Worlds Religion: Critical Commentary
September 11, 2001, a day that will always be remembered around the world due to the casualty of over 3,000 people at the World Trade Center. On that day, four separate attacks took place all organized by the Islamic terrorist group of Al-Queda. This was a tragic event in history that united the U.S. for it was the largest terrorist attack on U.S. soil. Many nations around the world sent their condolences and together the United States began to slowly recover. This even however, resulted in a stigma shared through the U.S. in relation to the Islamic terrorist group and the violence that their religion encourages. Americans quickly took notice to those who fit the description of an “ideal” terrorist. Prejudice, racism, stereotypes, and hate crimes towards Muslims and those who fit the description thereof began to rise dramatically. Americans were using violence to retaliate and heal faster. There were 481 reported hate crimes against Muslims and Sikhs after 9/11 and now for the first time since September 11, 2001, hate crimes within America have risen rapidly with 260 reported hate crimes now in the books for 2015. People are reporting that a major reason for the rise in hate crimes is due to the presidential election of 2016. The articles discussed in this essay demonstrate the differences in the hate crimes in the years post 9/11 and the hate crimes that have recently increased prior to the 2016 presidential election and after the election. There is also an argument discussing why these hate crimes happen from the perspective of a pastor.
The first article, titled Hate Crimes Against American Muslims Most Since 9/11 Era, discusses that hate crimes against American Muslims has increased 78% during 2015. In 2001, there were around 2,000 more hate crimes in total as compared to the previous year. Hate crimes against American Muslims had increased from 28 to 481 all due to the 9/11 terrorist attack. Americans felt weak and scared following the attack and took vengeance upon innocent American Muslims and those who perceived to be part of the religion. Hate crimes ranged from terroristic phone calls to Islamic centers, burglary, vandalism and even beatings and murders. Another article titled, 15 years after 9/11, Sikhs still victims of anti-Muslim hate crimes, the author, Moni Basu, explains that a lot of the Anti-Muslim hate crimes are not against Muslims at all but upon those of the Sikh religions which is different from traditional Islam. The reason for these attacks on Sikhs is because unlike Muslims, the Sikh religion requires that all men wear turbans and also typically have long beards and dress traditionally. Basu writes, “Hate crimes against Muslims and those perceived as Muslims spiked after 9/11. Sikh men grow long beards and wear turbans as a commitment to their faith, and many Americans mistake them for Muslims”. Occidentalism plays its role in the process when Americans see this and believe that they are Muslim regardless of their religion. It is mostly mere appearance that results in these hate crimes. Hate crimes against Muslims and those perceived as Muslims spiked after 9/11. Sikh men grow long beards and wear turbans as a commitment to their faith, and many Americans mistake them for Muslims.
The recent attacks against middle easterners in America arose from the terror attacks in both the U.S. and Europe, the Paris terror attacks increased the prejudice and racism against Muslims prior to the 2016 election. The stigma regarding Muslims being dangerous increased dramatically due to these events. Another article written by MJ Lee, discusses how Muslim Americans feel now that Donald Trump has been elected president. President-elect Donald Trump declared in his campaign that he would declare a ban on Muslim immigrants as well as a registry for Muslims who are here along with many other controversial topics. It is believed that many Americans who voted for Donald Trump feel justified in their actions because of Mr. Trump and his tactics about handling the “Muslim Crisis”. Basu says in her article that the 2016 election has re-established a sense of hate and islamophobia against Muslim Americans and the perceived as such along with an increase of hatemongers. Muslims have identified Donald Trump as a “ringleader of hate”, as stated in Lee’s article, “Being Muslim American in the year of Donald Trump”. Hina Ansari, a Muslim American woman interviewed in Lee’s article expressed her opinion on Mr. Trump, “The way that he talks, the hate speech that he uses, that he brings people towards him — it’s scary to know that so many people who seem like perfectly reasonable people that I know support him.” She expresses how she imagines internment camps for Muslims and calls it “terrifying”.
These articles mentioned cover the issue of hate towards Muslim Americans in America and other western countries. Many of the violent crimes stem from terrorist attacks by Islamic terrorist groups in the western countries. The articles are covered by some who are themselves Muslim Americans and therefore, have a deeper relationship to the topic and others have studied the recent and past trends related to the issue. Although there are many hate crimes committed against minorities in the United States including Jews, blacks, and Hispanics, Muslims and those perceived have experienced much more due to the stigma that surrounds middle easterners and the presidential election of 2016. These articles talk about the relationship between the religion of Islam and Sikhs who are commonly targeted as Muslims merely because of their outward appearance. These articles argue that there is clearly a problem with the hate crimes towards middle easterners and it has risen drastically since the terrorist attacks on 9/11. It has been refueled by the terror attacks in Paris and other parts of Europe as well as in the United States. These attacks by Muslims are rationalized through their religion which encourages them to destroy those who do not believe in the religion. This is not followed by all Muslims however, it has become America’s priority to judge first and ask questions later.
Some of these articles begin with an interviewee describing some of the hate they see of have received themselves to their children or their children asking questions regarding early discrimination. The reader is left with the reality that some of these young children may have to endure racism and hate earlier than they should and within a country that preaches to the land of the free, and the home of the brave. The parents of these children are scared for what their children will face in their lifetime and how it will affect them as they get older. They instantly define the situation as a problem in America and have hard times trying to establish why so many of them are targets of hate although they do not affiliate with the religion of Islam or do not support the violence. No many illustrations are given for these articles in regards to pictures or photos but the overall impression of the article shows that hate crimes against Muslim Americans has increased due to many factors with one of the largest being the election of Donald Trump, “a leader of hate”. The articles are recognizing the negative stigma that follows these group of people and the fear that positivity will not happen soon enough within their lifetime or that of their children.
The language within the articles is straight forward and uses instances of name-calling and stereotypes demonstrate what types of hate crimes are being committed. These crimes can range from name calling all the way to murder and everything in between. There is a broad sense of generalizations used in both articles by Basu and Lee without much of their own observations. They both talk to many Muslim Americans and Sikhs who have endured prejudice and hate crimes and those who have known others who have experienced it themselves. The articles are mainly in second and third person, giving the reader distance between the topic and statements made within the article. If the articles were in first-person, it leaves a sense of bias within the article and therefore contradicts the theme of the article. The articles both briefly distinguish the relationship between the Sikh religion and Islam and how 60% of Americans do not know about the Sikh religion or what it stands for. They discuss how the religion of Islam is misinterpreted at times even for Muslims themselves and this therefore, causes an over-reaction by both Muslims and those who oppose. Basu describes Sikhism in the following way, “Sikhism was founded in the 16th century by Guru Nanak in Punjab, an area that is now divided between India and Pakistan. Nanak rejected the rituals involved with other South Asian religions and stressed the importance of good deeds such as serving others and treating all people equally.” Prabhjot Singh, a Sikh who is a professor in New York who was interviewed for this article said, “”My tradition teaches me to ask what are we doing as a community to have a far more welcoming embrace of people who are different than us.” This draws a slight line between Islam and Sikhism but also shows how people tend to judge before they act by instilling fear and hate without understanding the person fully and what they stand for.
Within these articles, Americans who misinterpret the religion of Islam and classify all middle easterners as Muslim with terroristic ambitions, are the result of the hate crimes that have recently increased. In a later article written by Antlona Blumberg, an Associate Religion Editor for the Huffington Post, she interviews Carl Lentz, an Evangelical pastor who discusses what he sees as the root of racism within America. Lentz discusses that ignorance is the root of racism in America. Lentz says, “Ignorance is a lack of information, which creates insecurity; insecurity creates defensiveness, and defensiveness creates attack…”. Racism is what drives these hate crimes against minorities including Muslims. He goes on to say that racism in America is more of a “white” thing and that Caucasian people find themselves getting defensive over topics such as racism when it is a serious problem. The only “good guys” within the articles are those who have become a victim of a hate crime. The authors non-bias to say that Muslims are good nor bad, however, those who practice in peace to later be victimized because of it is addressed.
The presidential election of 2016 has been a major event that has had a role in the topic of Muslims in America with Donald Trump and his Anti-Muslim campaign being a major influence. In Lee’s article, CNN interviewed 40 Muslim Americans who expressed their feeling on Donald Trump and the impact the election may have on their life here in America. Tarek Wazzan, an interviewee discussed that what he finds most troublesome was not Donald Trump himself but the supporters of his tactics. What proceeds this, however, is the Paris terrorist attack by an Islamic terrorist group who eventually killed 17 people and wounded 22. This event sparked the re-birth of the stigma upon Muslims and since then has been fueled by the 2016 election. The articles try to establish that not all of those who follow the religion of Islam agree with the terroristic efforts of separate Islamic terrorist groups nor do all have the tendency to commit a terroristic act. In Basu’s article, she explains how Sikhism is different from Islam, however, Sikhs find themselves as the victim of a hate crime more so than Muslims in America simply for their appearance. This establishes that not all religions within the middle east or even around the world encourage violence.
These articles are interesting due to the change that is happening so fast within America in relation to race. Younger generations who were too young to really understand the September 11th attacks or the prejudice instilled thus will now understand how religion and race played a major role in hate crimes then and now that they are older. They also show the perspective of Muslims and those perceived who are targets of hate crimes and how they differ from those who bring shame to their religion. I personally believe that the media covered this topic very well from the perspective of the middle easterners who cannot speak for themselves. As a 22-year-old, I have been raised to love people for who they are, regardless of their religion, race, gender, etc. I understand both sides of the argument that these terrorist attacks need to be handled and prevented but to not prejudge someone in the assumption that they believe in the destruction of innocent lives.
Lee, MJ. “Being Muslim American in the Year of Donald Trump.” CNN. Cable News Network, n.d. Web. 12 Dec. 2016.
Basu, Moni. “After 9/11, Turbans Made Sikhs Targets.” CNN. Cable News Network, n.d. Web. 12 Dec. 2016.
“November 2015 Paris Attacks.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 12 Dec. 2016.
Blumberg, Antonla. “Evangelical Pastor Explains What He Sees As The Root Of Racism.” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Dec. 2016.
Lichtblau, Eric. “Hate Crimes Against American Muslims Most Since Post-9/11 Era.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 18 Sept. 2016. Web. 12 Dec. 2016.
“September 11 Attacks.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 12 Dec. 2016.
@splcenter. “Anti-Muslim Incidents Since Sept. 11, 2001.” Southern Poverty Law Center. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Dec. 2016.
Ferner, Matt. “There Were More Anti-Muslim Hate Crimes Last Year Than Any Year Since 2001.” Www.huffingtonpost.com/. Ed. Allssa Scheller. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Dec. 2016.