Though the movie X-Men is based on science fiction, it brings up many interesting issues that are similar to our world today. In the film, some over-aggressive mutants’ actions have made human more scared of them. Similarly, in our world, the act of Islam terrorist has created Islamophobia. The choice of William Stryker is an excellent example of the mind set of discrimination against people who are different.
The discrimination against Muslim does not start after the September 11 attacks, but this event has since inflated the discrimination. There is no arguing that the September 11 attacks and activities of terrorists are inhumane and horrifying. They stir up fear inside the public. The public then gradually transform the fear into hatred. However, the terrorists and Muslim around the world are different. So, we must ask ourselves why. Why do we associate all Muslim in the world with terrorists?
In my opinion, the fear spread by the terrorist has fogged people’s judgment. They are so afraid of these actions that an impression is imprinted on their subconscious. Thus, their minds naturally associate two distinct concepts: Muslim and terrorist. Their fears then hinder them from trying find and understand the difference between the terrorists’ idea and a genuine teaching of Islam. The terrorists have a twisted perspective of true Islam, and they are trying to impose this point of view on other by killing, in contrast to the teaching of Islam, like all other religion, which is to care for other and create peace in the world. People’s fear kept them from seeing this fact.
People are scared that the terrorist will kill them. Thus, as a coping mechanism, people gradually turn fear into hatred. This hatred then turns to prejudice against all Muslim, because it is easier for us to blame other, to hurt other so that we can feel assured.
As mentioned before, discrimination against Muslim is not only caused by the terrorist’s activities but also because how different they are. We are afraid of what we don’t understand. If we can’t understand something, we have the sense that this thing can take control over us and somehow affect the stability of our life. We want the world around us to be as we know it, understand it. If something different comes along, we try to push them away to eliminate the uneasy feelings. We find a simple way is to deny them without knowing more. This desire to control, desire for power is the root of fear.
Similarly, in the movie X-Men, people are discriminating against mutants because they are different, not normal. They are not easy to control as ordinary people. Thus, even if there is a slight chance that they might rise and take power away from non-mutants, non-mutants will do anything to hold on to their stability. I believe this is the core of William Stryker’s view.
Right from early life, Stryker has been anti-mutant. His view that mutants and non-mutants are at war can be traced back to his experience. Stryker is a man who had been through war. The horrifying of war partially built his idea of controlling or killing mutants as their ability is superior to non-mutants. Therefore, because of the difference, he sees them not as human but as a new threatening species that need to be fix or control.
How ironic life is that his son is a mutant and he is the one who passes on the gene to his son. He was so overwhelmed by this fact that he tries to get his son fix. When he started to accept his son as a mutant, it was already too late. His son then seeing his mutant ability as a curse drove his mother crazy and killed hers. This incident is fate’s cruel joke. As the same time, it can also be seen as cause and effect. Stryker had done horrible thing to mutants, and now he is living in a nightmare made by a special mutant – his son. Fate set him up, throw at him the consequence of his action. There is nothing he can do to change this. But what he does to deal with this is what matter.
In the movie, his grief has consumed him and transform into anger as a coping mechanism. His action is his way of showing and relieving the pain he had felt. This incident is a chance for Stryker to change his way. He can exploit this hardship to do better. In my opinion, hardship can be painful and unbearable, but they also have the effect of pushing humanity forward. When you think about it, how can you no true pleasure without knowing pain. One may argue that true happiness can be achieved without pain or sorrow, but that is just superficial pleasure, they are tricking your sense into believing it. Pain allows us to appreciate more; pain can motivate us to act well.
He had choices. However, he chose to let this tragedy to magnify his hate for mutants.
Though Stryker’s action is inhumane and I don’t agree with them, I can have empathy with him as we can not judge what other people are really going through. We can only decide for ourselves. If I were put in his position, I can not guarantee that I will do differently than him. Maybe I will do something much worse. But in a perfect scenario, I can see that if he can move away from the grieve, take a step back and look at the situation; he can see that if his son has understood to love himself, as other mutants should, this disaster would not have happened. Using this as a motivation, he can help other mutants to be able to be themselves.
In conclusion, we are continuously being hindered by our belief that everything is under our control, that everything different from our knowledge is a threat to happiness. In the case of Islamophobia or William Stryker, this belief has caused discrimination and prejudice; thus, creating pain for others. In our world, discrimination, prejudice is continuously happening and renewing. To remove them, we need to think back to ourselves, learning and renewing our knowledge about the world, about how to accept differences.