Notes From Babel

Multiculturalism and the moral order

with 4 comments

This story reminds that there is a great potential friendship between conservatives and Muslims when it comes to instilling positive values in our children, and resisting the trend to secularism.  Here’s an excerpt, though I recommend reading the whole piece:

Then I looked across the school playground and saw a Muslim mother, the mother of my daughter’s best friend, holding her headscarf in place with her hands as the wind blew about restlessly. I caught her eye for a moment and we smiled at each other. Before this moment, I had never thought that my situation in any shape or form was similar to that of a Muslim mother. And I had never thought seriously about talking to a Muslim mother about issues of faith or raising children in our community. But now I was beginning to reconsider. Perhaps our Muslim fellow citizens, especially those who are spiritually and intellectually confident in their ways of life, can challenge and inspire us to reflect more deeply on our own faith and morality, and perhaps in the process we might discover that we share some of the same moral principles and hopes and dreams for our children.

We always hear so much about the things that separate Muslims from Christians (and no doubt there are things that do separate us), and often these differences are expressed in negative and prejudiced ways. I wonder if our misunderstandings and misconceptions prevent some of us from trusting and forming spiritual bonds and friendships with those who are confronting some of the very same challenges that we confront. I live in a community where many of my moral views about sexuality, marriage, and the family are in the minority. Sometimes they are challenged (respectfully and disrespectfully), and every now and again someone agrees with them, but often they are simply dismissed. Like my daughter, I’m comforted to know that there is someone else with whom I share similar experiences (and perhaps a moral view or two).

There is, perhaps, a different brand of multiculturalism that underscores rather than undermines the moral order.  It’s a shame that many conservatives have written off American Muslims because of disagreements on certain narrow political or foreign policy views, when we really have so much to agree on.


Written by Tim Kowal

March 18, 2011 at 12:58 am

4 Responses

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  1. As long as any rapprochement does not include attempts to impose either group’s moral code on non-believers, agnostics, and the less devout by force of law, I agree wholeheartedly with this post. Divisions based on differing beliefs about how this all came to pass and what it all means serve no purpose.

    I am curious though, do you place all of the blame for any mistrust between conservatives and the American Muslims on conservatives? Or do you believe that American Muslims have, to some extent, written off many of the same conservatives based upon the same “disagreements on certain narrow political or foreign policy views” (i.e., Israel)?


    March 18, 2011 at 8:30 am

    • Certainly the latter, in addition to other groups and institutional forces (e.g., the media). I’ve written here before about how I think American Muslims are really dropping the ball when it comes to drawing distinctions between themselves and the “Islamists,” etc. But pop conservatism plays a big role, too, including a feverish support for Israel. I’m not quite as skeptical about Israel as perhaps I once was, but we do grossly oversimplify the justification for our continued. support.

      Tim Kowal

      March 18, 2011 at 8:36 am

  2. Thanks for the post, Tim. It was very inspiring against an increasingly depressing reality. I recommend this article which really touches on the Muslims Republican experience:

    “Muslim Americans helped elect George W. Bush, but now they’re leaving the Republican Party in droves. It didn’t have to be this way…It wasn’t always this way. Muslim Americans are, by and large, both socially and economically conservative. Sixty-one percent of them would ban abortion except to save the life of the mother; 84 percent support school choice. Muslims overwhelmingly support traditional marriage. More than a quarter — over twice the national average — are self-employed small-business owners, and most support reducing taxes and the abolition of the estate tax. By all rights they should be Republicans — and not long ago they were.”

    Read the whole article here:


    March 19, 2011 at 12:12 am

  3. […] regard it as deserving special rebuke from other religions with which I also disagree.  In fact, I believe most Muslims are a wonderful component of our American culture.  Many people do not agree.  But among those, some could be convinced by some corrections to the […]

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