February 7, 2013 - 2:36pm
BY YASH BHUTADA
The Sept. 11 attacks brought considerable change to the American culture. To some extent, brought us together as a nation. We began to revere our brave police officers and firefighters. We extolled former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani for keeping the city’s residents safe. On that day, we realized that America wasn’t insulated from the rest of the world and that we, like every other nation, were on the brink of disaster.
This glass-shattering realization, however, espoused controversial practices from the U.S. government. Discourse regarding national security appeared at the forefront of every debate and our liberties became threatened. Many of us have come to terms with the additional security checks at the airport and the possibility of wire-tapping. But the majority don’t truly understand the implications of heightened security.
Today, Muslims across the United States continue to be scrutinized by the public. Islamophobia, amplified after the bombing of the Twin Towers, which were linked to extremists who claimed a Muslim identity. This finding resurfaced irrationalities that Islam actually supports violence and terrorism. People foolishly searched for reasons why the terrorists attacked and scapegoated the religion. Many incorrectly interpreted the term “jihad” as violent holy war when in fact it means struggle. In response to the attacks, the government has deliberately profiled those who have Muslim last names or “look” like they practice Islam. These asinine deliberations have warranted the government to exclusively monitor mosques and businesses owned by Muslims across New York.
When the government initiates racist campaigns and instills panic across the country, it further encourages Islamophobic thoughts. It furthers the misconception that it’s okay to racially target populations and flagrantly discriminate against them. People justify their hatred toward Muslims by citing the government’s drive to protect national security.
There have been 16 mass shootings in the United States during 2012 and Muslims have participated in none. But America has decided to dwell on particular groups when considering acts of terror. In the past year, how frequently has race and religion been discussed when the person was white? When Michael Page fatally shot six people at the Sikh Gurdwara in Oak Creek, did anyone decide that being a white male was a threat to our country’s security? When twenty students were shot dead at Sandy Hook Elementary, did anyone talk about Adam Lanza’s identity and religious background?
It’s easy to seek minority groups and blame their identities as reasons for violence. It’s easy to pinpoint a specific reason for why a person acts a particular way because that’s how we come up with solutions and provide the public solace. The fact that the terrorist who bombed the Twin Towers was a Muslim is actually irrelevant to our conversation. Perhaps one day, we’ll realize what it means to be the person under scrutiny, the population under the microscope and the community that’s constantly misrepresented across the globe. Perhaps one day, we’ll realize that socially-ascribed identities don’t define a person’s character.
Yash can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.