You know how I’ve mentioned I have a tendency to find an idea and obsess endlessly about it, and then find another idea and move on to obsess about that?  Well, right now I have a new obsession that just hit me like a flash.  I’m practically hyperventilating with excitement and just had to vent it somewhere – thus, this blog post.

It began with this passage from the novel “The Dante Club:”

Talbot had argued vigorously three chief points in these discourses:
1.  that the superstitious rituals and lavish cathedrals of the Catholic faith constituted blasphemous idolatry;
2.  that the tendency of the Irish to cluster in neighborhoods around their cathedrals and convents would give rise to secret plotting against America and signaled resistance to Americanization;
3.  that popery, the great foreign menace controlling all aspects of the Catholic operation, threatened the independence of all American religions with its proselytizing and its goal of overrunning the country.

Of course, non of the anti-Catholic Unitarian ministers condoned the acts of enraged Boston laborers who burned down a Catholic convent after witnesses said that Protestant girls had been kidnapped and kept in dungeons to be made into nuns.  The rioters chalked hell to the pope! on the rubble.

Of course, anyone who has even a passing familiarity with current events and the american muslim will get an eerie sense that this is all very familiar.

So as I was sitting in front of yet another rerun of Criminal Minds and talking to AbuS about this quote and how similar it is to right wing islamophobic hate rhetoric, I was struck with what would morph into my new obsession – why not ask my Grandma and her friends about their experiences as first and second generation italian americans?  Heck, why not write out a survey for them to fill out?  Then follow up with taped interviews?  Hey, I bet the library has some information on this.  Ohhh, wait, this could be the start of a master’s thesis.  And then interview members of the muslim community, new immigrants, children of immigrants and older generations.  Compare and contrast their experiences.  Draw conclusions about what can be learned from the experiences of past immigrants, and how does this bode for the future of the american muslim community?

Consult sheikh google, and low and behold, there is a scholar of italian american immigration at the University of Minnesota!  Not only a potential source of information, but also possibly a future advisor?

So of course I called my grandma to talk, and wouldn’t you know, her sister, my great aunt Chubby is visiting.  I talked with them both about the possibility of a survey and got a general idea about their experiences growing up as the children of italian immigrants.  It includes being called wopps, seeing the KKK marching through their neighborhood, and being refused employment for being italian.

Thus begins perhaps the next venture in my life, a possible return to academia, all begun over a novel picked at random out of the clearance section of a used bookstore, and is now in it’s infancy scrawled on an empty page of a grocery shopping notebook:

Prejudice Never Dies – it only finds new target

Parallels in the Italian and Muslim American experiences

I haven’t been this excited in a long time.  Alhamdulilah Allah (swt) has shown me a way off the couch.  Please make abundant dua for me :)


4 thoughts on “obsessing

  1. Had to Google what is Criminal Minds. Wiki says it has been on since 2005. I am really in the dark…. and yeah, the TV is still unplugged fromRamadan so I guess this won’t change anytime soon.

    I love your great aunt’s name.

    • MashaAllah. I think I’ll just have to leave my tv behind when we move :) But then, there’s always hulu there taunting me. Argh!

      She has a great sense of humor. I wish she lived closer (she’s out in Portland).

  2. MashaAllah!
    Mmmm…. Criminal Minds… love it!

    Re “wopps” – that’s interesting because actually here in Australia the word “wog” was used (still is sometimes unfortunately) which refers to both Italians and Greeks (probably some other countries around the Mediterranean too). Actually an interesting movie related to that for my own country is The Wog Boy, a comedy from like… 2000 or something about a Greek and an Italian. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E2GYIcprD70 the trailer is a bit graphic in places though, just to warn you :)

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