On September 11 Anniversary, A Reflection On Hatred
To those who know what happened on that infamous fall morning, the date September 11th will forever be viewed in a different light. The United States of America was rocked by a tragedy that rivals any single event that has ever happened on American soil. Nine years later, the emotions we felt and images we saw on that Tuesday morning are still fresh in our hearts and minds. The after effects of the events that transpired are still being felt today.
The events of 9/11 and the ensuing military efforts in the Middle East sparked a firestorm involving how Muslims and people of Middle Eastern descent were treated in this country. When we learned that a group of militant Muslims were behind the attacks, saw images, and read reports about American lives being lost in the Middle East, some Americans began taking “justice” into their own hands. Mosques were vandalized, Muslims were harassed, and racial profiling was evident across the country. The reason? They just happened to practice the same religion and look like the men who attacked our nation.
Even today, nine years after the tragedy that left thousands of Americans dead, Muslims still struggle to overcome the discrimination they face. Pastor Terry Jones of Florida went so far as to invite thousands to take part in a massive Koran burning event on September 11th, 2010. People were expected to come and publicly burn the Muslim holy book in remembrance of those who died in the attacks.
To go along with Koran burning pastor, a debate rages on as to whether or not a mosque should be built near ground zero. The people against the proposed idea contend that a mosque close to ground zero would be “insensitive” to those who died as a result of the twin towers collapsing. Others say that in America, there is no reason why a mosque shouldn’t be built there. Every American has the fundamental right to practice any religion they please, wherever they wish to practice it. Who is to say where they can and cannot put a new mosque?
This new era of racial and religious intolerance is a result of many Americans associating Islam and those who practice it with the deaths of thousands of Americans. One question I have is this: if the attackers were, for instance, from a militant group composed of Roman Catholics, would people have reacted the same way? Would people run around vandalizing and breaking windows of Catholic churches? Would they organize events to burn the Bible? Would they strongly protest the building of a church near ground zero? Seeing as how these questions will never be answered (lest a militant group of Roman Catholics attack the United States), I will venture to guess that the response would be nowhere near as extreme.
Perhaps the main contributing factor to these feelings is the fear of the unknown. The majority of Americans do not know how the Islamic faith works or what they even believe in. The only information they have about Islam is from what they hear on the news. They hear that the group of men who attacked our nation practiced Islam and assume that everyone who practices the religion is a threat to their safety. Maybe if people spent the time to learn about the Islamic faith, they would understand that the terrorists who attacked out country were from an extremist offshoot of Islam. But very few Americans care to take the time to sit down and learn that Islam focuses on things like daily prayer and eliminating inequality through charitable donations. President Obama said it best in a news conference when he stated, in regards to the intolerance towards Muslims in the United States, “we are one nation, under God. We may call that God different names, but we remain one nation.”
Our nation went through the same thing when Pearl Harbor was attacked by Japan. Japanese-Americans were forced to give up everything they had and moved into camps because they were considered a “threat” to out nation’s safety. We eventually moved forward and are no longer discriminatory towards people of Japanese heritage. I just hope that the same will eventually happen in this era of irrational fear against Muslims.
Reach columnist Christopher Steele here