Every Once in a While, A Glimmer of Hope…

Several Facebook friends have shared a report from occupy democrats.com suggesting that not everyone has succumbed to insane Islamophobia:

Over a dozen girls from Vernon Hills High School are participating in the “Walk A Mile In Her Hijab” event, which aims to help spread awareness of Muslim cultural traditions and help combat the rising tide of Islamophobia in America.

Their principal, Jon Guillaume, has applauded the plan and the girls for their cosmopolitan interest in other cultures and their courage in standing up for their Muslim peers in these troubled times.

“I think it is a difficult time to be a Muslim student in our high school, in our community and in America. I think this is an opportunity for our kids to embrace the Muslim community within the school. For other kids outside of this organization, to understand what it’s like for these girls to walk through our halls in this garment in a way that stands out from other kids. So, I’m proud of them.”

We should all be proud of these brave girls for not only showing such support for the Muslim members of their communities but also, sadly, for enduring the consequences that donning the headscarf might bring. Since Donald Trump and other Republican candidates have begun their latest round of fear-mongering and discrimination against Muslims, bigoted attacks against innocent Muslim-Americans have sharply risen.

At some point, perhaps humans will redefine the “us” and “them” categories.

Here are my candidates: “us” will include the entire human race, with the only exception—the only “them”—being the bigots, haters, self-aggrandizers and other damaged and deranged people who, it is important to note, can be found among every race, religion and nationality.

The parents of these girls should be so proud. They’ve raised real human beings.

Welcome to “us.”


  1. Before commenting on today’s issue I am going to presume on my long time participation on Sheila’s blog. My granddaughter Ashley will not be with the family today for our Christmas celebration; she will be in the operating room at Riley Hospital for Children participating in 8 to 10 hours of surgery and the aftercare, performing heart transplant on a small child. Please send prayers, from all denominations, and your good thoughts to the Riley Hospital’s amazing pediatric surgical team and the patient that all goes well. Thank you!

    These girls are to be commended and supported; they have made a decision which will form their future lives. They will need great strength to continue in today’s chaotic religious frenzy led by those with political power who demand xenophobia and racism from their followers. These girls are leaders – not followers – they have bright futures ahead of them. May they be safe; their support doesn’t end with the end of their march, it is now part of their inner makeup and their lives. I stand with them in spirit if not in person.

  2. Nevertheless it wouldn’t be an awful idea to take the few inflammatory vitriolic passages in the Quran, publish and teach reinterpretations or revised translations of those passages as ancient revisionists or copyists have done with some Bible passages. I wouldn’t be surprised if that has been done to some extent at Vernon Hills High School.

  3. JoAnn,

    Praying and wishing that you and your family will have a Merry, Merry Christmas.


  4. JoAnn, Thank you and best of wishes to your granddaughter, and may, I, too, hijack Sheila’s site for a moment, to remind everybody that they can contribute to the James Whitcomb Riley Foundation, supporting Riley Hospital (or just about any other charity), by simply shopping on Amazon through smile.amazon.com instead of amazon.com. That allows you to pick a charity, and Amazon sends 0.5% of every purchase to your charity. We usually support our own son’s charity, Kidstruments Fund, but in honor of your daughter, we are going to switch to the Riley Foundation for our purchases through the end of the year (and we do about 80% of our non-perishable shopping there). We will also add it to our end-of-the-year donation list for our own donations. Thank you for reminding me of the amazing and important work done right here in Indy.

    Sheila, sorry about the hijack.


  5. I read the article at your link. I don’t really hate individual Muslims anymore than I hate individual Christians or Jews. I am, however, anti- religion because I continue to believe that the damage religions do to society is as harmful as any other divisive, anti-social behavior (on the large scale). To me all religion is based on a tribal mindset and little can be done to change it; it is firmly entrenched into the practitioners by their religious leaders and many (not all) have given themselves up to their “faith” by suspending their willingness to consider alternatives to accepting things they can’t explain on “faith”. Where does that get them?

    I have to think that if there were a god, she would stop “testing” humanity and start controlling the loose canons acting in her name. But that just doesn’t happen and the insanity continues.

    Jo Ann: I am thinking positive thoughts for your granddaughter. I have 3 of my own and grandchildren are special.
    To the rest, happy non-denominational holidays.

  6. JoAnn – I’m sending prayers for your granddaughter and all of your family.

    A prayer of thanks is also going up for those thoughtful girls who wore hi jabs to ‘walk a mile’ in others shoes. What a wonderful example they are to all of us.

    Yesterday a Catholic friend published two pictures on Facebook side-by-side of a Catholic nun in a habit with her head and neck covered and her floor length, non-fitting ‘gown’. Next to her was a Muslim woman in a hijab with her head and neck covered and the non-fitting, floor length gown. Not so different.

    Here’s wishing that we all are inspired by our better angels this holiday season and throughout the new year to treat others as we wish to be treated.

  7. We humans in many ways are not all the same. But whether it is religion, politics or whatever, it still comes back to Sheila’s point of allowing ourselves to be divided into “us” and “them” categories.

  8. An inspiring reminder of cour common humanity and renewed hope that our future is in good hands with young people like this. On a related note, please read National Geographic’s Dec. issue featuring “Mary, The most Powerful Woman In The World.” THERE ARE MORE REFERENCES TO MARY IN THE KORAN THAN IN THE BIBLE. MUSLIMS OF ALL SECTS REVERE MARY AND THE BIRTH OF JESUS IS DESCRIBED IN BEAUTIFUL DETAIL. This carefully researched article is so eye opening and filled with much new information for most as we seek to focus on our similarities rather than our differences

  9. Thanks for the heads up JoAnn since I very likely know some of the folks involved in that transplant surgery. That child is in the best hands he or she could be in. Riley Hospital has been my home away from home for nearly 16 years both as an employee and now as a consultant working with many others to preserve its storied history.

    Many thanks to David Honig on his post as well. One very small correction though. The “Riley Children’s Foundation” is the correct name of the great organization that not only supports the hospital but in its previous capacity as the “James Whitcomb Riley Memorial Association” built it, now over 91 years ago. It was also responsible, along with the I.U. Board of Trustees, for the early development of the University’s Indianapolis campus that we know as I.U.P.U.I. today.

    Very sorry about the additional hijacking.

    I definitely agree that these girls at Vernon High School should be commended and supported for what they are doing. They are reminding their peers and their neighbors what this country is all about. I hope and pray that they will be safe in doing so and applaud them for their courage and for their commitment to standing up against that “us” versus “them” mindset that has once again raised its ugly head with a lot of unwanted help.

    Merry Christmas!!!!

  10. Reflecting on religion in this season, I am very glad I had the foresight to not raise my children in a religious tradition. It is a shame that we identify human beings as “Islamic,” as if they are defined by the mythology they believe (or pretend to believe). It’s really just primitive tribalism, isn’t it? That being said these girls are showing love and empathy and that is wonderful.

  11. First, though I know all faiths are represented here, Merry Christmas!

    Anybody feel offended? Good! I suspected nobody would.

    Next a Christmas present. A hilarious comedian not like us on why racism is way better than astrology, a topic that I know is receiving a lot of attention lately.


    Third, congratulations girls, culture should make us very curious and eager to experience. We have ours, they have theirs yet basically we’re the same.

    This year’s been a hoot here. I feel like I know you all though I’ve never met any of you. How great is that!

  12. Merry Christmas to any and all, or Happy Holidays to any and all and any other positive greetings there might be. Irvin a born again atheist 🙂

  13. Lately I have been thinking a lot about the American Muslim community. I think back to stories my mother and aunt told me of my grandparents who came to America at the turn of the last century from Germany. They told of the dark days of WWI when they stopped speaking their native language, tried desperately to fit into American culture all the while fearful of what their neighbors thought of them and worried about all of the relatives and friends they left behind in Germany. And religion was not a part of this picture. Think of all of the American muslims who are conflicted about who and what they are during this terrible time in our history. My heart goes out to all of the refugees in the world, each trying to find a way to a home where they are safe, welcomed, and secure in the knowledge that their beliefs are respected.
    To all of my blogger friends, Peace, Love and Joy!

  14. For an interesting opposing viewpoint on these girls, check https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2015/12/21/as-muslim-women-we-actually-ask-you-not-to-wear-the-hijab-in-the-name-of-interfaith-solidarity/. Although I think these girls are trying to open their minds, they may be inadvertently passing off as legitimate the part of another religion that treats women as property. It might actually be another example of the us-versus-them mentality that is so harmful.

  15. Greg, interesting article.

    Remember when Catholic Nuns wore the same modest and hair covering outfits?

    I have been to Dubai and found that if women cover everything with expensive enough fashion except for the eyes, then the eyes say everything. I’ve also been to beaches where everything says everything.

    The only thing that seems important to me is that the wearer chooses what’s worn. To me that even applies to kids who say and wear the darnedest things.

    If a bunch of high school girls want to experiment with fashion and see what their Muslim sisters might feel like standing out from the crowd in such a way, great, some learning could take place.

    We should accept, but not worship, culture. It’s mostly collective habit. It’s interesting but not profound though there are many in the business of profoundity for profit that claim otherwise.

    Let’s worry about mankind’s important shortcomings and accept culture as merely their fashion.

  16. In all good faith, I am unable to applaud young non-Muslim girls or older non-Muslim females for joining a well-intentioned effort to “Walk a Mile in My Hijab”. At base, it’s an empty gesture whereby the non-Muslim females are only pretending to be Muslim females by wearing a hijab out of context from all the other religious baggage that accompanies the hijab.

    Perhaps this gesture makes the non-Muslim females feel good; however, it does nothing to assist the modern Muslim women who have no choice in whether they wear a hijab, no choice in whether they live under the thumbs of men, no choice in how they dress in public, etc. In fact, “Walk a Mile in My Hijab” simply reinforces the idea that Muslim women have no choices in their public attire, and not only reinforces this no choice idea but also gives it the blessing of the liberal progressives in the US as they emulate conservative Muslim women by wearing a hijab.

    In November 2015, one of the co-authors of the Washington Post article referenced above, Asra Nomani, was interviewed by Bill Maher. It’s worth your time to view the video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yWNv97yq4Fc

  17. BSH, I’m not sure that you or I need to pick between Ms Nomani and the high school girls. They are on different pages of the same book. To me, both are right.

    The girls are taking on a high school girl sized issue. What’s it like to be differnet in dress? Not a world defining issue but something that it’s good for teenage girls to wonder about. In the end what changes as a result is not the world, true, but the girls might. They might say it’s not as traumatic as we thought, or gee, getting looked at like a leper is like being a leper. Learning is a journey not a place. Who knows where it might lead to?

    On the other hand Ms Nomani, as a journalist with unique life experiences, is a central player in a world wide issue. Of course we should be on her side. Of course we wish her success on her mission.

    Not every issue requires us to take a side. The world is a complicated place and progress is a collaborative process. We each can and have a responsibility to contribute as we can. Sometimes our initial contribution is merely learning.

  18. Pete, I see no glimmer of hope in non-Muslim females donning a hijab in solidarity with Muslim women who have no choice in wearing a head covering.

    After 10 years in an Indianapolis Public high school and working directly with one particular Muslim family, I’ve witnessed too much female repression. Case in point, two students, a male and a female student, from the same Muslim family. The girl student had a 4.0 GPA as did the male student. Both were imminently qualified for scholarships; however, the male was encouraged to accept his 4-year academic scholarship to Indiana University in Bloomington, and the female was sent to Chicago in her hijab to be married to a man she’d never met.

  19. My point was different than yours. BTW I agree with your point about the need for much change in many cultures including ours. The Muslim culture is extreme though in sexism. Needs to change and it will. IMO it will when their dirt is no longer gold and they have to figure out how to do business in the real world.

    My point was to give a group of high school girls some credit for proactively trying to learn about the world. A small step not even addressing Muslim sexism but rather the importance of being true to oneself.

  20. Pete, I understand about young girls learning about the world; however, emulating repressed female Muslims who have no choice in wearing a hijab is not exactly a progressive method.

  21. To avoid the problems of supporting the suppression of women that the these girls have run into by proposing the wearing of the hijab, I present this wonderful couple in Cambridge who set up a booth with an “Ask a Muslim” booth with coffee and donuts https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2015/12/21/couple-sets-ask-muslim-booth-cambridge/aOiTfhSp8wtM5zYhqaWdnO/story.html.

    I agree with daleb; I am not a fan of religion. Even though many of our social welfare movements are based in religious movements and many who profess to be religious are lovely people, “Religion” also includes the Evangelicals, our home grown terrorists; the Right wing Jews that are causing so much trouble in Israel; and of course, Daesh. The sooner we, as a species, evolve away from the necessity for religion, the better. In the meantime however understanding that we are all human beings is a good idea.

  22. Would this be in question if Muslims wore a cross or Star of David on a chain to support Christians? I have seen articles on Facebook where Muslims in other countries have protected Christians from violence and Muslims in this country helping Christians who are in need, Christians taking up collections to help repair mosques that have been damaged by arson.

    In the mid-1950’s I was the recipient of verbal bullying because of my friendship with “coloreds”; even questioned by one teacher if I was dating the “colored” boy I walked into class with every day – we happened to run into each other in the hall on our way to class. He is now a big name in the jazz music world in San Francisco and we are still in contact on line. I’m sure he caught flack from some “coloreds” for being friends with “whitey” at the time. If we don’t speak out or show outward support for minorities how can anything change?

    Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Namaste, Happy Winter Solstice, Joyous Kwanza…and Happy Holidays to all others.

  23. When I look at the history of Islam I understand the polititical and historical aspects of its religion and try to provide real answers to those who are totally confused about this religion Islam. I also see both sides of the issue for as I grew up I helped a local farmer plow the snow from a drive of a mosque nearby 40 years ago. Today from that same mosque I hear inflammatory language and hatred on national TV and am shocked about their leaders when they use the appearances on national TV to support the Muslim Brothrhood front groups in America.
    Politics is everything unfortunately and when some call for a pause for immigration democrats and republicans this becomes a political issue only for one side. We should applaud all peoples for showing the good side of their culture, but reforms are necessary for peace and these girls have a challenge. Parts of those in their culture are unlike any other group calling for change. They are calling for the destruction of western society as we know it. We should be supportive of the girls in their culture but we also have to give an answer to the families in San Bernadino and Paris. Occupy Democrats or any other political affiliate doesn’t take on the national debt that is going to change the future of all of our children no matter what clothes they wear. It’s about control and hoping you won’t vote for the other party. That’s the crying shame, using these girls for a political advantage.
    Everyday I have the opportunity to represent America with a smile and a handshake and I reach out to people and when they see me reach out to shake their hand in brotherly love I see in their eyes a thank you. Please do the same in love!

  24. BSH I think you fail to grasp that if everyone had worn a yellow star 80 years ago the world would be a different place.

  25. While I’ve read some of Sheila Kennedy’s articles in the newspaper, I was not familiar with this website until a friend forwarded this article to me. After reading any potentially controversial article that allows the public to post comments, I usually read a few of the comments until they resort to name-calling, profanity and emotional nonsense. After reading this article, I started reading the comments….and continued…..and continued….all the way to the end. What a refreshing change!!! Regardless of the position of the person posting, all of the comments were well-reasoned, thought-provoking, and above all, respectfully stated. I learned as much from the comments as I did the article, and thoroughly enjoyed reading both.

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