Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Fear: What If 9/11 Happened in 2017?

Within weeks of Pearl Harbor the Secretary of the Navy made news claiming that the Japanese inhabitants in Hawaii had colluded with the Japanese government in the bombing.  Months later this accusation was debunked as completely without merit.  Nevertheless the damage had been done, though how much this false claim served to incite fear of Japanese American citizens and others living in the U.S. is unknown.

I learned of this little-known episode just last week when I attended an exhibit documenting the shameful Japanese imprisonment on display this month at the Muslim Educational Trust.  I hope that we will bring this excellent, however troubling exhibit, to Neveh Shalom researched and organized by Neveh Shalom member Anne Galisky in the near future.

The exhibit opened at MET Monday evening on 9/11, a connection which was not lost on this largely Japanese and Muslim crowd.  It was the Secretary of the Navy's outrageous false accusation that made me think deeper about the aftermath of 9/11 in 2001.  We should all remember how President Bush responded domestically.  He went to great lengths to proclaim that despite the great loss of American life, despite the fact that the perpetrators were all Arabs, a majority from Saudi Arabia, that their "success" was celebrated by Osama bin Laden and his supporters, nevertheless Islam and its adherents must not be seen as the enemy. These terrorists were extremists, who must not be seen as representing the view of 1.3 billion believers. To make the point Bush very publicly visited a mosque in D.C.  Americans must not accuse our American Muslim citizens and residents for the slaughter.

Although 9/11 was followed by some reprehensible anti-Muslim incidents, given the shock of the nearly 3000 deaths and the destruction of the Twin Towers, the number of such incidents was thankfully relatively small.  By contrast there were those who reached out to reassure that community whose fear was palpable..  Some offered to accompany Muslims with their shopping.  Others opened new lines of communications that had not existed previously. The anti-Muslim incidents were condemned and the perpetrators prosecuted.

That led me to think about that Secretary of the Navy in 1941 and how all Japanese were considered suspect of being traitors and needing to be removed from their homes and businesses, men women and children to camps, where they could be under constant military surveillance.  The number who raised objection to the treatment of the Japanese was shamefully insignificant.

My thoughts then turned to our current day, with a president who does not hesitate to cast aspersions on Mexicans, gays, Muslims, African-Americans, protesters without evidence. When the American president finds it difficult to condemn Nazis and Ku Klux Klan without equivocation, I fear what would have happened in the American street in cities across this country had Trump been president in 2001 or if God forbid a similar atrocity were to take place today.  We have every reason to fear that violent response would have been given a nod.

Think about it and be concerned.

No comments:

Post a Comment