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Pet Sins November 2001

Racist Public Reaction in the Wake of Terrorist Attacks on America

By now most of us have heard news reports about non-Muslim Americans refusing to share a flight with "Middle-Eastern looking" people, non-Muslim Americans cutting business ties with Muslim Americans, radio talk show hosts asking whether "racial profiling" is justified in the light of these horrendous events... Let me just ask, "When the perpetrators of the Oklahoma City bombing were found to be European American, did the public react by refusing to enter public buildings with European Americans? Did the extremists in the media even mention interning European Americans then the same way they talk about interning Muslim Americans now? Did anyone even think about treating European Americans then with the same suspicion we treat Middle Eastern Americans now? Did people make generalizations about all European Americans based on that incident?"

Similarly, during WWII, the Japanese Americans suffered internment while the German Americans did not. Both Japan and Germany were at war with the U.S.

When Osama Bin Laden speaks hatefully about America, he uses the language of religion: Muslims vs the infidels. But when Americans react to Osama's evil deeds (assuming it is indeed him), we, in typical American style, use chiefly the language of race. Non-Muslim Asian Americans of South Asian or West Asian descent have been targets of physical violence and verbal abuse in the wake of the attacks.

Osama hits out at us as a religious fanatic, and a sizable portion of the American public react as racists. And this is what the world sees. They are not notice as much the good people of America who don't think this way, they will not notice the U.S.'s efforts to help Afghanistan without hurting the Afghan people.