Friday, 10 August 2012

You are what you wear?

So there are two things that I need to continually remind myself. The first is that I can't control everything around me. It's not that in certain circumstances I don't continually try, but the majority of the time, I cannot control what is going on around me. No one can. The only thing I can control is me.

The second is that I need to remember that not everything is a battle. Not everything is a battle that I need to fight, that I need to win. Sometimes I feel like I'm fighting battle after battle. Today, I let one go. I didn't even begin the battle. It's not that I didn't want to, it's not that I didn't want to say anything, But I thought to myself, is it worth it? Is me saying something worth what potentially could be the fall out?

On one hand, yes. On the other, not so much.

You see, I went to my boys' day camp talent show and when I walked in, a person I knew was there. The father of one of the boys in Camden's group. Camden's former soccer coach. One of the parents that sometimes helps out with the boys' rugby team. He's also a teacher at the local Catholic school. So somehow, being a leader in our community, I didn't think he was as....well, stupid I guess would be a good word. Bigoted may be another. Spreading misrepresentation and hatred is another way of putting it.

So I walked in and didn't take much notice of him at first. And then I walked past him to go and speak to Declan. That's when I saw his shirt. On the front, it said “Infidel” in great big letters. Beneath it, I realized that I've come to know more Arabic than I've given myself credit for. In Arabic, underneath, was written “Kafir.” When he walked past me later on, I saw the back – Kafir was written in Arabic again, with a skull missing an eye socket and a sword. The fact that, while wearing that shirt, he said hello to me had me truly wondering – does he realize that a) kafir and infidel do not mean the same thing and b) that shirt spreads hatred and misrepresentation towards a group of people?

Now, if this was my child's teacher? Or a teacher at my child's school? Personally, I do not care if it is summer vacation and he's not wearing it at school. I would be making his school board aware of the fact that this person that represents them, that they are putting in front of innocent children, I would be making them well aware of the hatred they are spreading in the community. I have to wonder still again – when his children asked him what that word meant (because I'm willing to bet quite a bit that he actually thinks that the Arabic writing says “infidel”) he told them? Did he tell them that he's mocking an entire religion? Did he tell them that he's spreading hatred towards a group with a word whose historical beginnings was actually a word that his particular religion used towards Muslims? Or is he teaching his children to hate as well?

Now, it's not that I don't believe in freedom of expression, freedom of speech.  He's more than free to wear that shirt or shirts that degrade or show his beliefs for all the world to see.  Just like it's my right to believe him to be a bigot, or at least incredibly uneducated in the truth about a) the word infidel, b) the Arabic language and c) a major world religion.  

Honestly, it wasn't a battle worth fighting. What it did, though, was allow me to see someone's true colours. A person who while he may be a teacher and in a position with many children who is in a position where he should be held to a higher standard, he literally wears his bigotry on his shirt. I thank God that my children do not go to the Catholic elementary school in my community. At least that way I know there is one less person who will hate my children for their religion in a position of authority over them. I just feel sorry for my friends whose children do go to that school, who may end up with him as a teacher. I pray he keeps his bigotry to himself in his classroom and doesn't spread hate to kids that shouldn't learn it at school – shouldn't learn it ever.


  1. Asalaamu Alaikum

    This is kind of how I felt today when someone who I thought was open-minded started talking degradingly about Natives. Most people or should I say all people don't know that I am Ojibway because I'm what I call myself ' a watered-down Metis'. I wanted to say something but its Ramadan and I knew I was going to lose it so I just left. This has happened many times to me. Also when people start talking smack about immigrants and I 'm married to one plus the people who are talking are all descendents of immigrants and really only I should have an opinion. Ahhh...anyway that was my day. As for you I would have felt upset too. Its as if he wanted to start a fight. Or sometimes people put us in a different class..yeah we are Muslim but we are white so really we are with them. Sigh.

  2. Yup. and it's not as if he didn't know that I'm Muslim and that my boys are there and that they were there this week. He'd have seen them every day when there himself. Oh well. You know the good thing about shirts like that? It allows you to know who the stupid people are up front. You don't have to guess.