The recent controversy in Walton County over lessons on Islam is small potatoes compared to other uproars around the country.
In Walton, a few parents objected after seeing seventh-graders’ homework about Islam. They complained their children were learning that Allah is the same God Jews and Christians worship. Their complaints were unfounded, given that Allah is simply the Arabic word for God. The school system’s spokeswoman commented that the parents’ main issue seemed to be they didn’t want their children learning about Islam, period.
Conservative blogs and local and national television stations picked up the story. About 100 people crowded into the tiny school system’s board room one night. Some said the school was glorifying oppression of Muslim women and trying to convert unsuspecting teens. Others, including Lumberton’s superintendent, stood by the teacher. A student told the audience that he was definitely not a victim of indoctrination and that his teacher had taught him not to disrespect anyone out of ignorance.
Muslim youths I met around the country told me of frequent teasing and jabs, like this one said to a 17-year-old Muslim girl in Lumberton: “Do you have a bomb in your backpack?” The girl wrote an essay for her English class that could serve as advice for those quick to denigrate all followers of one religion: “I judge people individually because ‘bad’ people come from all races and religions. Luckily, good people do, too.”