Are you Muslim? Do you find it hard to convince people that you’re NOT a terrorist? That’s as it should be, writes Ben Pobjie, but he’s gunna help you out anyway
Right now the important thing is not to panic.
It’s very easy at times of stress and tension to go off half-cocked and run about doing all sorts of rash things. Yes, you should tell yourself, a vicious terrorist cell may have been discovered operating in Australia. Yes, we may have come perilously close to seeing a deadly attack on Australian soldiers on our own soil. Yes, we must now spend the rest of our lives in constant fear, every fleeting moment of joy or pleasure tainted by the knowledge that it only brings us one second closer to the inevitable bullet or car-bomb. But we can adjust without going crazy and wreaking bloody vengeance on our Islamic brothers and sisters, no matter how much they may deserve it.
Still, Australia’s Muslims do have a responsibility here. As many of our finest pundits have pointed out (including well-known comparative religion expert Andrew Bolt), all Muslims who wish to live in this country have a duty to speak out — loud and long and publicly — against terrorism in all its forms.
Now some of the Muslims reading this may be thinking it’s enough that they don’t actually commit terrorist acts, but I’m afraid this is wrongheaded to the extent that it perpetuates a stereotype I have just made up of Muslims being extremely wrongheaded about things. Not committing terrorist acts is enough for actual Australians, who follow proper religions (ie Jesus), but when a person makes the decision to be a Muslim and adopt a Middle Eastern appearance, they make a decision to assume certain burdens. One of these is that they must make every possible effort to assuage the reasonable suspicion that they are a terrorist. Comes with the territory, I’m afraid. Is it fair? No, but I don’t remember anything in the Australian Constitution about being fair to Muslims, and it’s this attitude of trying to contradict the Constitution that makes us suspect these people in the first place.
So with that in mind, I’ve prepared a list of handy hints for Muslims who are eager to put the rest of us at ease and ensure that we don’t shudder with dread every time we pass a Muslim or a kebab shop or a Crazy John’s outlet. Just follow this five-step plan, Muslim brethren, and we can all get along. No need to thank me. Just don’t kill me.
Tip 1: Make sure you denounce terrorism. There’s nothing more suspicious than a Muslim who, the day after a terrorist attack, goes peacefully about his or her normal everyday life. You must make sure that, instead, you let everyone know just how much you denounce terrorism. Try to slip it into ordinary conversation at work, for example:
CO-WORKER: Did you watch MasterChef last night?
MUSLIM: No, I couldn’t … I was too busy denouncing terrorism.
CO-WORKER: That’s a relief.
See how the relationship instantly becomes more relaxed and comfortable? Your co-worker will now know you do not approve of terrorists, and will be less inclined to look askance at you and steal your pens.
Tip 2: Tell everyone that you yourself are not a terrorist. The real trouble with terrorists is that they look just like you and me, particularly if “you” are Lebanese and “me” does not actually refer to me. But basically, if you are a Muslim, there is no way for people to know you are NOT a terrorist unless you tell them. You should tell them as emphatically as you can, preferably by putting your face as close as possible to theirs and shouting “I am not a terrorist!” at the top of your voice. You can use variants of this as well. You might want to say, “I have no plans to plant a bomb in your office,” or “I have no close links with violent militants.” To put everyone even more at ease, you might want to follow these pronouncements up with a low chuckle, or even a wink. This will keep the atmosphere light and cheerful. And remember not to restrict this to your friends. Tell everyone — strangers, shop clerks, the police. Government officials will be especially relieved at the news, so if you are passing a government building, military installation, or major piece of public infrastructure, it is advisable to pop in and say, “I am not involved in any terrorist plots against you!” so as to avoid ambivalence.
Tip 3: Convert to Christianity. This is what might be called an “optional” tip, but is nonetheless advisable. The advantages of conversion are manifold: you will no longer be regarded as suspicious for your Muslim leanings; you will be more readily accepted into Australian social occasions; you will find it easier to make new friends; and of course, you will not suffer in hell for eternity upon your death. So any Muslim looking to assimilate should definitely consider Christianity as a tactic. Admittedly, the abandonment of a deeply held and cherished faith could be a wrench.
Tip 4: Do not associate with other Muslims. Everyone knows the old saying: “One Muslim is just a guy, but two Muslims are probably going to rape you.” Australians — that is, normal Australians — can get used to the sight of a Muslim among them. But, if Muslims start associating in packs, we are bound to get jittery. It’s not our fault; we Anglo-Australians can’t help this propensity to notice the sproutings of evil. So Muslims out there should be very careful to restrict their circle of friends to non-Muslims, so as to avoid creating the feelings of alarm and anxiety that grow in every honest white breast when it passes by a group of swarthy-looking fellows, smoking unfamiliar cigarettes and slyly stroking their fundamentalist moustaches. By contrast, a Muslim among non-Muslims is a delightful figure. Every Muslim should ingratiate himself into such a clique, where he can take the role of the amusing foreigner, making everyone laugh with his silly accent and comical misunderstandings of basic Western cultural mores.
Tip 5: Try not to say anything controversial. This is quite important, as controversial statements can arouse suspicion among the press and cause them to uncover your links to Abu Bakar Ba’asyir. Even on the off-chance no such links exist, it’s still not a good look. Try not to say anything that will upset people, offend people, or illustrate your medieval, inherently bloodthirsty worldview. Topics to avoid include: how good it would be if Muslims conquered the entire world; the thriving Israeli baby-meat industry; women in low-cut tops and things that they may or may not be asking for; football.
Topics that are acceptable for Muslims to discuss include: the richness of Middle Eastern cuisine; the comedy of Akmal Saleh and how important it is for Muslims to be able to laugh at themselves; how we all, essentially, worship the same god; Dancing With The Stars.
So there you go. You are now armed with the basic tools you need to make your way in a liberal Western democracy without unnerving those around you, forcing your religion down others’ throats, or drawing attention to your primitive customs and all-consuming hatred of this decadent cesspool we call Australia.
And in this way we can all live in harmony, side by side. All it takes is a little tolerance, a little give-and-take, a little effort on both sides. As long as the Muslims among us make the effort to constantly and deliberately distance themselves from psychotic murderers and reject extremism, and we other (real) citizens make the effort to constantly and deliberately tell the Muslims to keep doing it, this can truly be a paradise on earth.
Of course, when it comes to the actual paradise, we won’t have to worry about the Muslims anymore, so that’ll be good too, huh?