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Auchter's Art: Strange customs and rituals

Jun 8, 2018

It happens more or less on a regular basis. Somebody with too much time on their hands will point to the large Middle Eastern and Muslim communities in Southeast Michigan and declare their suspicions of nefarious activity. 

They typically have no real understanding of the nuances — some are Muslim and some are not, some are Arab and some are not, some have been citizens for generations and some have not. But the numbers get lumped together to make the fear more plausible.

It's bad enough when it's a low-level political operative or a barfly at your local watering hole, but in this case it was Fred Fleitz, the recently appointed chief of staff and executive secretary for the National Security Council, and also deputy assistant to President Donald Trump. The Detroit Free Press reported this week that Fleitz had given an interview last year to Breitbart News in which he shared this little chestnut of wisdom:

"...there are some communities in the United States that have not assimilated. I’m not concerned about Amish or Jewish communities, but I will tell you that there are enclaves of Muslim communities in Michigan and Minnesota that concern me. The problem with these Muslim communities is that it is making them susceptible to this radical worldview that wants to destroy modern society, create a global caliphate, and impose Sharia law on everyone on Earth."

Look, I do understand the possibility of danger — every group of people has potentially bad elements. (As a middle-aged white guy from Michigan, I bear the burden of never knowing what stupid thing Ted Nugent is going to do next.) But I also understand the greater harm of disparaging an entire community. Or more to the point, the overwhelming benefits the people of these communities provide Michigan.

John Auchter is a freelance editorial cartoonist. His views are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of Michigan Radio, its management, or its license holder, the University of Michigan.