July 13, 2014

Holly Fisher vs. Reem Al-Riyashi

One of the many proverbs my parents taught me was, "Don't judge a book by its cover." The core idea is that we can never tell the true nature of a thing by the look it presents to the world. Butterflies are beautiful, harmless, and vital to the successful procreation of countless trees, flowers, and other plants. Lionfish are beautiful, deadly predators, and also cannibals who sometimes devour the offspring of same-species competitors. Both species, one of the air, the other of the water, are so colorful that small children and unwary adults are prone to reaching out and touching them. Handling a butterfly dislodges delicate scales from its wings which can cause it to lose the ability to control itself in flight. This can render it unable to feed, leading to a slow, lingering death by starvation. Handling a lionfish will result in a powerful, potentially fatal toxin being injected straight into the bloodstream by the sharp spines decorating its body. The lionfish will survive, but the person who handled it will have nausea, sharp pains in their arms and legs, difficulty breathing, and may even experience partial paralysis in the limb that received the initial injection. Death is rare in healthy adults, but common in children, the elderly, and anyone with a weakened immune system.

Being able to recognize that two similar things, such as King Snakes and Coral Snakes, can be dangerously different is an important skill to develop. The only way to develop this skill is through research and study. Picking up two similar books will often reveal dramatic differences in content and style. The only way to determine which book you need to learn the difference between King Snakes and Coral Snakes is to pick up each book independently and examine it in detail. Assuming a similar appearance will create a similar experience is a very dangerous way to go through life. Everyone should understand this. It should be common sense because it is vital to a person's ability to survive. That is why over-generalizations like the one in this picture completely blow my mind:

Do I really need to go into each woman's public background and image in order to reveal the differences? Would it not make more sense to recognize immediately that although the surface is similar, the potential for violence is probably much different? Both women have a similar pose, both women hold a rifle, and both women hold a holy book, but that does not mean that both women are dangerous, violent extremists waiting for an opportunity to kill as many innocent people as possible. Naturally, judging strictly by the side-by-side photos it is possible that both women hold the same destructive potential, however, it is not realistic to immediately assume this is true. Just like with King Snakes and Coral Snakes, or Butterflies and Lionfish, to determine accurately which woman is a dangerous religious radical destined for terrorism requires something more than just looking at a picture of them side-by-side. If you immediately jump to the conclusion that both women are on the verge of shooting up a shopping mall, bombing a pizza place, or kidnapping young women to sell them as sex slaves, then you are deeply prejudiced and you are part of the problem with the world today.

If you want to be part of the solution instead of part of the problem then you are going to have to do some research. I suggest you start here:

Wikipedia: Samantha Lewthwaite
Wikipedia: Reem Riyashi
Twitter: Holly R. Fisher
Facebook: Holly R. Fisher, West Virginia
National Review: Holly Fisher, Public Enemy #310345201
Newsday: Army Wife's Twitter Photo Sets Off Firestorm
Liberal America: Holly Fisher is Shocked at the Outrage
NY Daily News: West Virginia Mom Sparks Controversy
Fox News Insider: Holly Fisher Viciously Attacked Online
UK Daily Mail: Gun and Bible Enthusiast Sparks Firestorm
Fox News: Holly Fisher Responds to her Critics with Grace and Decorum
Facebook: Holly Responds to her Critics on Facebook and Twitter