Arab & Muslim Americans are our best assets to win the War on Terror

Arab & Muslim Americans are our best assets to win the War on Terror

The anniversary of Sept. 11 will be painful for Arab and Muslim-Americans – as it will be for all Americans.


After the terrorist strikes, Arab and Muslim-Americans became targets for random hate and violence. They became the latest ethnic group to be singled out in an American time of crisis.


In the 1850s, Irish immigrants were persecuted.


During World War I, German immigrants were suspect.


During World War II, Americans of Japanese backgrounds bore the brunt of that conflict.


America“s legacy of nativism – the intense opposition to an internal minority because of its supposed foreign connections – reared its head again.


About 3 million Arab-Americans and 7 million Muslim-Americans live in the United States. Sept. 11 has had a negative effect on many of their lives. Some have paid a hefty price, dealing with discrimination at schools and at the workplace, and even facing senseless and brutal hate crimes that have led to injury and death.

Arab Americans are willing to serve the USA and would love to. They actually have been serving in the military, law enforcement and other places in the federal government. Remember General Abizaid, the former Commander of American troops in Iraq: he is an Arab-American who is fluent in Arabic.

According to government statistics, hate crimes and discriminatory acts against Arab-Americans, Muslim-Americans or those perceived to be of Middle Eastern origins in the United States rose dramatically after Sept. 11.


Some in position of influence in the media or in the religious sector fanned these acts of hatred. On Sept. 13, 2001, columnist Ann Coulter, on National Review Online, said: “We should invade Muslim countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity.”


Televangelist Pat Robertson called Muslims “worse than Nazis.” The Rev. Jerry Falwell labeled the Prophet Muhammad a “terrorist.” The Rev. Franklin Graham called Islam “a very evil and wicked religion.”


Fear spread through the Arab-American and Muslim-American communities.


The USA Patriot Act diminished the rights of immigrants and allowed the government to round up people by the hundreds and keep them, in secret, from their families.


The special registration of Arab and Muslim males in America terrified communities and broke up families, as some fathers were deported on the most minor technicalities.


The government has managed in alienating a large segment of Arab and Muslim Americans since and before 9/11. These communities have been hearing about the Secret Evidence, the Patriot Act, selective interviews and secret deportation of young Arabs and Muslims in thousands, about possible domestic eavesdropping on their calls, snooping into their mail, bank accounts, emails, and library records, etc. Should not these efforts been focused on chasing bin Laden in Afghanistan in stead of targeting the wrong victims and rounding up the usual suspects?


Seven years later, have we won the hearts and minds yet?


Fear still pervades the Muslim-American and Arab-American communities. The horrific acts of terrorism by the Sept. 11 fanatics should not impugn the patriotism of these communities.

In the wake of Sept. 11, thousands of Arab and Muslim-Americans volunteered to serve in the U.S. armed services or in law enforcement. They are protecting us. And they should be thanked, not feared or scapegoated.

Would history reveal the efforts of Arab Americans helping the U.S. win the War on Terror? Would it also reveal that so many of them were wrongfully targeted by the same government, or sometimes, by fellow citizens?

Instead, some see swift militaristic action against those who may resemble our enemies as being the best solution. But attacking innocent civilians around the globe will only inflame Arabs and Muslims and create more enemies.


Three years later, we must not let fear cripple us.