Dear Friends and Colleagues,
Imagine if because Timothy McVeigh, a white Christian man, blew up the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in 1995, immediately afterwards all white Christian, men were:
Looked at with suspicion,
Cursed and insulted,
Stopped and searched,
Barred from entry,
Kicked off airplanes because people were uncomfortable.
Had their loyalty to the country questioned,
Expected to turn in their friends for being disloyal,
Encouraged to spy on members of their own community,
Assumed to be potential terrorists.
Because a white man blew up a building,
Because a Christian killed 168 people,
and injured more than 600,
Because someone somewhere did something evil, EVERYONE in the WHITE CHRISTIAN community became a suspect and had their civil liberties jeopardized…
Imagine HOW WRONG IT WOULD BE for ALL MEN and ALL CHRISTIANS to be accused and denigrated because someone who looks like them or has the same religion then you can understand.
Representative Ilhan Omar recently spoke against the persecution and discrimination that followed 9/11 and the abuses of the civil liberties of American Muslims who had nothing to do with the attackers of 9/11. You could understand that when she was speaking at the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), she was addressing an organization founded only in 1994 with a membership that more than doubled after 9/11 as Muslims wanted to stand against the terrible events and improve the relationship between people of Islamic belief and other Americans. They also wanted to not have their community blamed and branded for the actions of some people who did something terrible.
You could understand the context when she said, “CAIR was founded … because they recognized that some people did something, and that all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties”.
If a politician or a political party tried to portray those words as evil, or unAmerican, and take them out of context, they would be acting motivated by hate and injustice, and pandering to racism and bigotry. They would be engaging in the most vile, cynical, and divisive politics.
They would be engaging in the reprehensible and deplorable tactics that our founders warned us about, and that we fought a war against fascism in Europe to defeat.
Our President has not made ‘America Great’ with this latest outburst. Taking the words of Representative Ilhan Omar grossly out of context and stitching them together with inflammatory video, he has AGAIN DISGRACED America, and what our founders stood for when they created a nation with freedom of religion and conscience where all are created equal and endowed by their creator with inalienable rights.
If 9/11 taught us anything as a nation, it should have taught us that we all need to come together as Americans, of all varieties, and cherish and support one another, to welcome one another, and to be a role model for the world so that people want to be friends with us, not attack us. That would have been the brave thing to do.
I remember one of the sad realizations after 9/11 for me was that even after these terrorists lived among us, and experienced our culture and country, they still wanted to kill us.
We could have taken that as an opportunity to be even better, to redouble our efforts to show the character of our nation, and to welcome all into our communities. In some ways we did.
We still can. We can show we are a better people and a better nation, and not succumb to fear, anger, and hatred.
Roosevelt warned us, when he said, “The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself.” Because fear leads to poor choices.
When a president can vilify an elected representative who happens to be a woman and a muslim, stitching her words out of context with images of one of America’s most tragic days, because she was speaking up for the civil rights of her community and her constituency, we have given into fear.
Please, that is not the action of a land of the free or a home of the brave.
Let us, We the People, be better, and lets be our best to each other. Let us be better than our own President, and lead us back together as We the People, when he attempts to divide us again.
In God We Trust,
M D Mitchell
Foreign Service Officer (Retired)