Like Pulling Teeth

My racist dentist is on a roll today. She’s always been good at her job, but it appears she’s even better at being a bigot, leastways around me.

Today’s topic of choice is Muslims, which happens to be the topic of choice for every appointment I’ve had with her — three in all. She doesn’t know that my father is Egyptian, as I’ve deemed that to be one of those things I’d do better to omit. Even though I’m not a Muslim, I don’t imagine she’d take kindly to someone of Middle Eastern descent on her chair. Racists tend not to be all that attentive regarding the nuances of race, no matter how well they seem to be educated.

So there’s some pop country song playing on the speakers (she’s the real deal, with a degree from Baylor and a West Texas accent), and it’s providing a pretty gruesome soundtrack to the already gruesome procedure I’m undergoing. There’s nothing seriously wrong with my teeth, but the aggression with which she is hacking away at them makes listening to Toby Keith or whoever the fuck this is all the more excruciating — no doubt exacerbated by the anti-Islamic sentiment coursing through her veins.

“They’re just the scum of the earth, those people…and they all deserve to die, don’t you think”? I shrug my shoulders ambivalently and try not to laugh, which she takes as a sign of agreement, enabling further elaboration of her prejudices. I did so hope that would happen. “If it weren’t for [sic] those damned Islamists, we wouldn’t be in the position we are now. It’s all Obama’s fault, I’m telling you”. I sort of nod with my eyes so that I don’t jeopardize a stray movement from the sharp instruments she’s wielding in either hand. Something tells me it wouldn’t do much good to point out that the nascence of Islamic radicalism originated well before President Obama’s administration.

It’s surprising how little I find myself offended by this, owing to the blindness and misinformed nature of the venom being spewed, I suspect. There was a time when such vitriol would’ve ignited fury in me, despite not actually being a follower of Islam. At the moment, however, I find it more amusing that such sentiment is being imposed upon someone who is unable to dispute it without risking the consequence of physical harm.

Al-Qaida this, Bin Laden that. She’s jumping from stereotype to stereotype with astounding reduction and oversimplification. What’s unfortunate is that there are a number of very legitimate and well-founded criticisms to be made of the Islamic religion and it’s practices, many failures and injustices calling for drastic reform; but she’s not addressing any of them. Instead, my racist dentist adheres to a strict agenda of willful ignorance and myopia. This is a shamefully common offense committed by critics of the Muslim world, failing to educate themselves as to the real issues, in favor of resigning to ill-informed discriminations.

She briefly pauses her tirade to inform me that “we’re almost done here, just remember to floss and brush twice daily”. It’s something of a relief, but I’ll admit to enjoying the novelty of a look at the other side’s position, warped and delusional though it may be. After turning off the overhead light — which felt a lot like one that could be used for interrogation — and removing my weird, papery bib, she gives me a toothy white smile and asks if I’d like to schedule my next appointment. I politely say no, then she’s kind enough to walk me out to reception and ask about my plans for the holidays.

I tell her I’ll be traveling for a few weeks, seeing family overseas. “Oh, how wonderful!”, she says, “where will you be going?”

“Egypt”, I answer, smiling on my way out the door.

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