Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Alienated American

And there was me — a non-Muslim, who has publicly criticized certain Islamic practices — flaccidly battling for Muslims worldwide. It got to the point that I was telling people I didn’t even know that their opinions were making my life downright “unlivable.”

It reminds me of how I used to experience so many mixed emotions when I’d see women in full burqa in Brooklyn: alarm at the spectacle (no matter how many times I’d seen it), followed by a certain feminist irk, and finally discomfiture at our cultural kinship. And then it would all turn into one strong emotion — protective rage — when I’d see a group of teenagers laughing and pointing at them.



"Every day, I lose America and America loses me, more and more. But I should still be in my honeymoon phase, since I’m actually just a 9-year-old American. And that’s my other association with autumn 2001. As luck would have it, my citizenship papers finally went through not long after the towers fell. That November, I was in a Brooklyn federal courtroom singing, along with a room full of immigrants, the national anthem that I hadn’t sung since K through 12.

I remember on that day, 9/11 leaving the foreground of my mind for the first time. I remember looking around that room and feeling, in spite of myself, a sense of optimism about the future. I remember feeling a part of something. I remember feeling thrilled at the official introduction of the hyphen that would from now on gracefully declare and demarcate my two worlds: Middle-Eastern-American. The same hyphen that today feels like a dagger that coarsely divides had once, not too long ago at all, been a symbol of a most hallowed bond."
POROCHISTA KHAKPOUR in The New York Times

Yes, Republicans keep telling the Middle Eastern Americans they are not Americans. Keep telling Muslim Americans that building a mosque 2 blocks from the old World Trade Center is a victory for terrorism. You just might convince them that they are the enemy.

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