This morning I got in my car, adjusted my rearview mirror, backed out my driveway and turned on the radio. What I heard froze me in place. I'm not sure the details but what kept reverberating like an echo in my mind were the words: airplane. red alert. somber voices amid static. The fear that lurks in my heart every day since September 11, 2001 stood at attention, white. ghostly. Relief washed over me once I learned that despite the close call, there was no attack. But still, the rest of the day has felt surreal as fear grips me, surrounding me, spilling over the brim.
Like the rest of the US I fear another terrorist attack but I also fear the blame I will take for it from my fellow Americans. I fear mass hysteria and mob mentality. I fear internment camps. Punishing me for the acts of others. Acts I DISAGREE WITH. Acts that frighten me too.
People from professors to friends have said that if Muslims are not speaking out in droves against terrorism than our silence equals complicity. There are over one billion Muslims in the world. Almost four times the size of the United States population. Most Americans don't feel the actions of a stranger in South Dakota or New York or even our next door neighbor speak for us, but as Muslims we must go out in throngs to disavow the actions of a stranger who happens to be one of 1.6 billion people who call themselves Muslim. David Koresh was Christian. The BTK killer went to Church faithfully. Should I assume Christians love the actions of these men because they did not make a public announcement ("We as Christians do not condone murder. We are peaceful as a faith. These people do not represent us")? Baraka wrote a fantastic post where she included a quote from Anne Frank's diary: " Oh it is very, very sad that for the umpteenth time, what one Christian does is his own responsibility; what one Jew does is thrown back at all Jews.'" Such is it now a days for Muslims.
September 11th affected my life profoundly. I read a punctuation book and see a snide remark calling Muslims terrorists, I turn on the television and someone is declaring all Muslims domestic and abroad untrustworthy and violent. On the radio this morning I was told I needed to be eliminated. What did September 11 do for me. It added more fear, more terror in my heart because now its politically correct and acceptable to hate me. To look at me and my brothers with suspicion as we order teriyaki subs from Subway. It makes me fearful of what could follow.
Maybe its just my turn. Many other groups followed this path before. There was a time when it was okay to say African Americans were less intelligent than others. There was a time when no one batted an eye when a sign on a store would say "Jews need not apply". There was a time that Bugs Bunny made fun of Japanese and the government sent them off to internment camps. Right now its okay to hate me, and people like me with a blanket label. It's okay to make fun and hurt and harass and call for our eradication. I try to remind myself its our time. Like in the past, one day people will learn you can't judge all Muslims by the acts of a few. Just not yet...
For the record, I am against violence. period. You call yourself Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Buddhist, WHATEVER I am against violence as a means to resolve issues. Call it cheesy, idealistic, unrealistic but I am for peace, and love and harmony and tolerance and patience and kindness. That is my stance.
I'm striving to learn more but I am not as knowledgable as I'd like to be, so I normally stay quiet. My intention in writing this is not to stir up controversy. If you're looking for an agressive debate it's unlikely I will respond. You may see this inability to respond as a weakness and flaw.. i won't deny it... but we all are flawed.. I'm striving to improve.. these are just my feelings on the matter.
"Often times I have hated in self-defense; if I were stronger I would not have used such a weapon.” Khalil Gibran