There are defining moments in every culture’s history. As far as American culture is concerned, we are in a transition period from an era where same-sex behavior was universally condemned to an era where it is universally accepted. In the future, I want to be able to look back on my life and say, in that important historical moment, I did what I could. I didn’t let that moment slip by while remaining silent or indifferent with regards to the truth. If I had been alive during the 1960s during the “Sexual Revolution,” I would like to think that as a Muslim, I would have been equally vocal in resisting those sweeping cultural changes that were going to negatively impact my people — the American people — on every level: materially, economically, spiritually.
Today, Muslims have been so beaten down that they are too afraid to let out even a peep of protest (i.e., those Muslims who haven’t already joined in the LGBT jubilation). Sure, people say that to oppose this cultural revolution is to be “homophobic” and insensitive, but we don’t have to accept that narrative or let it define us. We should forcefully oppose it and assert that Muslims can be principled about this issue and also be compassionate and understanding to those who are struggling with such desires. (And yes, there are many Muslims who have same-sex desires but they refuse to let that define them and refuse to call themselves LGBT — these brothers and sisters need our support.)
For those who are constantly preaching the importance of “American Islam” and how Islam needs to be relevant and part of the wider American cultural conversation and how Muslims needs to be a prophetic voice for all, now is the perfect opportunity — a historical moment of great significance. Yet they make every lame excuse to remain inactive and silent. Chief among those excuses: Look we are a minority. Most people here aren’t Muslims. We can’t expect others to accept our moral values. If we speak out, there will be backlash. This issue is not a priority, etc., etc.
As I have said over and over again, the only public issue Muslims have proven to care about is “Islamophobia” and racism because that’s the only social issue that directly impacts Muslim comfort levels and it fits in with a very popular national narrative. And I’m not saying that that isn’t a worthwhile cause but other issues that are far more negative in terms of sheer number of lives destroyed, both Muslim and non-Muslim, Muslims don’t speak out on, or advocate for, or even have on the radar. When was the last time you heard Muslims on a national level, as Muslims, protest the surveillance state and domestic spying? How about Wall Street corruption? How about alcoholism? How about minimum wage and the wealth gap? How about single parenthood and abortion? Criminal justice reform and the prison industrial complex? Usurious banking and financial structures? Militarization of the police force? The dissolution of stable families and the epidemic of institutionalization and assisted care? Rampant consumerism? Labor rights? Are any of these issues “important” enough for Muslims to come out and say, “We *as Muslims* do not stand for this”? Or is the only time we find a collective voice is when we are apologizing and offering condolences for some mass shooting, and only then because we want to avoid backlash?
So, it’s not really a surprise that Muslims have decided to sit back and watch things from the sidelines yet again. But next time I get lectured at by a Muslim “leader” on the importance of being principled and following in the footsteps of Malcolm X or Muhammad Ali, I will know what all the bluster really amounts to. You want to claim Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali for yourself, but you don’t want to face the unpopularity, the hardship, the backlash that they faced? Ok.