culture shockers: Facebook game America 2049 asks, do we want a future where our religious faith makes us a target?

anti-islam-protest

photo courtesy of Crux Photography

The tragic events of September 11, 2001 also proved to be an unfortunate turning point in America’s socio-cultural dynamics. For a nation that’s built upon the principles of separating church and state, America’s multi-religious identity came to the forefront as specific groups, especially Muslims or Hindus and Sikhs (who were presumed to be Muslims), became the targets of mistrust and prejudice, both institutional and social. While Americans enjoy considerable religious freedom regardless of affiliation or faith, the increased polarization of the religious communities post-9/11 is a major cause for concern. This issue is addressed in Breakthrough’s multi-platform Facebook game America 2049 which, this week, takes players to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.

The future that America 2049 presents, and asks players to save, shows a country torn apart by hate and mistrust. Yet the scenario of the future isn’t too far from us today. The Gainesville Times recently published a letter to the editor that exemplified the extremities of religious and ethnic hate that exists in certain parts of the country. A reader, responding to the May 6 story of a Delta Airlines pilot refusing to fly with two Islamic imams onboard, said-

“It is impossible to distinguish between Muslims who are anti-American and just waiting for a chance to do us harm, and those who are merely pursuing their religious beliefs in this country. The only way to be sure and safe is to exclude them all. Such action would not constitute bias or racism against a particular nationality just because they may be different from us, or the condemnation of a specific religion because it differs from our beliefs but the action is necessary to create conditions in which it is safe to live without a constant fear of terrorism.”

Such blatant justification of Islamophobia is alarming and begs us to work towards much more comprehensive multicultural education. Such views are further bolstered with several states, such as Tennessee, looking to pass a state bill which would essentially ban the practice of Sharia law in the state. The letter received much criticism and supports the statistic put forth by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) that since 2000, the number of organized hate groups has increased by 50 percent.

America 2049 provides players with an interactive scenario where this situation — which is already all too real — gets worse in the near future. Players also learn about the strong Anti-Catholic sentiments that pervaded America in the mid-1800s. Such sentiments gave rise to a political party called The Know-Nothings – so called because members swore to deny any knowledge of the party when questioned by outsiders. The Know-Nothings exhibited an extreme disapproval of the wave of Irish and German Catholic immigrants to the U.S in the mid-1800s, often engaging in violence and pushing for stricter immigration and naturalization laws to restrict Catholic presence in the country.

In a classic case of history repeating itself — a point America 2049 aims to make – we are now witness to similar sentiments against Muslim or Arabian/South Asian immigration to the U.S. The recent uproar around the proposed construction of an Islamic Cultural Center near Ground Zero in New York City serves as an apt example of this prejudice. America 2049 aims to address such issues of mistrust and blind discrimination by challenging players to make their own choices on how to confront religious profiling by contextualizing the entire issue across history. The crucial question, therefore, is – in a country that prides itself on freedoms of many kinds, do we want a future where our faith makes us a target?

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May 31, 2011 by Pulkit
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1 Comment »

One Response to “culture shockers: Facebook game America 2049 asks, do we want a future where our religious faith makes us a target?”

  • Richard Keefe says:

    Posted: June 1, 2011 at 3:31 PM

    “…and supports the statistic put forth by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) that since 2000, the number of organized hate groups has increased by 50 percent.”

    The Atlantic article is packed with fascinating graphs, but the underlying data is meaningless. A few facts about the SPLC and “hate groups.”

    1. There is no legal definition for “hate group,” which is why even the FBI does not track
    “hate groups.”

    2. The SPLC uses the deliberately meaningless term “hate groups” in its fund-raising
    propaganda precisely because it allows them to denigrate their perceived
    opponents without accusing them of any actual crimes.

    Hate groups participate in “…marches, rallies, speeches, meetings, leafleting or publishing…” Seriously, these are “hate” activities?? And all this time I thought they were Constitutionally protected RIGHTS.

    No wonder the FBI was always after Dr. King, he was giving speeches, holding rallies and having meetings all the time. Who knew?

    3. The SPLC’s “Hate Map” is a fund-raising tool, nothing more. It provides no information whatsoever on the 1,002 alleged groups, in fact, the SPLC didn’t even bother to make up locations for 262 of the groups; that’s 26% of the total.

    http://wp.me/pCLYZ-8u

    In many states, the percentage of phantom groups runs as high as 80-100%. The SPLC’s public relations guru, Mark Potok, claims that there are 221 KKK chapters in the US, but he can’t seem to locate 109 of them. See for yourselves.

    http://www.splcenter.org/get-i

    4. Since the SPLC is the sole arbiter of the meaningless “hate group” label, AND because SPLC fund-raising is directly tied to creating the illusion of an ever-increasing threat, it is in their direct financial interest to raise the numbers each year.

    Since 2003, the SPLC has taken in more than a third of a BILLION dollars in tax-free cash, and yet the number of “hate groups” always goes up. When the sole arbiter of the “hate group” label bumps the numbers up 3-5% every year, hitting a “50% increase” in not much of a trick.

    http://wp.me/pCLYZ-82

    5. The most ironic (read: “hypocritical”) thing about the Southern Poverty Law Center is that NOT ONE of its top ten, highest paid executives is a minority.

    http://wp.me/pCLYZ-7m

    In fact, according to the SPLC’s hometown newspaper, the Montgomery Advertiser, despite being located LITERALLY in the back yard of Dr. Martin Luther King’s home church, the SPLC has NEVER hired a person of color to a highly paid position of power in its entire 40 year history.

    Some “experts”

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