at the way these misconceptions and misunderstandings shape government, law and policy, and ways in which this might have been better applied to create a more equal situation instead of exacerbating an increasingly bad one.
I wish I could say that a book that is eight years old is starting to get out of date, but the drastic rise in religious-based persecution and hate crimes makes it even more relevant now than it was almost a decade ago. If we were to be a little more introspective and a little less on blaming thoughtlessly, maybe we wouldn’t have this problem but one only need look at the last few election cycles (even within party lines) to see that probably isn’t going to happen anytime soon.
Founded in 2010, the Islamic Resource Center (IRC) is the first Islamic public lending library in Wisconsin. The IRC aims to provide resources to educators, students, health professionals, interfaith groups, and any members of the Milwaukee community that want an accurate understanding of the Islamic faith, its practices, and its people.