Photo by Richard Pryor III (C’20)
By Ena Lee
As a native New Yorker who watched the second tower go down a mile and a half from the site and helped my father get a man covered in dust home as his leg slowly bled and he muttered over and over again, “I’m the only one from my office alive, I saw my boss die, I’m the only one from my office alive,” I found the signs from the Young America’s Foundation particularly gauche. The 9-11 logo with a plane flying into the Twin Towers trivializes the attack – particularly hypocritical of this group that claims they want us to “never forget.” They forgot about taste.
What I found particularly gross was the poster’s promotion of graphic Islamophobia. There is no such thing as an “Islamist.” That is a made-up Western political term. Hate crimes against Muslim Americans have been at an all-time high since this campaign season began. Americans are dying because groups like the Young America’s Foundation willfully ignore a difference between religious extremists (who are political, rather than religious, factions) and people of faith and declare all members of a religion inhuman. You see, Muslim Americans are just as American as Christian Americans. If they’re going to claim to represent Young America, they better represent young American Muslims as well, especially since it’s Muslims who suffer the most from religious extremism, not the United States of America.
On 9-11, I mourn the hundreds of thousands of civilians who have been killed because we can “never forget” a group of extremists attacked a couple thousand of Americans. I worry on 9-11 because I know my fellow countrymen are going to be attacked because of their faith, their dress, and the color of their skin. I’m always afraid it’s going to be somebody I know in the news next time, somebody I went to high school with or talked religion with – because I know girls who wear the hijab who have been spat on as they walked through Times Square. I know guys who have had slurs screamed at them while taking the subway home, and women who have been asked why they bombed the Twin Towers as they served lunch in a public school cafeteria. This violence isn’t depersonalized; it happens to people we know and we perpetuate it by our silence.