I have a friend who is terrified of being picked up for being a terrorist. The reason for the fear? My friend can speak Arabic, and the neighbors have decided this makes my friend a terrorist. The biggest problem I have with my friend’s situation is simple.
It's cause entirely by ignorance and fear. This person is an intelligent US citizen with a skill sorely needed by our country. To be targeted because of a talent, even just by the neighbors is not right. This person is not Muslim, and love the USA enough to actually work for the government. Trust me, that takes some true patriotism there.
Still, for my friend to be targeted due to a language she speaks is the height of ignorance. The height of a very dangerous ignorance.
Because of laws passed in the wake of 9/11 and the terror caused by long wars in foreign climates, my friend could be detained indefinitely without being tried, charged, or an ounce of evidence. There would be no knowing that is what happened to this person. Instead, my friend could spend life in jail without so much as a charge leveled all because of the ability to speak Arabic.
What sort of sense does this make? How is this legal?
Oh yes. Fear. Fear is how this is legal. Fear, panic, and an awful lot of subtle propaganda. And not so subtle propaganda.
The last time we feared any one group of people so much was during World War Two. Then, we detained Japanese Americans, Italian Americans and German Americans in camps that met, barely internationaly standards for such places. That meant there was no internal plumbing, no cooking facilities. They were built to military specs, so families were often crammed into rooms.
Temporarily, they were often made to stay in horse stalls. Imagine, an entire family housed in an area meant to fit a horse. A single horse. Now, I know horses are big, but most horse stalls aren't that big of place.
The worst part of it all, of what happened to these people, is that it isn't taught, so it's forgotten. I never learned about these camps in school. People deny that such a thing would be possible in the grand ole US of A. But that's a lie.
I learned of the camps from a children's book of all things. The Bracelet by Yoshida Uchida told me a simple story that peaked my curiosity. I ended up learning the futility of arguing with my teachers thanks to the book, if nothing else. I had teacher deny that it happened.
Do you think they teach about the detention centers for Muslims that exist in the US? For suspected terrorists? Does calling them suspected terrorists make it okay to remove their rights?
Do not get me wrong. I am all for terrorists in prison where they can do much less harm. (I won't say no harm, given that mobsters can still run their organizations from inside a prison cell, but still.) However, I am not for anyone at all losing their rights for this to happen. Due process is guaranteed. Why should my friend be afraid of not having that process?
Guys, we cut off the head of the snake. Yes, like a hydra, a new one (or two) will grow in its place, but that will take time. Isn't it time we granted people, people like you or me, the rights promised to them on American soil?
Or will we violate all we stand for. No one should have to fear being taken away over an accusation.
Do you believe that it will stop with one group? With one talent? I know of one nation that did not stop at one group of people, at one religion. You'll forgive me, but I don't want to end up like that.
I don't know what I can do to stop this from happening, but I can tell you that. Most Muslims are not scary. Most Muslims I have met are calm people, with stress about their eyes from what they face daily. The Muslim women I have met have all been kind, and they have the cutest scarves out there. The Muslim men I have met have treated me with dignity and respect.
So do everyone, yourself included, a favor. Do not treat your neighbor, a human being, with fear and loathing because of their religion, their skin color, their heritage. Do not fear someone because of appearances.
And if you think that it will stop with just one group? Martin Niemöller has this to say:
"First they came for the communists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.
Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak out for me."
One Final Byte: Fear is a powerful device that controls many.