- People from every race, all over the world, convert into Judaism. They’re as Jewish as any other Jew, even though they obviously keep the race into which they were born. Beyond that, there are people born into Judaism from different races all over the world, such as Ethiopian Jews. Beyond that, whether to observe the religious dictates of Judaism is a choice which every person makes.
So it’s wildly simplistic, at best, to describe “Jewish” as a race which one cannot and does not choose.
- Although it’s not a perfect equivalency, the designation “Muslim” has very similar attributes to the ones you’re ascribing to “Jews.” Countless people all over the world self-identify as “Muslim” even though they have little to no adherence to the tenets of Islam. They mean it as a cultural signifier or representative of their heritage: the community and culture into which they were born, very similar to the way some non-religious people still identify as “Jewish”: as a cultural or ethnic signifier.
Just as German Jews could not have chosen to become non-Jewish in the eyes of many, so, too, are Muslims incapable of becoming non-Muslim in the eyes of many. No matter their belief system, they retain their names, their appearance, their heritage and other attributes which bigots associate with being Muslim — just as was true of Jews.
In sum, maligning “Muslims” is about more than maligning the doctrine of Islam, just as maligning “Jews” has always been about more than maligning the doctrine of Judaism.
- The argument you’re implicitly making — that it’s better to discriminate against people for choices they make than in-born attributes — is one very familiar to LGBT people, since that’s the argument long used to justify anti-gay discrimination (“it’s a choice”).
But if being LGBT were actually a choice… would that make discrimination against LGBT people more justifiable? I don’t think so and never did. Whether being LGBT is a choice or not never mattered to me in the slightest in demonstrating that it was wrong to discriminate against them.
- Finally, purely for the sake of argument, let’s indulge this tendentious distinction you’re making between Jews (not a choice) and Muslims (a choice):
Suppose the anti-Jewish speakers in my hypotheticals had said at the end: “by the way, by ‘Jew,’ I don’t mean people who were born into this group through no choice/fault of their own; I simply mean ‘those who are adherents to the religion known as Judaism.’ That is who I intend to malign and want to ban from public office.”
Would that really be acceptable to you?
The Anti-Muslim Controversies of the Last Week, Reimagined