It’s September 11, 2001, toward the end of the long day. Over 3000 persons, who earlier that morning had routinely left for work in New York City, kissing their wives and husbands goodbye, were no more. The largest and deadliest attack against the American homeland since Pearl Harbor had just occurred, and Americans were just starting to realize how it felt to live in what was to become known as “the post-9/11” world. News of the attacks spread across the entire world. And much of the world’s peoples shared our sorrow, offering their condolences.
But this empathy was not universal. It’s hard for Americans to forget the images of Palestinians rejoicing in the streets, rifles fired into the sky in celebration, at news of the successful attacks against the American infidels. And what about Muslims living in the United States? How did they react? Although many did sincerely abhor the attacks and publicly said so, most seemed to remain quiet. For them any outrage was, apparently, very short-lived. Even so, President Bush went out of his way when declaring war on terrorism that the war was against radical Islam, not against Islam itself. And even though in the immediate aftermath of the attacks all evidence pointed to Bin Laden and other Islamist-related groups, Bush urged the American people not to jump to judgement. Such is the time-honored fairness of the American people.
Although surely one can cite cases of injustices against Muslims in America, just as one can cite such cases against all groups from time to time, there is no evidence of systematic, irrational government discrimination against them. If anything, it’s the other way around. Even the descriptive phrase “Islamic Extremist” is rarely officially used in order not potentially to stigmatize. Thus the recently announced Million Muslim March on Washington, planned next month for the twelfth anniversary of the attacks, is not only insensitive and poorly timed, but makes no sense.
We live in a very tolerant society. Although virtually all recent terrorism against Americans has come from Islamists, we do not systematically profile them. Many believe we should. Can you think of any country where the enemy’s group has been completely identified, yet is not officially targeted? It seems true only here in America. In the United States one can even have Jihadist sympathies, planting bombs at parades, killing and maiming huge swaths of innocents, yet still receive a completely fair trial. One isn’t stoned to death, genitally mutilated, or beheaded by mobs. Muslims’ claims of widespread discrimination against them in America do not hold up under scrutiny.
Of course, this Million Muslim March may not go quite as planned. I recall in 1979 during the Iranian hostage crisis Iranian students, studying at colleges and universities in the Los Angeles area (largely at the American taxpayer’s expense), taking to the streets in support of the then-current American hostage-taking in Tehran. With emotions running quite high here at home, with images of blind-folded American hostages paraded through the Iranian streets still palpable, ordinary Americans witnessing this appalling “spit in America’s eye” demonstration, instead of sitting docilely to the side, actually got out of their cars (in Los Angeles, mind you!) and confronted the demonstrators, who were forced to back off. Next month at the Million Muslim March I wouldn’t be surprised if, although emotions may not be quite as high now as in 1979, ordinary Americans witnessing it might very well feel quite invigorated to do more than just simply watch this insult unfold.