I remember reading about the Red Scare and McCarthyism in history class. History was boring as all hell when I was teenager but there were always a few stories that stood out. This was one of them.
I remember thinking how stupid people were in the early part of the 1900’s then later through the 1940’s and 50’s. But, I figured “hey,” at the time the country also had a lot of indifference towards women and people of color. Cigarettes were not considered a safety habit. Far from it. Smoking back then was cool. Alcohol on the other hand was illegal – until it wasn’t illegal. That too became cool.
Sitting on my bubble gum embroidered classroom desk, I felt that it was safe to say the U.S. was a bit dumb in those days. Dumb, ignorant, and crazy. However, I never in a million years thought my generation would be capable of doing something as crazy as this. After all, we read about it in history class almost every year from middle school to high school. Boy, was I wrong.
A good friend of mine wrote a letter to her colleagues recently in what appeared to be a moment of pure exasperation. She is Muslim and an absolutely wonderful person. I was so moved by the letter that I asked if I could print it on the blog. She said yes. Please, read it below and, as you do, remember that we sat through these boring history class lectures – every year. We need to remind ourselves that we know this story.
Or, I’ll put it to you this way.
You know those modern day period movies that take place in the south, circa 1950? You know those ignorant, racist white characters that are usually seen oppressing our good natured, hard working and honest black protagonist? You remember how you felt watching these dumb hicks on t.v.? In the movie theater? Well, one day they’re going to make a movie – no, many movies – about these days. You don’t want to be the dumb, ignorant, hateful Islamaphobic dude. No one in the theater ever likes that guy.
Check out the letter below.
I hope this reaches you well. I am writing to you in distress and with a plea for your help; a friend to a friend. This past week Mr. King (Rep. from NY and chairman of Homeland Security) held congressional hearings on the danger of Muslims. Here is an article that sums up the hearings: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/11/us/politics/11king.html. There will be more hearings in the future.
I can’t describe to you the pain and distress these hearings caused me, my family and my friends. The fact that Muslims are being called out based on a stereotype, the actions of a few, is scary and a complete throwback to eras like McCarthyism and Yellow Fever during which American people who identified as Communist or Japenese were also targeted and sterotyped to the degree that they were villainized and hurt by fellow Americans. One of my Christian friends said to me once that these acts of violence and hate that Muslims are being accused of are present in all groups of people and I agree– just think back to the killing spree or act of terrorism committed against Representative Gabriella Gifford in Arizona. However, was this killer referred to as a terrorist? Further, the organizations that Muslims are part of are being villainized when all these orgs. have been committed to doing over the last decade is combating any form of violence and protecting the human rights of all. This slander has even been directed towards the faith-based organization that I am part of and have told you so much about (MAS).
I am worried about what these hearings will do to the already negative image many Americans have of Muslims; especially those with little to no experience with Muslims. It just isn’t fair that I have to worry about my nephew and nieces getting hurt because of the faith that we believe in. On the day of the hearings, a friend of mine who wears a traditional Muslim headscarf was pumping gas in Canton when a woman walked up to her and said, “You know you won’t win.” My friend looked confused and the woman mumbled something and then replied, “And that (pointing to her headscarf); that doesn’t belong here.”
I appeal to you guys for help. You have had experiences with Muslims and understand, although it should be common sense, that we are normal people just like you. You believe in the freedom of religion that is outlined in our constitution. Please share this very simple information with your loved ones, neighbors, friends and co-workers. Not everyone believes in these simple truths and you can help them realize this as I do believe that deep inside each of us is the will to love but unfortunately propaganda like the King hearings dissuade that love into fear, suspicion, and hate. You can do this with a simple Facebook status update, email, text message, or mention in a conversation. I and millions of other Muslims will continue to fight violence and hate against innocence and I know you will do the same. Below are a few statements you can share with others.
Thank you for your time.