Monday, September 17, 2001 Volume 67, Issue 18


Americans just need a scapegoat

Suboohi Hasan
Guest columnist

I have already lost my belief in ideas of "tolerance and compassion" after the numerous hate crimes that have been committed. I have gone
through 10 times more depression and fear as the "normal" American since, being Muslim, my fear that the terrorists might strike any minute
is not my only concern. I also carry the fear that anyone walking around might take it in his or her head to avenge what happened on
Tuesday by beating me up.

Please. Don't make me lose my last hope in Americans by not even reporting the atrocity the American media has just committed: to incite
people to anger against Arabs if no one else.

You know, I don't blame the people who commit hate crimes as much as I do the media for continuously juxtaposing pictures of the World
Trade Center twin towers falling and Palestinians celebrating. If those pictures didn't incense people to do what they just did, harassing and
beating Arabs -- or anyone seemingly Middle Eastern -- then I don't know what else did.

And even if these pictures turn out to be misrepresenting the truth (there's a rumor that the footage is from 1991 during the Persian Gulf
conflict), I must say one thing: Are we Americans surprised that there is so much hate around the world, not for individual American citizens,
but for American foreign policies?

These policies hurt not just the Middle East but countries in Latin America, South America, China and Asia. Please don't take this to mean
that I justify what happened in New York.

This is another ordeal that I am facing. If I utter anything (particularly now) against American policies, I am looked at as un-American. Isn't the
right to one's opinion an American right? Just because I look and am Muslim, does it mean that my critique of America is being un-American?

Furthermore, my parents immigrated to America because they, like everyone else, got suckered into the belief that they could be safe here. In
Pakistan, every time we took a step out of the house, we instantly knew it might be our last step: Someone might kidnap us or shoot us in
drive-by firings, which were and are very common.

Do you think for one second that this hard-won sense of safety is what Muslim Americans want to jeopardize? They left their homes, their
wealth, the only way of life they knew and risked it all to come here.

They found safety for a while, except for times like the Oklahoma City bombing and now, when every terrorist act is instantly thought to be by
one of those "crazy Arabs who in the name of jihad" like to kill.

Does any so-called "true" American even know the meaning of jihad? It is not, as the media likes us to believe, "Holy War."

To even go to jihad, a Muslim has to first satisfy 11 requirements of why he is fighting. Then the group has to go to a Mufti (scholar) and
have them approve going to jihad. If any one reason is wrong, the whole request is denied.

Did any American know this? Does anyone even want to know? Or do people just like to believe exactly what they see in the media and not
even question the reasons beneath?

I, like my parents, was suckered into the belief that America is for all; that there are opportunities for all; that this is a melting pot; that there is

Yes, it is a land of opportunity -- but at what cost? The loss of my faith, my beliefs, my dignity? The loss of my values and my religion, which
have always guided and consoled me in hard times, such as today?

Do people really believe that Islam condones violence? Especially when even the meaning of Islam says that when you submit to God, you
do not hurt others? How many more times do I have to relive the unjust accusations and hate crimes, which have become a trend since the
Oklahoma City bombing?

When, if ever, will people learn not to transfer one person's crimes onto the whole group? Can I even hope for that? Or do I need to face the
hard reality taught by this event: that people need a scapegoat, and at this time in history, Muslims have become that -- just what the Jews
became for the Nazis?

Doesn't anyone realize that during the Cold War, when our enemy was the Soviet Union, the USSR didn't even have the kind of power we
made them out to have? After the Cold War, Americans needed another evil to feel safe and powerful, and that evil is now the Middle East.

When will this end? Who will be next? How do I fight? Can I fight? Will anyone help me, us? If they can't relate to me as a Muslim, can
people relate to me as a human? Allah, please don't let my belief in humanity die.

Hasan, a senior English major,
can be reached via

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