America's Newest "Witch-Hunt"

On Tuesday, September 11, 2001, I sat, along with most of the civilized world, staring at my television in horror and shocked disbelief at the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on New York City's World Trade Center and The Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia. On Wednesday I learned that a blood bank would have a mobile unit set up at our local shopping center the next day, and made plans to go donate. On Thursday, I got caught up at work early and left at 3:30, knowing the lines would probably be long. I was right, because I didn't get finished up there until after 7 PM.
I was lucky. No one attempted to run me off the road on my way there.

The next day, I got in my car and went to work, and the kids boarded their bus for school.
We were lucky. No one shot at me that day as I did my job, and no one called in a death threat to my daughters' schools.

Sunday afternoon, I needed a few things from our local Wal-Mart, and took the girls along with me.
We were lucky. Not one person attacked us while we did our shopping.

Around the country, not all my fellow Americans were so lucky. A Pakistani grocer was murdered in Dallas, Texas. A Sikh gas-station attendant in Mesa, Arizona, was gunned down. His killer then fired shots at a Lebanese-American clerk at a second gas station, then into the home of a family of Afghani descent. A man in Huntington, New York, tried to run over a Pakistani woman in a mall parking lot. A firebomb damaged an Arab-American community center in Chicago, Illinois.

The list goes on and on. Our newest American citizens, guilty of nothing more than being a little different in appearance, are the victims of America's newest witch-hunt.

In a time when we should be all working together and standing tall as Americans, there are a few so caught up in anger and hatred that they forget that, unless they are pure-blooded Native American Indians, their own forefathers came here from somewhere else. I'm glad this madness doesn't take hold against the English every Independence Day, or I might never have survived my first 4th of July. We'll never forget the atrocities of Nazi Germany in WWII, but thank goodness no one holds their German blood, from their biological mother's side, against our daughters.

Perhaps it's time for the Pagan community to reach out to our fellow Americans and offer help. Tonight, many loyal American citizens of East Indian or Middle-Eastern descent are locked in their homes, fearful of every noise outside, wondering if someone is going to burn them out or fire bullets through their front door. Tomorrow, Muslim or Sikh children may go hungry because their parents are afraid to leave home to shop for food.

While we remember our dead at the World Trade Center and The Pentagon, let's not forget our living in our own neighborhoods. Tomorrow, what if we all went to visit our olive-skinned neighbors, and offered to pick up groceries or mail, or run other errands? What if we told our children to step in for their Islamic classmates if they see them being bullied at school?

What if someone had done the same for us, when granny-doctors were being burned at the stake in Europe?

Nahid Awad, executive director of the Council on American Islamic Relations, said it best: "We all came on different ships, but we are all in the same boat."

Oakdancer - 9/17/01

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