My MAGA Neighbor II: Water Sprinkers and Taqiyya


See first post in this series

“This goddamn Taqiyya machine is driving me nuts. I’m going Jihadi!”

Last month, I ran into Roy while battling with his Alexa Sprinkler. The voice-activated sprinkler would activate on its own without him giving the instruction. By the looks of it he was getting really worked up.

I couldn’t help but burst out laughing at the whole thing. Here was this pure-bread WASP, 6 ft 2 and 240 pounds, yelling at his sprinkler on his lawn in a string of profanities comically interlaced with Arabic words pronounced like a khawaga.

His “Taqiyya” referenced the trope among the far right that Muslims conceal their real beliefs and violent tendencies by practicing Taqiyya: the act of deception when one is in the minority.

It was then and there that I realized that that it might make for an interesting social experiment to actually try to educate Roy about this stuff he was spouting without really understanding.

“Roy, is your sprinkler controlled by a Shiite?”

He looked at me quizzically, “How am I supposed to know, it must be made in goddamn China!” He burst out laughing. Then he asked “What’s Shiite got to do with my sprinkler?”

“Well, Taqiyya is a Shia concept, it was conceived because Shia Muslims were forced to hide their true belief for centuries for fear of persecution by Sunni Muslims. Sunnis actually resented them for it, and used Taqiyya as a way to discredit them by saying that they were not true Muslims.”

“Really?? I had no idea. I knew Shia and Sunna hated each other, but didn’t know that Taqiyya was originally that. No one has told me that. How come?”

“I don’t know. Maybe those who talk about it most never bothered to do their homework on it. Or is that some wanted to block the possibility that not all Muslims are Jihad-crazed fanatics?”

“That’s interesting. Well, you’re not doing Taqiyya on me. Are you?”

We both started laughing. Then Roy invited me in to his kitchen, and pulled out two beers. Then he caught himself. “Oh, crap, yeah you don’t drink. Sorry I didn’t mean to offend.”

“Roy, why would I be offended. We’ve been around each other all these years, and you’ve had barbecues at my place where you brought your own drink, and I’ve been at your barbecues where you had your booze.”

“Well, I thought it was forbidden”

“Yes, it is. But I don’t care if you drink or not. This is America man!”

At which we carried on our conversation going back to the sprinkler. As I headed home, I realized that Roy’s politics weren’t a hopeless case. There was room to engage with him as long as one stayed away from the classic Right-Left divide.

His worldview is that there’s a liberal position on Islam (which is weak), and a conservative position on Islam (which is right). Deviating from this binary triggers him. By taking the conversation out of that framework, I had an opening. That was a valuable lesson for me to learn!

To be continued…