It seems as though hate crimes are occurring everywhere since the election, and now even libraries are being targeted. Libraries across the country have been finding anti-Muslim vandalism in books about Islam.
The Guardian reports that a growing number of vandalism incidents has the American Library Association (ALA) concerned. Americans have been taking their bigotry to their local library bookshelves and defacing books that educate about Islam.
Evanston Public Library in Illinois was hit with a number of Islamophobic messages on Qurans and Islam-themed books. Vandals wrote on one Quran, "Bull sh** hatred cover to cover," with a drawing of a swastika. At Reed University in Oregon, someone went so far as to write hateful messages and swastikas on the library walls, saying "The white man is back in power," and quoting President-elect Donald Trump's campaign slogan, "Make America Great Again."
The president of the ALA, Julie Todaro, told The Guardian, "While libraries have always reported on a wide variety of crimes, and we have always had serious incidents of defacing library materials and graffiti, we are just now beginning to hear of many more specific instances of incidents of bigotry and harassment within libraries."
These incidents not only reflect the serious consequences of hateful rhetoric from Trump and others, but also point to a national attack on freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and — most worrying of all — education.
An entire school district was shut down when students were asked to copy calligraphy from the Quran in class, and a Tennessee mother launched an angry campaign when her daughter was educated about Islam in school.
If education fosters mutual understanding and respect, then the Islamophobes who are defacing library books are actively burning those bridges and trying to destroy anything that could possibly challenge their worldview. This kind of discriminatory zealotry is particularly worrisome as prominent political figures suggest Muslim bans and internment and try to quash freedom of religion in America.
This combination of mindless hatred and an unwillingness to learn — or even allow others to learn — about another religion is a threat to our constitutional rights to freely worship and only serves to feed the ignorance that spawns all these hate crimes in the first place. In the age of "alt-right" Nazis and proposed infringements on our rights, education and mutual understanding are the only ways to make America great again.
Banner Image Credit: REUTERS/Mike Segar