Many people now look at Arab Muslims with fear, or treat them with prejudice. Others feel the need to treat them specially or with “understanding.”
This is all unnecessary.
Yes, everyone should be treated with understanding, but not because the World Trade Centers fell. It wasn’t Arab Muslims as a whole who committed the act. It was Muslim extremists, members of al-Qaida.
So what’s the problem? After the Timothy McVeigh bombing in Oklahoma City, we didn’t hate whites. When Ted Kaczynski, the man known as the Unabomber, was caught, we didn’t discriminate against Polish people — or smart people (this terrorist was a Harvard graduate with an IQ of 167).
I think people are prejudiced against Arab Muslims because the Islamic way of life seems different from what they know, that it somehow makes Muslims dangerous. But it’s not the everyday Arab that people are so afraid of; it’s the one in traditional garb. He looks different, which makes him easy to single out.
While people’s reaction to and treatment of Muslims are often unfair, irrational and fueled by fear, it doesn’t mean that terrorism isn’t out there. Muslim extremists certainly are our enemy — as well as anyone else who seeks to harm Americans. But people need to make the distinction: Muslim or Islam does not equal terrorism.
Instead, what needs to be stressed is how to spot suspicious activity in general, not just in people of Middle Eastern descent. While you’re on a plane constantly peeping over at the Muslim man, the white guy with blonde hair and blue eyes sitting next to you could be the one who’s really hiding a box cutter.
September 11 was traumatic and left people across the world scared. But discrimination is not the key to coping with what happened. Neither is trying to sympathize with those who really didn’t have anything to do with the incident.
Let them live their lives
Remember that innocent Muslims also died on that day. Muslims were a part of the community in and around the Word Trade Center, enough so that there were mosques within the building. There was even a Muslim site of prayer very close to where the plane crashed into the Pentagon. I’m sure there were innocent Muslims on the plane making scared, last phone calls to their families like every other passenger.
Ten years after 9/11, we must ensure that the morale and safety of the United States are maintained. Nothing like this can happen again, and we’ve done a good job of that so far. The thousands of rescue workers and nearby residents who developed illnesses or were in other ways affected by the 9/11 attacks must continue to receive support. The day that these things stop happening is the day we really let the terrorists win.