Facebook & Facebook Users:
What you see is not a matter of what is physically there, but a matter of who you are. Your perception of what you see is just a fabrication of our biases. And these differences between us are to be treasured, not feared.
In recent weeks I have become aware that a large number of Facebook Pages (40) which were Anti-Islam have since been shut down. The pages had names which to Muslims would be very offensive — they had names such as “End Islam.” Whoever worked at Facebook saw these pages as “Anti-Islam,” and that is a matter of that person’s individual bias. On the other hand, many Conservatives called those same pages “Patriot Groups.” How we perceive something is a matter of our personal bias. One of the greatest crimes against culture and society is to silence a voice that you don’t understand. Such a judgment is not mine to make, as unlike some of my ‘Conservative’ brethren, I do not hold any animosity to the religion of Islam, often I read comments to the tune of “All Muslims are bad”. That said, I am a Conservative site owner, the owner of a very big site(the one you are reading now) I come from a Muslim family, I am not Muslim, I have become secular and learn to love American culture. My family is not busy beheading anyone, they’re busy going to work, paying bills, and living their lives just like any other American family. My family sought asylum after the Iranian Revolution, and America was hospitable enough to give us citizenship.
When I read a comment on this website that is Anti-Islam, such as “All Muslims are bad” or “All Muslims should be killed”, I don’t give it much attention, despite the fact that the comments are numerous, and are calling my family both bad, and to be killed. I don’t delete the comments, I don’t give them much attention, I don’t really even get offended as after reading such things enough times you scroll over them without much thought. Tolerance as it is measured in today’s world is a term embraced by some, but in reality what it really means is: “I am tolerant only enough to accept your views if you agree with me”. Such tolerance is embraced commonly as a virtue by the “Politically Correct” which is an ailment in today’s society that effects both Republicans and Democrats. Political Correctness is the most dangerous of things, as what it really does is kill language, and scares away thought, scares away discourse. What is a world in which we can’t say what we feel in the fear that it might offend someone?
When I heard news of the “Anti-Islam” pages being banned, I was worried that maybe this page might be banned. I have made an honest effort to never make this page cast vast generalizations, saying something such as “Islam is bad” since I know it not to be, since I grew up around good and loving Muslims, my family. But, I also don’t post a news story when there is a radical Islamic terrorist attack saying “A Bomb Exploded A Building”, it was not the bomb, and it was not just a man, it was a perversion of the Islamic religion, and when such events happen, good and moderate Muslims must take a stand, and say this is not who we are, and demonize all organizations responsible.
Today I heard very troubling news, the page “Uncle Sam’s Misguided Children” a Facebook page with over 600,000 fans, very active and vocal fans, disappeared. To the best of my knowledge, it was banned by Facebook. The USMC page is a very patriotic page, but it is also an Anti-Islam page, I find many of their positions to be misguided, but I don’t hold it against them because I know that many of them were soldiers, and that many of them have experienced recurring exposure to the worst of Islam. How they see Islam, was a measure of their experiences, and whenever I saw something I found offensive, I realized that perspective.
Notwithstanding, if I worked at Facebook, the last thing I would have done is ban the USMC Facebook page. If it offended some users on Facebook, so what? Now, here is a very important point, and one that I hope you take particular heed to: Facebook is in the most objective sense, a private company, and therefore if they want to ban a Facebook group, that’s their right. But, that is not the end of the thought, because in reality, Facebook is not just a website, Facebook is a great utility of our times, a connecting force, a core element of the fabric of our society, Facebook is an extension of us, and a place where people take refuge for discourse. The importance of free thought on Facebook, due to its vast size, is just as important as the 1st Amendment. Even if a voice is offensive, it must be given room on Facebook, since Facebook is such an excellent medium for discourse.
So, I am left in the most stressful of positions. When I saw the USMC page banned, I now fear that my website too will be banned from Facebook. The USMC page was something which was much more offensive than mine, but now that their page is banned, I am left worried Mr. Conservative will be banned.
Maybe you are concerned about this, maybe you like this site, and I would say it would be very wrong for this page to be banned. That said, we must be realistic, this page is political, and it does offend some, and there are some people, very few people, who make so much noise, that they are often given attention: People who are offended will say “Ban Mr. Conservative” “Ban Mr. Conservative, he offends us”. Maybe they will be successful? What they are calling for is not the banning of a Conservative page, they are calling for something so much more dangerous, they are calling for the death of discourse, they are calling for a world where they live around only people who agree with them.
So, I don’t know what will happen at this point, I really don’t. If the Facebook page Uncle Sam’s Misguided Children is not re-instated, or even if it is, every Conservative will have to live in constant fear of being banned from Facebook.
I would like to convey to you, one message, the sum of a virtue I have learned to cultivate… Do not fear argument, do not fear ideas foreign to your own. Political Correctness is not a virtue, it is the death of thought. Claiming you are tolerant, and only accepting the views of those with whom you agree, is a reprehensible hypocrisy. We need offensive ideas, we need plain ideas, what this country needs most is good argument. Good argument leads to deep thoughts, and true and free thought leads to reasonable and effective solutions to problems. Don’t think less of someone for disagreeing with you, treasure the interaction since it is an opportunity to hear why they see things the way they do, perhaps they have something to offer you, and you most certainly have an opportunity to prove to yourself why you believe what you do.
If you don’t like something, never call for it to be banned, treasure discourse, without truly free Freedom of Speech, there is nothing. Our lives are only a measure of our introspective realizations, we can not realize such things without constantly questioning, constantly arguing.
Regardless of what the future holds, I do hope you might hear that message: Argue more, question more, question everything – tell the voices of Political Correctness on either side of the aisle that you don’t care if they’re offended.