The Muslims Next Door: A Reflection On 9-11
It has become exceedingly nauseating watching mainstream media outlets attempt to prove each year how ‘normal’ American Muslims are in what is routinely called a ‘post-9/11 world’; scurrying from one scenic town to the next, a flashy aggregation of red, white and blue – 50 stars and 13 stripes of blinding chauvinism.
A small Muslim child devours a hamburger during a 4th of July bar-b-q event whilst his clean-shaven father, adorned with patriotic trifles, raises an American flag proudly in the midst of an effervescent nationalistic resound of ‘God Bless America’.
A Muslim woman wearing a head-scarf shown driving her daughter to elementary school, thereafter shopping for groceries. A television camera later follows her inside a conventional home, a domineering U.S. flag framed, hanging glamorously in the living room.
A disenchanted voice-over recites blasé activities Muslims in America take part in, what foods they enjoy, the music they listen to – a laundry list of ‘they are just like us’ parallels.
An assemblage of made-for-television specials documenting the lives of Muslims living in the United States of America have all but become routine during the annual commemorative all-day 9/11 media marathon. Programmes running ambrosial missives aimed at proving that the Muslims ‘amongst us’ are run-of-the-mill citizens; the bearded “Islamic” boogeyman, menacing and sadistic, hurriedly replaced by an ornate patriotic centerpiece able to sing ‘America The Beautiful’ on cue – token U.S. flag lapel pin included.
Muslims, guilted into cantillating apologies, have become cheap stock characters much like those found in the serial drama 24. There is a ‘good/normal’ American Muslim archetype and a ‘bad/different’ American Muslim archetype and the media routinely pits one against the other, creating its own abject narrative in order to promote the ideal Muslim, one who fits into society and assimilates graciously.
A decade has passed wherein Muslims, post-9/11, are still continuously being forced to prove themselves; that they are American enough, that they are loyal enough, that they are human enough. An entire people made to pledge allegiance to American jingoism in order to save themselves from being further isolated and stigmatized; as of late the sheer level of paranoia present within American society, this perversity known as Islamophobia, was disclosed – what we knew all along – that American Muslims have been monitored:
From an office on the Brooklyn waterfront in the months after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, New York Police Department officials and a veteran CIA officer built an intelligence-gathering program with an ambitious goal: to map the region’s ethnic communities and dispatch teams of undercover officers to keep tabs on where Muslims shopped, ate and pray.
The United States of America has imprisoned much of the outside world in its pursuit of the farce known as ‘the war on terror’ – in its interventions, conflicts, massacres; the victims of 9/11 being paraded and used by the former and current government as cannon fodder, their blood debased with every drone strike and corpse buried. And yet Muslims living in the United States are forced to choose between supporting a seemingly infinite war of terror or be branded as treacherous, unpatriotic – unwilling to submit to the golden calf of war. In order to seem ‘normal’ Muslims must accept the normalized state of war the United States has plunged itself and the rest of the world into.
The victims of two public wars, those of Afghanistan and Iraq, and at least one silent war, Pakistan, are made to pay the price for an attack which they had no ties to – no association with. Yet these brown victims, these “third world” men, women and children, are denied the very status of victimhood the U.S. so religiously clings to. They are instead “collateral damage” – there is no commemoration, no television special marking each and every massacre committed by US forces and their allies, there is no museum – there is not even a moment spared for grief. The United States of America on the other hand has grieved for 10 long years, cloaking much of the world in funeral attire.
As 9/11 rears its head once more it is time for reflection beyond the scope of proving who is most loyal to his or her nation. Muslims in America do not require CNN, MSNBC et al. to premier annual television programmes defining how ‘normal’ and ‘American’ they are nor must they submit themselves to the golden calf of war; it is time to end blind loyalty to State actions, produced solely out of fear.
Revolutionary philosopher Frantz Fanon once stated that “each generation must discover its mission, fulfill it or betray it, in relative opacity.” Will our generation continue to cling to funeral garb or will we instead break free of these black chains – this cycle of death? We will continue to produce loyalty requirements engraved into the flesh of those occupied and subjugated or will we reach an epiphany, that there is indeed “no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people”?
This 9/11 it is time to reflect on whether our mission will remain one shamelessly composed of battlefields and graves.