Last night during the State of the Union, President Obama really hit it home regarding the Anti-Muslim rhetoric in this country. It cannot continue. We are better than that. When terrorists claim that their violent acts are committed in the name of Islam, people conclude that the problem is with Islam itself. This logic is both inaccurate and dangerous. Why is it inaccurate? It is inaccurate because at many points throughout history, Islam has played a liberalizing role in society, and today, the United States is home to a flourishing moderate Muslim community. Why is it dangerous? It is dangerous because it condemns an entire religion and makes no distinction between our Muslim allies and the extremists who plot to carry out nefarious acts against us.What can we do as Jews to squash this inaccurate and dangerous dialogue?Well, as Jews we are probably familiar with some of the negative, inaccurate things that are thrown at us. "Jews control Hollywood" and "Jews are the cause of all the wars in the world" are a couple examples of those inaccuracies. The latter is straight from Mel Gibson, to be specific. So when someone says "Muslims all think/feel/are [insert negative, innacurate thing]" we need to call that person saying it out... Muslims are not a monolith, and the claim that Muslims, as a whole, think/feel/believe any one thing is as absurd as the claim of uniformity in the Jewish or Christian communities.When I say that we need to call out the inaccuracies in such negative statements, I mean to do so in a calm, engaged way. Don't name call the person saying it. Ask questions. Take their concerns seriously. You probably are not going to change the mind of someone with deeply held beliefs, no matter how wrong they are. But for those who make problematic remarks due to a lack of knowledge, you will have done a mitzvah by broadening their horizons.
It is always better to speak up and not remain silent.