free stats Carmen's Web: Just doing my part to improve relations between Muslims and Jews
Saturday, August 19, 2006
Just doing my part to improve relations between Muslims and Jews
I have done the impossible. I have achieved what millions of statemen have been unable to achieve for CENTURIES. I have finally found a way for Muslims and Jews to find a common ground, and get along. Now if the Christians would just find fault with me, I will be able to complete the trifecta, and the world will finally find that elusive peace.

I've been taking post-graduate classes in education and psychology for the past couple of weeks for my New York State Teaching Certification. Interesting classes for the most part, though I can't say much for the majority of the people that I've met. No biggie...every field has its share of imbeciles and like Toots always says, "Carmen, you're not marrying them. Besides, when you see people like that, you can rest assured that you'll always have work!"

Today our groups had to make oral presentations in class. After my group made our presentation, the professor gave us a break and I ran to Dunkin Donuts to satisfy my daily craving for Early Grey tea. On my way back in the lobby I heard one of the Hasidic girls in my class talking about me to her friend who's in another class.

"....yeah, that tall girl in my class, the one with the curly hair [I'm the only tall girl in the entire school, so I know I didn't misinterpret who they were talking about]. The shirts she wears! They're so tight! Did you see what she was wearing today? Her tits are practically hanging out! I just don't need to see that much."

As I passed by her she saw me and turned around, changing the subject quickly.

Now, just for clarification, my tits were not hanging out of my shirt today. My tits never hang out of any shirt I wear, I can assure you that.

I chose to ignore her comments because a). today was the last day of class, b). she has a history of being a dickhead, and c). I was afraid that I was going to do something extremely nasty to her which she would immediately claim as an anti-Semitic; a hate crime of the biggest proportions (she's Hasidic and has to cover her hair. She does this by wearing wigs. My first reaction was to pull it off).

What the fuck is it with these women? These women who hold traditional religious beliefs that force them to dress a certain way and find fault with anyone who doesn't conform to those standards? What is so wrong with you that you feel threatened by my breasts? Do you see me walking around criticizing the fact that you have to wear a wig because your religion considers a married woman's hair shameful?

(On a side-note, I've never really understood that about the Hasidic tradition. If a woman's hair is considered shameful, wouldn't it be better for you to veil rather than wear wigs, which probably look ten times better than your real hair anyway? Aren't you still bringing attention to yourself??)

Anyway, I went back to my seat, fuming. Hasidic girl walks in, has the nerve to look at me up and down, and sits down in the front row.

I read once that Salah El Din's scribe in the 12th century used to drink a cup of water before reacting to something that made him angry. In my classes over the summer, I learned that drinking a cup of water helps hydrate your myelin sheath, which makes it easier for you to think clearly. In non-scientific terms, water helps cool your blood. This is one of the techniques I taught my ADD cousin, and I've been using it before I react to anything. It's been working pretty well.

Anyway, the next presentation had a veiled Pakistani Muslim woman in the group. Ever since 9/11, whenever I see a veiled woman, I turn immediately into Carmen, Defender of the Veiled Woman. I start scanning the area for people who may make this woman uncomfortable by their stares or comments, ready to put them in their place at a moment's notice. I know it's not my job to defend people, but it's an innate thing. Comes from being the first-born...we're always ready to protect people.

So throughout this entire class I was doing just that with that girl. The Hasidic girl stared at her funny one day but didn't do it again, so I let it go.

In the middle of their presentation, Pakistani girl starts critiquing one of the standardized assesments schools give to ESL students. She claimed the tests could sometimes be culturally biased and pointed to a previous question that was given in the form a picture. In this picture, a boy is running after a dog on a leash. The student's job at this point is to write a handful of sentences describing the scene.

As a former ESL teacher, I couldn't really see what was so wrong with this picture and then Pakistani girl led me to the light.

In the Islamic religion, she said, dogs are considered sinful animals and a Muslim should never come into contact with one. If he does, he has to redo his ablutions (fair enough, though I doubt anyone in class knew what ablutions were). It is sinful to have a dog in one's house, and for that reason children grow up to be afraid of dogs. That kind of question on a test would be unfair for a Muslim student since he'll probably be paralyzed with fear and wouldn't be able to answer it. (Come on! You've got to give Muslims more credit than that!). When asked why dogs were considered sinful, she said it was written in Koran that they were dirty animals.

Now, I know that everyone every once in a while is entitled to bullshit a little. And it's okay to bullshit; I do it all the time. But if there's one thing I hate in life, it's misinformation.

I raised my hand, even though we weren't supposed to interrupt the flow of the presentations.

"I'm sorry, what you're saying is completely incorrect. Dogs are not dirty animals and there's NOTHING in the Koran that mentions dogs as being dirty."

"Yes, there is."

"NO there's not. Dogs are mentioned in the Koran a handful of times and none of those times are dogs mentioned to be dirty."

She stumbled over her words a little and then said, "Well, Muslims think dogs are dirty and cannot be in the house."

"No, not all Muslims think dogs are impure, and those who do aren't up on their reading. It's a false hadith that mentions dogs to be dirty, spread by an effeminate man who was afraid of dogs himself".

To which she replied, "Muslims DO think that dogs are impure."

"NOT ALL OF THEM. I, for example, don't."

"Well, what kind of Muslim are you? Look at what you're wearing."

If this were a movie, this is the part where you would start hearing the crickets chirping because of the eternal silence that had just befallen. The entire class let out a gasp, then waited for me to react. Even the professor was stricken dumb.

I looked at Pakistani girl, who was being looked at by Hasidic girl with pride. Here's one woman who covers her hair with a veil, another with a wig, united for a split second in what would probably be the only moment in their lives. Religiousity sure is a bitch.

I sipped my tea and told her, "go ahead with your presentation please" and another member from her group quickly began talking in an effort to defuse the situation. This battle surely wasn't worth fighting. Besides, once a person stoops down to personal attacks, you know that they're not really intelligent creatures and there's no way to talk to them.

But I will say this. Drop me and my tits off to the Middle East and I will solve this crisis for you in no time. Who would've ever known that this was the secret to World Peace?
Thoughts shared by Carmen at 2:24 AM
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Who: Carmen

Mini-Bio:
xx-something egyptia-yorker who's spent over half her life stuck in two worlds not of her own making. unable and unwilling to fully embrace one identity over the other, she created (is trying to create) her own place in the world where people love each other unconditionally, irrespective of artificial boundaries, and where dancing merengue is as necessary to life as breathing air.

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