Thursday, September 11, 2008

7 Year Sadness

Today is September 11; a day we all know will never pass during our generation without a somber, solemn, immensely sad remembrance/commemoration/reflection on that tragic day in 2001. All day I have been listening to the radio reports of remembrance happening at ground zero, in the footprint, with the families, the various legislators and those that were reading the list of the 2900+ names of victims out loud. I listened to family members on the air with Amy Goodman, talking about how they didn't want war or violence in their names, in their loved ones' names. Democracy Now! was also interviewing Dave Isay, creator of Story Corps. He was asked by the Lower Manhattan Rebuilding Corporation to set up a Story Corps booth at the WTC site, and the Sept 11 Initiative, a mission to get at least one interview from family members of each of the victims killed during the attacks of September 11, was born.

Tonight, I am watching PBS which is airing "New York Remembers 9/11" a collection of short segments with surviving victims, perished victims' families and individuals related to the Towers as legislators, administrators, emergency workers, etc. I am watching a part of the segment which is all about health in lower Manhattan since the attacks for those who were emergency medical responders, undocumented immigrants who were hired by private contractors with federal money to clean the buildings and all the people who spent time around ground zero in the months after the attacks. It makes me incredibly sad and tearful to hear these stories, see these pictures, relive these traumas. But as sad as it makes me feel, it is so right to remember.

We must remember, but not in the pro-vengeance way some who tout the "we will never forget" motto do. We, who are alive and able to, must remember the people who were lost, the lives that were tragically disrupted, the heroism shown that day and since, and the fact that violence and hate are what ended these lives. We should not encourage and sponsor more violence or hate in their names- it will never bring them back. We must honor their memories by working to spread understanding and cross cultural communication, working to stop violence and hate, terrorist, street, state-sponsored, domestic, sexual or otherwise. What better way could we honor the victims than to create a more peaceful, loving world that they would be proud of?

As happens each year around the anniversary, stock is taken of how safe the country is or isn't in the years since, the general public mood towards the so-called "war on terror," osama bin laden's continued freedom/evasion of capture, and the annual increase in profiling of and racism/discrimination/violence towards American Muslims, Arab Americans, Sikh Americans and South Asian Americans. This year is no different, except that discrimination and racism towards American Muslims and those perceived to be Muslim is getting even more accepted and in fact, being codified into federal law.
This opinion piece from the Hartford Courant is a good article about this strengthening, inherently un-American practice. It's called "Will America Tolerate Anti-Muslim Discrimination?"
Check it out. I'd love to hear some feedback. Some more articles reflecting the chilling of opportunity, access to resources and blatant racism and discrimination that Muslims are facing all over America, throughout American life, follow as well. I hope to blog more about this when I have some time to do the topic, along with the growing body of work both reporting and analyzing this phenomenon, justice.

The first one is a recent article by Omad Safi from Beliefnet about Senator Barack Obama's Muslim Outreach Advisor/Coordinator getting sacked less than a week after being hired due to inferred suspicions about his completely innocent and necessary ties to the American Muslim community. It's called "Obama and the Kevin Bacon Game of Persecuting Muslims" from the Progressive Revival blog on Beliefnet.

There was once a little school called the Khalil Gibran International Academy that planned to open as the first dual language (bilingual) Arabic/English charter school in New York city that was planned with great hope and some fanfare, only to get sidelined and virtually destroyed by racist right wing attack dogs who claimed it would be a bastion of Islamist thought and would indoctrinate children to become Islamist sympathizing terrorists. Does this story ring a bell or sound familiar? The school's wonderful, perfectly suited headmaster, Debbie Almontaser, was removed from the school because of this racist smear attack campaign against her led by the absolute shithead Daniel Pipes.
(Don't know who he is? Find out. He might next choose to profile and smear you, whomever you are, just because you are reading this blog, written by an American Muslim. According to Pipes, being an American Muslim by definition makes you a bad American and an Islamist sympathizer. Pipes thinks that by speaking to, hearing from, reading words written, spoken or thought of by a Muslim makes YOU a sympathizer too. What a fucking idiot. But yeah- find out who he is, if you don't know. He also believes that regular, moderate, everyday Muslims and the people that know and love them are ""providing the political cover for jihad." )
The school was completely changed and not allowed to adhere to its originally Dept of Education approved mission of immersion bilingual Arabic education that also focused on Arabic culture and history. It has been moved from a central, public transportation accessible area in Brooklyn in a largely Arab American community to a far flung neighborhood, with little allowed involvement of concerned parents.
Just some updated context to bring you up to speed of what has happened since the below NY Times articles were written.
Some articles about this topic:
"Head of City's Arabic School Steps Down Under Pressure"
"Critics Cost Muslim Educator Her Dream School"

Hope everyone was able to remember and observe this seventh September 11 anniversary with some clarity and quiet, and leaves you with some peace.

Here is the link to today's Democracy Now! show that I mentioned before. It is really a wonderful reflection of the full circle of life since the attacks.

May God grant all those affected by the attacks peace and solace and bring some sanity back to our foreign policy.


Passionista said...

Our lives are so different after 9/11. I can't even remember what it was like. I agree that we should never forget. I admittedly never heard those words as pro-vengeance, but rather think its an honest sentiment for all Americans.

KimyaShafinaaz said...

hi, salaam

i really enjoyed reading this, a peek into the world 'out there' from an insider/outsider?

heres wishing peace and no boundaries to all the people of the world

Anonymous said...


Thought you might be interested in this article I wrote for the NYC-based Indypendent, about the Khalil Gibran International Academy. Check it out, and if you like it, link to it!