Today is September 12.
It’ll be another 360-or-so days till everyone will remember to tell everyone else not to forget. Some of us are still remembering today. We’ll remember tomorrow. And, the next. And, the next. And, won’t need the reminder never to forget when the calendar flips to September of 2020.
At which point, when another year has worn on, you’ll hear about how how America, in the wake of the terror attacks, put all of its differences aside and unified. And, how it needs to do it once again.
I call bullshit on this sentiment. it wasn’t talked bout then and pisses me off that it continues to be treated with kid gloves and rose colored glasses now … my incomplete thoughts are here
First, the call for “unity” lasts all of one day. It’s a social media meme. A hollow inspirational message that no one saying or posting it actually intends on keeping.
Today, the masses returned back to their routine that call for unity is already forgotten. I’m not even sure it lasted through the entirety of the day yesterday, to be honest.
At this point, New York, Washington DC, and to a lesser degree Pennsylvania, went from being a centerpiece of the “American Identity” as the country pays tribute to the fallen from the September 11th attacks back to being “east coast elites.”
This is not an occurrence unique to this year. Or last. Or even the year before that. It is not unique to how the current Trumpublican Administration has sought to position it’s fans to that of the rest of the electorate.
It’s an old trope rooted in regional perceptions that date back to the Colonial era. The concept relies on an us-versus-them dichotomy that divides people who should otherwise believe they have a commonality. Back then it was the the urbanized industry of the north versus the rural farming of the south. A version of it was used as a rallying cry during the division of the Civil War. An adaption of it became a centerpiece of the “Southern Strategy” conservatives employed during the 1960s Civil Rights Movement that helped establish Nixon’s Republican Presidency. It was employed in multiple refinements during the Reagan Republican Presidency, as part of Gingrich’s Congressional Republican leadership era, by the Tea Party during it’s Republican insurgency and, it continues to be leveraged today by in a Trumpian manner.
The perception this creates is that there are “Real Americans” and then everyone else. The characature of “Rea Americans” is they wear the flag, cary guns, smoke tobacco, drink watered down beer and brown liquor, eat like gluttonous carnivores and live in small towns. Under the surface of that though is a homogenous patriarchal society of white protestants that distrust anyone not like them. No one event is going to change the perception. Especially not an event that happens TO people who are predominantly the anthesis of them.
Don’t believe me?
There was never really a unity with the people of the “Metropolitan Tri-State” (an interesting misnomer that includes New York City Metro area as it abuts New Jersey as well as Connecticut and Pennsylvania) and the “DMV (the District of Columbia’s metro area that include Maryland and Virginia) but rather on the Twin Towers / World Trade Center and the Pentagon. It was the buildings and what those structures represented that was important.
Take, for example, the perceived urgency of clearing the Pit, fashioning the many Memorials out of the wreckage, constructing the Freedom Tower and repairing the Pentagon. Bi-partisan support was often made available for funding the projects and clearing out regulatory hurdles at every level of government. Donations of all types poured in. And, the competitions were heralded.
Meanwhile, the rest of the rest of the projects pertaining to bringing Lower Manhattan and DC languished. Improvements to infrastructure and security that should have been priorities had their funds raided by politicians from state’s that weren’t affected in order to “protect” small town’s assets that no international terrorist or foreign adversary would ever find on a map anyhow. Projects that were designed to help people who’s homes and businesses were displaced languished without funding and support and many are still unfinished. And, what’s worse, the medical and psychological support for those who lived and worked in the affected areas has been a political football where it’s taken shaming politicians to even get incremental coverage to help these people.
But, to the rest of America, we got our Freedom Tower. We got our Memorial Reflecting Pools. We got a new wall for the Pentagon. And, thus, we were unified, had strength, showed resilience … despite the fact that hundreds of thousands of people who were directly affected by the attacks are still suffering today and their physical, emotional and financial pain continues to go unnoticed through most of the rest of the US even on September 11th itself.
Secondly, the unity there was between people’s was mostly reserved for those who fit the above described “American” mold.
Balbir Singh Sodhi from Mesa, Arizona was murdered in a hate crime only days after the September 11th attack. He was a Sikh-American citizen and killed because an ignorant bigot decided because he wore a headdress he was a terrorist.
It didn’t stop there either. Here’s a short list of others who didn’t feel the unity post-September 11th. Rather they were assaulted, their homes and places of worship vandalized, and in some cases killed because they were Sikh: Nov. 18, 2001 — Palermo, Gurdwara Gobind Sadan; Dec. 12, 2001 Los Angeles, Surinder Singh Sidhi; Aug. 6, 2002, Daly City, Sukhpal Singh; May 20, 2003, Phoenix; Aug. 5, 2003, Queens; Sept. 25, 2003, Tempe, Sukhvir Singh; March 13, 2004, Fresno, Gurdwara Sahib; July 11, 2004 New York, Rajinder Singh Khalsa and Gurcharan Singh; May 24, 2007 Queens; May 30, 2007, Joliet, Kuldip Singh Nag; Jan. 14, 2008, New Hyde Park, NY Baljeet Singh; Feb. 28, 2008 Bryan; June 5, 2008 Queens; June 5, 2008 Albuquerque; Aug. 4, 2008 Phoenix, Inderjit Singh Jassal; Oct. 29, 2008 Carteret, NJ, Ajit Singh Chima; Jan. 30, 2009, Queens, Jasmir Singh; Nov. 29, 2010, Sacramento, Harbhajan Singh; March 6, 2011, Elk Grove; May 30, 2011, New York, Jiwan Singh; Feb. 6, 2012, Sterling Heights; Aug. 5, 2012, Oak Creek; May 5, 2013 — Fresno, Piara Singh; July 29, 2013, Riverside; Sept. 22, 2013, New York, Prabhot Singh; July 30, 2014 Queens, Sandeep Singh; Sept. 8, 2015, Darien, Inderjit Singh Mukker; Dec. 5, 2015 Buena Park; Dec. 9, 2015, New York, NY Darshan Singh; Dec. 26, 2015, Fresno, Amrik Singh Bal; Jan. 1, 2016, Fresno, Singh Gill; Aug. 21, 2016, Washington D.C., Mehtab Singh Bakhshi; Sept. 25, 2016, Richmond, CA Maan Singh Khalsa; March. 3, 2017, Kent, WA, Deep Rai; March 26, 2017; April 16, 2017 York, NY, Harkirat Singh; Sept. 4, 2017, Los Angeles; Jan. 28, 2018, Moline, Gurjeet Singh; July 31, 2018, Keyes, CA Surjit Malhi; Aug. 6, 2018, Manteca, Sahib Singh Natt; Aug. 16, 2018, East Orange, NJ Terlock Singh; July 25, 2019, Modesto, Amarjit Singh; Aug. 25, 2019 Tracy, CA Parmjit Singh.
It took until 2015 for the FBI to begin specifically tracking Sikh related hate crimes despite calls by local law enforcement, from within the community, and by advocacy groups who’s research demonstrating the uptick in media coverage, law enforcement reporting, etc. Even now, it’s not as well documented as it should be and American citizens continue to be attacked and killed by their fellow Americans defying what it means to be unified in Citizenship, solely because some Americans are Sikhs and their attackers are completely dumbfuck stupid and don’t understand Sikhs are not Muslims.
Arab-American is a catch-all term that covers a wide range of peoples who self-identify as being of Arab descent. And, likely most of them do not feel the so-called unity being touted either. Simply because they identify as Arab, or worse, some bigot assumed because they have a particular look they might be Arab, they were targeted for harassment and assault.
What does being Arab mean exactly? It’s a group of people who’s linguistic and ethnic heritage is generally represented by the region spanning from North Africa on the Atlantic Ocean through the Red Sea and Persian Gulf region and into West Asia along the Indian Ocean. The modern “Arab League” represents 22 nations that cover most of the ‘classical’ Arab World. While much of the Arab League is associated with Muslim, it also includes a substancial Christian Arab population representing several denominations. The region also include ethno-religious groups including Yezidis, Yarsan, Shabaks, the Druzes, and Mandaeans as well as a secular Arabs. American citizens who’s heritage descends from one of these groups continue to be profiled and targeted for hate by their fellow Americans.
There’s almost no formal tracking on hate crimes against the sub-groups within the Arab Culture. In many cases it is likely because these sub-groups represent such small minority populations of American Citizens and most in law enforcement don’t have the training or experience in documenting it correctly. However, crimes against Arab Americans as a group that includes all the denominations of Islam too are tracked and by every measure those spiked significantly. Mostly, because anyone that appears even remotely Arab was treated as if they were Muslim by dumbfuck bigots.
Not that it should matter because Muslim-Americans are still Americans and they never had the opportunity to feel Unity either. Instead, because Al Queda is a radicalized militant sect of Sunni Islam a some uneducated Americans assume all Muslims must be radicalized militant Sunnis and thus terrorists.
Attacks on Muslim-Americans of all Muslim sects and beliefs increased substantially post-911. In the immediate aftermath of the attacks in just the forth quarter of 2001 there were more than 1,000 reported incidents of potential hate crimes against Muslim-Americans according to a study put together documenting incidents by the Journal of Applied Psychology.
As you can imagine, trying to list all the victims would take pages at this point, as you can see by lists on Wikipedia or searching the FBI database.
It was suggested at the time by politicians, sometimes influenced by prominent talking heads, that for the sake of national security Muslims should be rounded up and placed in internment camps. That sentiment has lead to other, sometimes more “subtle” versions of civil rights violations by the government against American Citizens simply because they happen to be Muslim.
Lawsuits against religious profiling of Muslims continue to work their way through the courts. The TSA and other parts of Homeland Security, police departments like the NYPD, and even some corporate organizations that provide list building have been sued by groups like the ACLU, CAIR and the Muslim Advocates. Combinations of investigative reporting, document leaking, advocacy research work and more have provided evidence that Muslims Americans are heavy targeted by law enforcement.
Pretty much anyone of a certain darker complexion could be targeted as being a terrorist and thus is stripped of their American identity despite their citizenship and excluded from this so-called feeling of unity. There was an example of a Greek diner employee in New Jersey who’s olive complexion and heavy accent was mistaken by a dumbfuck bigot as being a terrorist and beaten up. In another example in New York a woman of southern-Italian descent was assaulted and slandered as being a terrorist because of what one might assume was her darker, olivish skin. There are a few examples from out west where Iberian-Americans and Hispanics were accosted because they looked “foreign” and accused of being “terrorists.” As if the normal bigotry and hatred they normally face for their ethnicities wasn’t enough. And, so on. Pretty much if you’re brown, or at least not the whitest of white, your Americaness could be questioned.
However, it doesn’t just stop there.
Remember when several US allies refused to back some of the proposed military actions by the Bust Administration? The French specifically were vocal opponents of participating in the fraudulent search for the so-called Weapons of Mass Destruction and far reaching attempt at a War on Terror. For this transgression all things French were chastised. Some of it was infantile, such as renaming French Fries (of which the American version didn’t even really originate from France in the first place) to Freedom Fries and vandalizing roadsigns along the US-Canadian boarder to remove references to Kilometers or black out French works including city names. Some of it was more drastic, such as people, like myself with French names being harassed by being told to go back to France and called a frog and a chatte (Anglicized, of course, why even get the slur right). I was constantly reminded how the US “bailed the French out of WWII.” And, despite being multigenerational US Citizen on my French-Canadian side and having a number of my family members participating in wars from the Second World War to Vietnam as American citizens I was told I didn’t support the troops because a country I have no political affiliation to decided to interpret the Intelligence Community’s information differently than the Bush Administration did. Yeah, I can tell you I personally didn’t feel the unity with my fellow “Americans” during those moments. And, I’m sure I wasn’t the only one.
Third, even if you weren’t being actively excluded from the perception of a Unified America because of where you lived, or what you looked like, etc, there’s a chance you still felt left out or were left out intentionally. That’s because there are still a lot of people who were treated as second-class citizens before the terror attack and that treatment didn’t end simply because some other people felt a temporary bond of American Identity.
It’s not like all of a sudden the LGBQ community no longer were confronted by homophobia and treated as equal citizen. No, rather in the years following a number of enacted legislation, created regulations and otherwise tried to restrict the civil liberties of LGBQ Americans, while of the Trans community couldn’t even come out of the closet still due to even more extreme repression.
It’s not like all of a sudden African-Americans were no longer facing institutional racism, being illegally profiled by law enforcement and facing ongoing discrimination in housing, employment and more. Rather, there were a number of lawsuits in the ensuing years specifically demonstrating that in some cases the siutat