“If a terrorist group gets active, you don’t think it will be Joe White Guy who will turn them in, do you?”
In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, many feared that Americans would strike out at Muslims simply because they were available and there was rage aplenty to be vented. While there were isolated incidents, the anticipated widespread backlash thankfully never really materialized. Since then, though, many Muslims, especially those hailing from the Middle East, have begun to feel like lepers. It’s not hard to understand why, when you consider the number of Right-wing zealots (et tu, Bill O’Reilly?) who are calling for racial profiling directed specifically against Muslims and other vaguely “Arab-looking” sorts. It’s true that some sort of profiling may in fact make sense. Even so, singling out a single racial/ethnic/religious group based primarily on the fact that they’re easy to segregate because they don’t look like us is just plain wrong.
An American is an American is an American, regardless of the color of your skin, your heritage, or the flavor of God you happen to pray to. If you have or are about to commit a crime, you deserve to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. That your skin color, your accent, and/or your faith may set you apart from White America should not automatically make you suspect (don’t make me bring up Timothy McVeigh and Paul Hill, OK?). Even if you happen not to be an American citizen, how does it serve us to assume the worst of someone simply because of the color of their skin?
We’ve already had one experience with segregating an entire segment of the American population into camps simply because they looked different. Have you ever wondered what would have happened if we had rounded up all German-Americans and Americans of German descent as we did with Japanese-Americans? Man, 70% of the entire American population would have been behind barbed wire. This sort of thing doesn’t work, no matter how much those hate-peddlers try to convince us otherwise.
Though there are those who insist that the hatred and marginalization of Muslims is the only way to ensure our safety, giving into to our baser instincts would only demonstrate that we’ve learned nothing from our history. Islam is not the problem here. Muslims are not the problem. Yes, there are those radicalized Muslims would believe that their faith requires them to kill “Infidels”. This small minority are little more than common, garden-variety murderers. These people are as much Muslims as I am. Islam is not a religion of evil and mass murder, though there are those would commit mass murder in its name.
Five years later, we would do well to remember how most of us reacted in the aftermath of 9.11. Most Americans managed to come together in ways we’d never previously expreienced. While life may have long since returned to something resembling normal (or what passes for it), we can still be the sort of nation that treats every American as if they belong. Muslim Americans are AMERICANS, with just as much right to be here as any White person.
WE DESERVE BETTER.