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When the chickens come home to roost…

Editor’s Note: Justin’s column originally appeared in the Oct. 12, 2001, edition of The Shield. We are posting it here as part of our observance of the 15th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. To read other Shield articles that reported or commented on the 9/11 tragedy, please see the links at the end of this article or click on the MAC Archive tab under News.

The time has come for Americans to address the taboos surrounding terrorism

justin-mitchell-mug-shotSept. 11: another day that will forever live in infamy.

Every time I turn on the television I see something about the World Trade Center tragedy, and it’s depressing. Ignorant talk of war, retaliation, hatred and terrorism is ubiquitous these days. Honestly, I didn’t want to write about Sept. 11 incident, but since I’ve had to listen to other people make detestable comments about it, I feel almost obligated to voice my opinion and hopefully shed light on certain issues and concerns that the media has failed to address.

Surprisingly, very few people have given any serious thought to what could have provoked the WTC attack. Okay, so there aren’t many things that would warrant such an atrocity, but what would make people so angry that they would deliberately kill thousands of American civilians? Did our government do something wrong? The answer is yes. We’ve already established that the terrorists were Arabs, and they obviously have bones to pick with the U.S. Contrary to the opinion of George W. Bush, America is not hated because it is a champion of freedom and liberty. As one individual put it, “[Arabs] love us for who we are and hate us for what we do.”

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Like it or not, there is a long list of legitimate Arab grievances against our country (think economic sanctions in Iran, military occupation of Islamic holy lands, bombing of civilians in Liberia, etc.), the most flagrant of which is America’s unconditional support of Israel, a country we helped to establish. See, our government, along with other western powers, aided Jewish Zionists in procuring Palestinian land. As a result, many Palestinians were driven away from their homes and forced into poverty. We continue to finance the killings of Palestinian “rebels,” who simply want their land, back by donating guns, bombs and tanks to the Israeli armed forces. As you may imagine, this hasn’t gone over too well with the Arab world.

In the eyes of the Middle Eastern extremists, we all have Arab blood on our hands, and the WTC tragedy is only a sign that out chickens have come home to roost. Furthermore, the media has portrayed these terrorists as sadistic lunatics when in fact they are people willing to die for a cause that they sincerely believe in. The WTC terrorists were no more deranged than Vietcong suicide bombers or Buddhists monks who immolated themselves during the Vietnam war. This is nothing new nor is it particular to any ethnic group.

I’ve also heard of many observers refer to the WTC attack as an example of “Islamic terrorism” and the actions of “Muslim fundamentalists.” These phrases show a severe lack of knowledge with regard to orthodox Islam. They imply that there is something inherently evil or violent about Islam, which is like Christianity and Judaism is an Abrahamic monotheistic faith. The word “Islam,” which in a religious context means submission to the will of God, is derived from an Arabic word for peace. An Islamic fundamentalist is someone who doesn’t drink, smoke or gamble and strictly follows the path of Prophet Muhammad, not an individual who wants to blow up buildings. When Timothy McVeigh committed the Oklahoma City bombing, no one called it “Christian terrorism” or referred to him as a “Christian fundamentalist” because that terminology would be offensive and inaccurate. The same rule applies to Islam and Muslims.

Some people seem to think that this tragedy will unite us for war and show us that we are truly “one nation under God.” Proponents of this silly notion believe that an all out war on terrorism will bring us together, but they conveniently fail to mention that more innocent people will die. And their idea that we are all part of one America regardless of race, creed or ethnicity loses validity simply because many Arab Americans won’t even go outside wearing a kufi or hijab out of fear that some redneck will think that they are terrorists. If we are all one America, why have Muslim Americans and people who simply appear to be of Middle Eastern origin been attacked across the country as a result of this incident? If we are all one America, why are pilots refusing to fly with people who have Islamic surnames and dark complexions? Is that what America is about?

Now is the time for honest dialogue, not hate. Either we confront the underlying issues and try to do right domestically and around the world, or we continue to look like hypocrites who finally got a taste of their own medicine.

For more 9/11 stories from the MacJournalism archive, please click the links below:

Becca Eden, “The day America stood still,” The Shield (Sept. 14, 2001).

Mitchell Nolen, “Give peace a chance,” The Shield (Oct. 12, 2001).

Emily Panzer, “Student caught in New York during terrorist attack,” The Shield, (Oct. 12. 2001).

Jena Randall, “A candle in the wind.” The 2002 Knight.

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When the chickens come home to roost…