Time to move past tribalism

September 13, 2010

Basir Jamil expressed himself eloquently in his article "Growing up Muslim" (Sept. 12). I'm sure he echoes the sentiments of many other Muslim-Americans. His analogy, that blaming Muslims for terrorism is like blaming all Christians for the KKK, had both substance and point.

When I consider discrimination in the United States, two thoughts emerge. Evolution worked to produce an intense, natural inclination in human beings to separate themselves into coalitions; us against them. This penchant for exclusivity had survival value as strangers often posed a threat to one's own group concerning resources, females, territory, etc. Unfortunately, we're still thinking with prehistoric brains. We are suspicious of people we see as different.

Secondly, the U.S. has a history of meddling in the affairs of other nations. This interference, sometimes inappropriate and generally unappreciated, engenders animosity. Other states react in ways to protect their own self-interest, which can include an aggressive response and actuate enmity.

This "us vs. them" mentality can be assuaged with tolerance and understanding. It's been my experience that familiarity with others reveals a universal commonality. We all want the same things: respect, family, peace of mind, creature comforts, and a congenial community in which to pursue our dreams.

John Kehl, Towson

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