Treat people as individuals, not as members of a group. That’s something we were taught in kindergarten. Obviously that doesn’t hold true in all circumstances, but it applies when dealing with race, religion, ethnicity, etc. A Twitter user who got into a cab in New York City on Friday night reminds everyone of how important it is to remember that simple lesson from our childhood.
After the attacks in Paris, New York City resident Alex Malloy hailed a cab. What happened when he got in the cab Malloy described as “the saddest moment I’ve experienced as apart [sic] of the human race.”
The 23-year-old Malloy says that the first words he heard upon getting into the cab were “thank you.” The cab driver was a Muslim. He told Malloy how, following the attacks in Paris, nobody wanted to ride in his cab. He said that Malloy was his first fare in over two hours.
In a moving post that he shared on both Twitter and Facebook, Malloy relates how the driver said to him,
Allah, my god, does not believe in this. People think I’m a part of this and I’m not.
Malloy says that both he and the man cried during the entire 25 minutes of the ride to Malloy’s apartment.
We all cried a little on Friday night, for various reasons. Some cried that a beautiful city like Paris was once again subject to something like this attack. Others cried over the typical, knee-jerk, tone-deaf response of many right-wing Americans, some of whom used it to attack all Muslims, others of whom chose to exploit the pain of Paris to promote their “more guns!” agenda here in the U.S.
But Alex Malloy brought home the fact that we should not be demonizing an entire religion, one that is practiced by over 1.5 billion people worldwide, because of the actions of a tiny minority of its followers. Nobody would dream of accusing all Christians of being supportive of an abortion clinic bomber. But that’s exactly what many — too many — Americans and other westerners do whenever an attack is carried out by an Islamic group.
Almost ten percent of the French population is Muslim, more than six million people. If you combine the people responsible for this attack with those who carried out the Charlie Hebdo attack in January, they account for somewhere around three millionths of one percent of French Muslims. Even if you take the total number of members of ISIS, al Qaeda, Boko Haram, and any other militant Islamic groups, and add to that number all of those groups’ sympathizers, you are still talking about a fraction of one percent of all Muslims on the planet. Because of that small group, many have chosen to demonize an entire religion. Alex Malloy’s story is a beacon of intelligence, empathy, and common sense.
Here is Alex Malloy’s moving commentary about his Friday night cab ride: