Politicians, citizens ostracize American Muslims under guise of national security

Photo+courtesy+of+Sean+Kennedy+Oops%2C+it+seems+Rep.+King+and+Gov.+Barbour+forgot+about+that+pesky+establishment+clause%2C+not+to+mention+common+decency.
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Politicians, citizens ostracize American Muslims under guise of national security

Photo courtesy of Sean Kennedy Oops, it seems Rep. King and Gov. Barbour forgot about that pesky establishment clause, not to mention common decency.

Photo courtesy of Sean Kennedy Oops, it seems Rep. King and Gov. Barbour forgot about that pesky establishment clause, not to mention common decency.

Photo courtesy of Sean Kennedy Oops, it seems Rep. King and Gov. Barbour forgot about that pesky establishment clause, not to mention common decency.

Photo courtesy of Sean Kennedy Oops, it seems Rep. King and Gov. Barbour forgot about that pesky establishment clause, not to mention common decency.

Kyle Shook

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Dr. Benjamin Franklin once stated, “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” This sentiment, spoken over 200 years ago, proved eerily accurate in the course of American history.

Living in proverbial isolation and sharing borders with only two nations, the United States has enjoyed a mild history of conflict and home-soil attack. However, when Americans feel threatened, we historically have had a tendency of panic.

Following the Pearl Harbor attack in 1941, Japanese Americans (and frankly any east-Asian American) faced public persecution and persistent questioning of their loyalties. This paranoia was enough that the government began concentrating Japanese Americans in camps for the remainder of the war. Similarly, when the Soviet Union and the United States emerged out of the Second World War as the planet’s only “super-powers,” the threat of Communist invasion and infiltration became so great that the government began to question and investigate truly dangerous, hardened Soviet revolutionaries such as Lucille Ball and Julia Child and even execute those suspected of passing on American secrets to the “Red Menace” in Moscow (see Julius and Ethel Rosenburg).

We frequently say that hindsight is 20/20, yet when is there enough hindsight that it can evolve into foresight? Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, a new “public enemy” emerged on the American scene: Muslim-Americans.

I remember vividly a high school teacher of mine bragging about leading a rebellion on a flight by refusing to board the plane because as Muslim couple was flying on it that day. Whether it be a question of building a community center erroneously labeled a mosque near Ground Zero, or a sociopath in Florida wanting to burn copies of the Koran in a demented and un-American protest, it is impossible to shake this sickening paranoia that is pitting Americans against other Americans—or even more broadly, human beings against other human beings.

You might have read about Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) who is currently leading an investigation into a theorized “radicalization of American Muslims.” His theory is that it is a tool used by al Qaeda to recruit young Muslims as part of a larger plan to continue attacking the United States. Low and behold: history hath repeated itself in the form of another sickening, discriminatory witch hunt fueled by nothing more than scapegoating.

Are we or are we not a nation founded on principles of religious tolerance? I would need reminding as to what part of this is tolerant or constitutional. A slew of 2012 hopefuls, including Gov. Barbour of Mississippi, have called for federal bans on Islamic law and have joined the ranks of those pointing the post-9/11 finger at Muslim Americans.

However, these politicians never fail to distinguish that their goal is not to discriminate against ALL Muslims. No, they magnanimously point out that they are only bent on fighting against the religious rights of Muslims whom they suspect of being radical or violent. Isn’t that just gracious of them? I am personally refreshed to know that these people who are using their political authority to platform trashing a religion they do not understand are only doing so in the name of American security.

As Americans, we are obliged to stand up for the rights of others when we see rights being abridged, especially in the wake of a national tragedy. I would advise that we all reflect on what would best aid the nation: a bitter and ill-aimed investigation into the religion of millions of Americans or maintaining the tolerant and unified attitude that we are meant to strive towards?

It has been ten years since that day we all remember, and yet discrimination has only seemed to sprout into a larger beast. With such potent manure as that spewing from the mouths of prominent politicians such as King and Barbour, I fear that this sprout will only grow larger.

 

Comments on this opinion can be sent to kyle.mitchell.shook@live.mercer.edu

 

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