Muslims Crack Me Up

5 12 2016
from historiccity.com

from historiccity.com

Recently I wrote about how Muslim Americans may be more afraid of you than you are of them! (See my post 1001 More Ways to Die in America.) With all the prejudice Muslims face, sometimes even the threat of personal violence, how can they best respond?

If American Muslims chose to hide, or to be offended and angry, I think it would be totally understandable. But even though the stereotype of Muslims is that they’re overly serious, many of them choose to face difficulty with a wonderful sense of humor. In fact, there are some terrific Muslim-American comedians I’d like to introduce you to.

On December 1st Arab-American comedian Mo Amer was seated on a plane to Scotland next to none other than Eric Trump. He was thrilled. “Sometimes God just sends you the material,” he tweeted.

Being a Muslim-American is tough these days, whether you’re trying to get through TSA at the airport or just trying to fit in at your job or in your neighborhood. For Mo Amer, it’s learning how to get along with the gun-carrying cowboys of Texas.

He tells about growing up in Houston and being put in ESL class where he learned Spanish—which came in handy. When kids picked on him for being a Muslim or an Arab, he pretended he was a Mexican instead. But it hasn’t helped his 20-year quest to receive his citizenship. He’s pretty sure his first name being “Mohammed” has something to do with the delays. But what can he do except laugh? Catch his comedy here.

American comedian Ahmed Ahmed feels like racism and religious conflicts “are not going away,” but that laughter is one common meeting point for us all. Once Ahmed took 10 American comedians on a comedy tour of the Middle East called “Just Like Us.” The resulting documentary earned him an invitation to the White House. Explore his comedy here.

Maysoon Zayid, perhaps the first Muslim woman standup comedian in America, co-founded the New York Arab-American Comedy Festival in 2003, with the goal of changing the negative image of Arab-Americans in media. She also speaks out for the handicapped. Maysoon has cerebral palsy. But she says that’s only one of her many problems: “I’m Palestinian, Muslim, female, disabled…and I live in New Jersey.” “The world is broken,” Maysoon admits, “but I believe we can fix it.” Check out her comedy here.

“People say stupid things to me all the time,” says American comedian Azhar Usman, a large Arab-looking man with a full beard. He tells about waiting at a stop light when a car full of young white men pulls up and they start taunting him. “What’s up, Osama!” the driver yells. Before he can respond, another guy calls out, “Yeah, what’s going on, Gandhi!”

Azhar was confused—how could he be Osama and Gandhi at the same time? “What is this—terror through non-violence? I will kill you—by not eating?”

But in spite of the racism and xenophobia Azhar experiences, he chooses to see hope. “We are actually witnessing this country undergo a transformation in front of our eyes, it’s amazing,” he claims. If you want to know why, try his comedy here.

When these comedians share their true horror stories but choose to laugh, the audience is drawn into a new empathy for what Muslim-Americans have to go through. Their human qualities shine through, and the audience realizes that though we face different types of difficulties in life than Muslim-Americans do, as Ahmed Ahmed says, they’re “just like us.”

DISCLAIMER: This is not an endorsement of any comedian’s opinions or their use of coarse language. This is simply a recognition of their efforts to build bridges through laughter.





1001 MORE Ways to Die in America (part 2)

10 11 2016
huffingtonpost.com

photo from huffingtonpost.com

Recently I addressed the fear that many Americans face that Muslim jihadists may infiltrate our nation posing as refugees and conduct terrorist attacks against us. I argued that although this is possible, living in fear of such an event makes no more sense than living in fear of lightning strikes or of dying from falling out of bed—both of which caused more deaths in America last year than Muslim terrorists did.

But have you ever paused to wonder how your fellow American citizens feel, who happen to be Muslims? Do you think they might also struggle with fear that anti-Muslim vigilantes in America might attack them?

The Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism reported an estimated 260 violent attacks against Muslims in America during 2015, the highest total since the months immediately following 9/11. They hypothesized that anti-Muslim political rhetoric was the primary cause in the increase.

CNN writer Daniel Burke summarizes the vicious variety in these attacks in his article, ”The Secret Costs of Islamophobia.” (http://edition.cnn.com/2016/09/23/us/islamerica-secret-costs-islamophobia/index.html)

   Muslims have been shot and killed, execution-style, in their living rooms and outside of their mosques. They have been fatally stabbed on their way home. They have been beaten in their stores, in their schools and on the streets. They have been kicked off airplanesegged outside Walmartscorched with hot coffee in a park, shot in cabs and punched while pushing their children in strollers. Their clothes have been set on fire and their children have been bullied. Men have come to their door and told them that they would burn down their house if they did not move away. They have been fired for wearing hijabs and for praying. They have seen their cemeteries vandalized and their Quran desecrated. A Muslim congressman has received death threats, and business owners have posted signs advertising “Muslim-free zones.

   Heavily armed men have protested outside mosques in Texas and Arizona, arguing that it’s their patriotic duty to protect the country from Islam.

   People have covered the doors of a mosque with feces and torn pages of the Quran, left a severed pig’s head outside a mosque, firebombed mosques, urinated on mosques, spray-painted the Star of David and satanic symbols on mosques, carved swastikas and crude drawings of penises into signs at mosques, set fire to mosques, threatened to blow up mosques and kill “you Muslim f****,” fired rounds from high-powered rifles into mosques, wrapped bacon around the door handles of mosques, left hoax bombs and fake grenades at mosques, threatened to decapitate congregants at mosques, sent suspicious substances to mosques, written notes saying, “We hate you,” “We will burn all of you” and “Leave our country” to mosques, rammed a tractor-trailer into a mosque, thrown bricks and stones through the windows of mosques, pelted Muslims with rocks as they left mosques and stood outside mosques shouting, “How many of you Muslims are terrorists?”

This type of behavior breaks my heart! Does it break yours? Every one of those events happened to real people—nurturing fathers, gentle mothers, children wide-eyed with innocence—people just like you and me.

If you think you have something to be afraid of because one Muslim family moved into your neighborhood, how do you think they feel, surrounded by non-Muslims, with no idea who might be a violent, gun-carrying Muslim-hater that might attack them while they’re pushing their baby in a stroller down the sidewalk?

Fear goes both ways. And in 99.999% of the cases, that fear of the unknown can be shattered by walking up and introducing yourself, getting to know your neighbor, and starting a friendship. Every Muslim American needs non-Muslim friends to feel safe. And every Muslim you reach out to in love means one less fear you’ll have to worry about on your checklist.

I challenge you—the next Muslim you see, determine in your heart to approach him or her with a smile and introduce yourself. Ask about their family, work and dreams. Then write me and tell me what happened.

And try to do this before Christmas comes and finds you singing, “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me…”





Win a Free Copy of A VIOLENT LIGHT

29 10 2016

WIN A FREE COPY OF JIM’S NEW THRILLER!

image-2

 

To be eligible to win one of 3 giveaway copies of A VIOLENT LIGHT, here’s all you have to do:

 

  • Post a review of at least 2 sentences of SOMEONE HAS TO DIE or A WAY OUT OF HELL to one of the sites listed below*, or on your Facebook page or blog
  • The more sites you post on, the more chances you have to win
  • Email me at jimbaton@gmail.com telling me where you posted
  • Your name will be entered as many times as you post for a random drawing on Christmas Eve 2016

Winners will be emailed and posted on my website by Christmas Day, books shipped by New Year’s Day.

 

*Suggested sites:

If you haven’t read one of these books yet, pick up the ebook now or mark your calendar for Black FridayCyber Monday when the paperbacks will be on sale for only $8.99.

Spread the message of PEACE for the holidays!





1001 Ways to Die in America

19 10 2016

cemetary   I’ve been criticized for not treating the threat of a Muslim terrorist sneaking into the US posing as a refugee as real. Let me be clear—that is a real threat. The events in Chattanooga and San Bernadino last year (19 killed) and Orlando this year (49 killed) remind us that there are Muslims motivated by hate who are willing to kill Americans.

At the same time, I’d like to bring some perspective to the actual danger this poses to you, because the fear of Muslim refugees that is saturating our media has been blown all out of proportion. Yes, there is a danger you may be killed by a Muslim refugee this year. There is also a danger you might have a tree fall on your head. And guess which one is more likely? The falling tree by a long shot.

Let’s take a look at some actual statistics to determine how likely a Muslim refugee terrorist might be to cause your death. Is it really worth your anxiety, or would your worries be better invested somewhere else?

Here’s what I discovered. Statistically speaking, you’re more likely to be struck by lightning or die from a peanut allergy than to die in a Muslim terrorist attack. In fact, you’re 10 times more likely to die by falling out of your own bed. You’re about 80 times more likely to die by walking across the street. You’re nearly 100 times more likely to die by texting while driving. And you’re 700 times more likely to die by choosing to kill yourself.

That doesn’t even account for the truly great killers among us, such as poor eating habits, the consumption of tobacco, alcohol or drugs, or being the victim of a medical error (your doctor or nurse is 4000 times more likely to kill you!).

There are so many ways to die in America it’s crazy. But dying at the hand of a Muslim terrorist is about as likely as discovering you had a long-lost identical twin. Last year’s statistics show that more Americans were shot and killed by toddlers with guns than by Islamic terrorists!

And check this out—in all of 2015, do you know how many deaths in America were caused by Muslim refugees or illegal aliens? Zero. As in none. It never happened. (American citizens and permanent residents were responsible for Chattanooga, San Bernadino and Orlando.)

So if America needs to close our borders or banish somebody or something, how about we start with tobacco, alcohol, fast food and incompetent medical professionals? Then we can move on to cell phones, peanuts, beds, trees and lightning. Next we’ll get rid of toddlers. Then we can deal with those nasty, dangerous Muslim refugees.

For more insight on your deadliest enemies, check out 2016’s latest statistics at: http://www.romans322.com/daily-death-rate-statistics.php

Some of you may think I’m wrong. You’re welcome to argue your point! Go ahead and comment below.

My hope is that you live a long and fear-free life. The world needs your love.





My Voice, Your Voice, His Voice

3 10 2016

It’s always a good feeling to be interviewed—whether on television or by a child doing homework for AWANA—it’s affirming to know that someone wants to hear what I have to say, that my voice is being heard.

Honestly, I don’t have much to say about 99% of the issues in our world. I love to listen to what others are saying, and do my best to hear God’s voice amidst the chatter. But there are a few issues that I care deeply about, to which I’ve given my life.

So if you’d like to hear my thoughts about any of the following topics (and much more!), in a moment I’ll direct you to three new places to connect with me!

  • What inspired you to write about ISIS?
  • Is ISIS coming to America?
  • Are jihad attacks more likely to come from refugees, illegal immigrants, or US citizens?
  • Is Islam a peaceful religion, or are its true followers those who promote violence?
  • What could healing Abraham’s broken family look like today?
  • What authors or books have influenced you?
  • What’s your favorite book of all time?
  • What’s your response to this current presidential election?

You can find recent interviews I’ve done at the following websites:

http://mybookplace.net/jim-baton/

https://anita-thoughtsonchristianity.blogspot.co.id/

Also, if you drop by your local Christian bookstore and pick up the November issue (already on shelves today) of Today’s Christian Living magazine, you’ll find my award-winning article, “Christmas with a Killer.”

I take the responsibility of my platform to speak very seriously. If you have a blog, Facebook page, magazine, newsletter, church or small group, and you’d like me to write something for you on the topics of Islam, peacemaking, writing, or prayer, please contact me!

And whatever platform God has given you, I hope you are developing the message He wants you to speak into your sphere of influence. Your voice needs to be heard! It’s time for us to believe that His voice can speak through your voice and my voice.





Donald Trump Jr, Skittles & Syrian Refugees

28 09 2016

skittlescandypictureLast week Donald Trump Jr. tweeted a picture of a bowl of Skittles with this message:

“If I had a bowl of skittles and I told you just three would kill you. Would you take a handful? That’s our Syrian refugee problem.”

Like many others who protested, I am grieved by the casualness by which someone from a nation at peace can dismiss the horrible sufferings of those fleeing their own nation as victims of terrorism.

The New York Times shares some of the criticism Trump Jr. received after his tweet, including this classic from Binyamin Appelbaum: “Pause to reflect on the fact that this was sent from an iPhone, which was created by [Steve Jobs] the son of a Syrian immigrant.”

Check out the article here: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/21/us/politics/donald-trump-jr-faces-backlash-after-comparing-syrian-refugees-to-skittles-that-can-kill.html

Not only is it cavalier to compare candy to victims of unspeakable atrocities, the “bowl of Skittles” image makes us feel like there’s a high percent chance that someone in the room eating Skittles will die. But both the vetting process and statistics argue otherwise.

John Oliver explains the incredibly difficult 18-24 month process it usually takes for a Syrian refugee to enter America. Step 1 is applying to the UNHCR which generally rejects 99% of applicants. For the lucky 1%, it’s on to Step 2, applying to the US State Department. This includes security screenings by the National Counterterrorism Center, the FBI, Homeland Security, and then extra screenings specifically for Syrians. There is an interview, fingerprinting and a health screening, and the Director of the FBI has to sign off on every single Syrian refugee! Step 3 is cultural orientation, while continued research goes on in the background to make sure no new information would disqualify the refugee. This is the most thorough vetting of anyone in the world trying to gain refugee status in America.

The statistics also refute the Skittles analogy. If there are 3 poison Skittles in a bowl of 300, that’s 1 in 100. But both the New York Times article and John Oliver point to statistics that say 1 in tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands, or even more would be more accurate.

Check out John Oliver’s video clip here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7U-t3GetV_Q

If we deny all Syrian refugees out of fear that one will be a terrorist, what kind of uncompassionate, short-sighted protectionism is this? We could be missing out on a Jerry Seinfeld, Paula Abdul, Johnny Manziel, and as previously mentioned, Steve Jobs.

I’d like to offer a better parallel than Skittles—Italian immigrants to America. The power of the mafia peaked in Italy in the early to mid-1900s. They expanded their operations to other countries including the US, bringing crime and death in their wake. What if we had discovered 60-100 years ago that 1 in 250,000 Italian Americans had connections to the mafia? Should we have closed our doors to Italian immigrants as well? Think of all the trouble it would have saved us!

But we didn’t, and I’m so glad we didn’t! Would American history have been the same without Frank Sinatra, Lee Iacocca, Jack Nicholson, Yogi Berra, Madonna, Jay Leno, Quentin Tarantino, Vince Lombardi, Jon Bon Jovi, Robert DeNiro, Mario Cuomo, Dan Marino, Lady Gaga, Mario Puzo, Rachel Ray, Ray Romano, Selena Gomez, Tommy Lasorda, Rudy Giuliani, Hulk Hogan, Henry Mancini, Sylvester Stallone, Harry Caray, Bradley Cooper, Joe Montana, Bruce Springsteen, Wolfgang Puck, Vin Diesel, Ariana Grande, Nancy Pelosi, Kate Hudson, Mario Andretti, Alicia Keys, John Travolta, Jennifer Aniston, Phil Mickelson, Steve Carell, Leonardo DiCaprio, Demi Lovato, the Jacuzzi family, the Jonas brothers, Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Samuel Alito, several Nobel Prize winners, plus several thousand more Americans with Italian heritage who are household names? Remove all of them from our history—unimaginable! America wouldn’t be America without them.

Syrians are not Skittles. They are hurting people, victims of the same terrorism we hate. They are also intelligent, skilled, creative human beings who might invent whatever will come after the iPhone. Let’s welcome them with open arms and see how they make our nation of immigrants a richer place.





For Aspiring Writers

22 09 2016

write-593333_1920   Everywhere I travel and speak, I meet people who are writing or wanting to write. I want to encourage you to go for it! There have never been as many tools and services available for writers as we have now. Professional editors, cover artists, formatters, and marketers are available to make sure the self-published author produces a quality book. And if you want to learn how to do everything yourself, there are tutorials everywhere.

I’ve also met so many helpful people along my writing journey who have taken time to answer my questions, inspire me, or point me in the right direction. If any of you have questions about writing, I’d be happy to do my best to answer them too.

An easy way to ask me what’s on your mind is by adding to the questions I’m already answering at:

https://www.goodreads.com/author/5813900.Jim_Baton/questions

Take a look there at what I’ve already said and add your own writing process queries.

[Please ask questions related to Christian-Muslim relations on my blog Q&A page.]

And if you’ve already written a book but can’t seem to get people to buy it, let me encourage you to not only keep learning about marketing, but to get to work on that second book! I recently read that Ted Dekker (one of my favorite authors) wrote 4 books that were never published before someone liked his 5th book and his career was launched.

I recognize that in the process of writing my first few books, I’m still learning the craft. Hopefully each book gets significantly better.

That’s one reason I’m so excited about my next book hopefully coming out before Christmas—A VIOLENT LIGHT—I think it’s the best written of my books yet. It will keep you on the edge of your seat, puzzling with the main character to figure out what is fear and what is real, with a nail-biting climax that could keep you up all night.

But more about my new book later. Today’s post is to motivate you to a) ask questions, and b) keep writing!