The event itself was one of those defining moments in time for every American. I think all of us can remember exactly where we were the moment we learned of the attacks. TV played the tape of the planes hitting the towers over and over, burning the images into our minds.
America fell silent, and for a brief few days we really were One Nation, or so it seemed. Flags flew from nearly every home, and those who didn’t have a flag rushed out to buy one. The nation was awash in red, white and blue.
Nearly all Americans were caught up in the moment. The tide of patriotism washed over America like a tsunami. Tides rise and tides ebb. At its peak, I heard from my good friend Ali who was mad about the attack.
Ali is originally from Iran. His family was tied to the Shah and when the revolution came he and his family stayed in America. The family lives in Dallas, and in many ways, Ali is a cowboy and he was outraged at those who had attacked his nation.
Within days, Ali started losing friends. He didn’t understand why. He is a Patriotic, flag-waving American who loves the Dallas Cowboys, hamburgers and french fries. He just happens to pray to Allah.
His view was interesting. He didn’t view the attacks as Islamic extremism. His view was it was Saudi extremists who hate America’s support for the House of Saud. He is right. That is the why the attacks happened, and who carried out the attacks.
Americans didn’t care about the Geopolitics behind the attacks. We only knew we had been attacked, and we knew Muslims had done it. Within a couple of days of the attack, a mob mentality took over and all the Nation cared about was the religion of the attackers.
War in the name of religion is not unknown in the West. In fact, it is as common as grass. The last war in the name of Religion was in the 1990s in The Balkans. The Serbian Orthodox waged war against the Roman Catholic Croatians and Bosnian Muslims in an effort to keep Yugoslavia together. In that war, alliances were formed around religion and ethnic cleansing based on religion was carried out by the Serbs and Croats.
So for a war to be religious-based is not just a Muslim thing. It’s very much our thing too.
Religious hate replaced patriotism in the post 9/11 America. It still exists and playing to hate against Muslims is a cornerstone of Donald Trump’s campaign for the White House. Trump fuels the hate against Muslims, and doesn’t even acknowledge the vast majority of American Muslims who were both appalled by the attacks, and are angry about the perversion of their religion by those who use it to practice terrorism.
The voices of Muslims who reject terrorism have been lost in the hate rhetoric in the West. They exist and are quite vocal in the Middle East but America doesn’t care to listen to them. That has made it very hard for American Muslims who should enjoy all the freedoms the rest of us enjoy, under the Constitution. Evidence of the mob mentality and American dislike for Muslims was still high as late as 2014.
Pew Research, on Religion and Public Life, did a study on how religious groups were viewed nationally. Muslims scored the lowest rating, scoring even lower than Atheists.
Fifteen years after the attacks, the hate still rages. When will we put it away?
According to a study by Georgetown University, there has been a rise in hate crimes against Muslims in America that coincides with Trump’s hate speech.
That very same hate speech may be the trigger for the tide turning against the unjustified hate against Muslims that was born as a result of 9/11.
Although it was a political forum, Muslim-American lawyer Khizr Khan, whose son was killed in Iraq, was a wake-up call there are patriotic Muslims in the USA and some of them even die for the Nation.
We mark 15 years since that horrible day. We need to remember that day, remember the victims of the attack. We also need to remember it is not the fault of a religion and not hold the attacks against our fellow Americans who are Muslims.
We need to remember to judge people as individuals and not according to their race, religion, or national origin, but who they are as individuals.
The legacy of 9/11 should be for us to remember the victims, and their families; to be reminded it is a dangerous World and to re-commit to defending our way of life. That also means defending those who worship the way they see fit. That’s the American Way.
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