Frank, I have a close friend who is Ismael Muslim (follower of the Aga Khan. He has experienced discrimination. We met yesterday to discuss business but he was saying even his Professor (he is doing a doctorate) he feels is discriminating against him. He always talks of the Koran as being a book of Peace.
When I repeat that last statement I get derided for saying that.
I did hear on radio while driving this week a commentator who said he had taken a course on racism. He thought he was completely free of racism when he started the course but he said he learned quickly from the exercises that we ALL profile – whether by race, dress, or other differences (fem guys). We unconsciously do that.
One of my best friends for years was black, raised in Louisiana who came to Toronto in 1964 but still had a bit of southern drawl. He and I often discussed this topic focused on blacks and/or gays. He was always observing subtle times when people profiled him. One day Arnold and I were walking on Yonge Street and I thought I really felt comfortable with all blacks but we came across half a dozen blacks hogging the corner where we had to go to cross the street. I shared with my friend that I tensed up as I sensed by accent and some words they might be gang members. He said he would do the same in similar circumstances and that that did not make me racist.
Today, again on the car radio I heard the former Chief of Police for Detroit talk about the training he made his force go through and despite the large poor black population and the number of shootings in Detroit hte police force there had never had a shooting by a policeman. He said twice a year his force rotated through training sessions which included role playing de-esculation of confrontational situations and role playing different ethnic and race confrontations. He said it was amazing how you could reduce fear and profiling if you had practiced it enough.
I have focused on race rather than religion but I think the situation is the same. I have found the more someone knows a gay person and knows them rather well, the less homophobic they are. I grew up where the slaves entered Canada on the underground railroad – there was still a building when we moved there (just a few doors from our house) where they had shelter after crossing the river into Canada. There was a prominent black family there whose surname was so similar often people thought my name was McCurdy. I think being exposed like that was why one of my best friends was black, my partner is Filipino, and another two of my best friends are Muslim.
I think the unholy anti-Christian Trump has let loose much underlying anti-Muslim fear by talking of terrorists as he talks of rapists and drug dealers.