In Times of Unity: Many Excluded

In the wake of September 11, 2001 President Bush called for the country to unite in the fight against terrorism. He asked each citizen to stand up against those who try to do harm to our country. And unite we did. I can remember the patriotic bumper stickers; more people hung flags on their houses than ever. Overall, the atmosphere in the country was that of a cohesive unit bond together in fighting terrorism. The majority of the country felt more patriotic than ever, but another group of Americans were being excluded from this call for increased nationalism.

Americans of the Muslim faith were rejected from taking part of this patriotism; at times they were treated as lesser citizens solely on the basis of religion. Some Muslims suffered an added blow in the wake of 9/11, “in addition to coping with terror, many Muslims say they had to deal with the pain of being shunned by their fellow Americans.

This video clips shows some extreme views held by Americans toward Muslims. The opinions shown in this video are far outside the thoughts of mainstream America and do not represent the country as a whole; but many Americans do not feel that Muslims should not be granted the same rights as citizens of other religions. Sadly, this was not the first time that in the name of connecting as a nation, people have been compelled to exclude certain groups as well.

In 1776, Thomas Paine called on the people of the United States colonies to rise up against the British crown. Much in the same way we were summoned to close ranks and band together in the fight against terrorism in the wake of 9/11. But when Paine cried out to the colonies to fight the tyranny of the British King, did he really call on all citizens? Or does he mean that white, land owning, protestant men should rise up to battle the British oppression? This question is clearly answered in the above picture of the Founding Fathers; each member belongs to one social faction, that of the upper class, white, Christian Man. So the answer is clear, both times when people answered the call to unity, large sectors of the country were cast as outsiders.

The focus of discrimination changed from 1776 to 2001, however the disenfranchisement of certain groups remained the same. Did President Bush really mean that Muslims were also supposed join in the call to Patriotism? I think not. Why did we feel the need to create outsiders in order to develop a more cohesive country? And, can exclusion of certain groups ever be justified in the name of unification? Again, I think not.

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7 Responses to In Times of Unity: Many Excluded

  1. kbreit4 says:

    I think the exclusion of Muslim’s in America after the disaster of 9/11 wasn’t the intent of President Bush when he called for American’s to Unite; there are many Muslim’s who are in fact Americans and shouldn’t have been excluded. I believe that it is partially the ignorance and close-mindness of American’s along with fear that brought about the divide. Many Americans, probably those less aware of how many Muslim’s live in the United States, and those less open to diversity used their fear to spread the idea that excluding EVERYONE Muslim was valid because a few Muslim’s were responsible for the attack.
    I don’t think this should ever or can ever be justified.

  2. arlaurin says:

    Another obviously instance of this is the relocation of Japanese-Americans in the wake of Pearl Harbor. This happens all the time and although I cannot think of one off the top of my head, I bet it happens just as much in other countries. Honestly, I don’t blame the US for the WWII one BECAUSE we did not know any better. Obviously it was cruel and unnecessary, but we never had that situation before. But, we should have learned from that. And that’s were the severity of how awful it was for the Muslims in this situation comes in. We know better.

  3. bradenburgess says:

    The blogger writes, “Americans of the Muslim faith were rejected from taking part of this patriotism; at times they were treated as lesser citizens solely on the basis of religion “. I disagree with this. I think the post exaggerates, to an extent, the “Islamophobia” that was present after the 9/11 attacks. Certainly some Americans felt this way, but Muslims were never prohibited from being patriotic.

    I do agree with the fact that our nation has consistently made clear who “the others” were. Since Paine, political actors have been careful about choosing which groups are in, and which groups are out. This is a definite trend in our democracy. It seems as if the polity can only be defined, if we recognize those who do not belong in it.

  4. nmajie says:

    I definitely don’t agree that President Bush wanted to exclude Muslim Americans from the community; why wouldn’t Muslims join in the call to patriotism? They were just as affected by the disaster of 9/11 as any other American citizen. An American’s religion is not, in any way, telling of their citizenship. Muslims should not be considered “outsiders” just because of their religion.

    Moreover, there is a new show on TLC that I just came across called “All-American Muslims,” and it looks at the lives of five Muslim American families living in Dearborn, Michigan, which is largest community of Muslims in the United States and home to the largest Mosque in the United States. Here is a recent interview with some of the members of the show after being asked “Do you believe you can be a good American?”: http://www.andersoncooper.com/2011/11/16/do-you-believe-you-can-be-a-good-american/

    What is interesting about this interview is that the audience member, a fellow American, does not believe in the coexistence of being American and being Muslim. In a sense, she is advocating for exclusion because, in her opinion, these two terms cannot be mutually exclusive. The members of the show, however, portray their reasons as to why they are both good Americans and good Muslims. In this sense, I think that it is imperative to NOT classify American Muslims as a group of people excluded from the general populace; Islam should not be a deciding factor on standing in society or patriotism. Muslim Americans are American citizens, so why shouldn’t they be treated like everyone else?

  5. Robert Tepper says:

    I do not believe that former President Bush wished to exclude Muslim Americans from uniting with the rest of the country in the fight against terrorism. Rather, I believe the exclusion of Muslim Americans that you are referring to is a natural consequence — any time a group of people band together in a common fight, some people get excluded, for whatever reason. Most of the time, I think that those involved in any sort of movement feel the need to exclude certain people because it makes them feel stronger and better. Unfortunately, Muslim Americans were the subject of hate after the terrorist attacks and many did not feel that they belonged in the patriotic movement sweeping the country at the time. In a way, it relates to Shklar’s idea that citizenship is a special thing because not everyone has it. Those becoming more patriotic after 9/11 also felt that they were special because they were a part of something, and maybe if everyone took part, it wouldn’t feel as good.

  6. Amanda Gayer says:

    Although Bush and the mainstream American public may not have intended to exclude Muslims, I’m afraid exclusion and prejudice may indeed have been present to some extent. As I read this post, I recalled my own experience as a New Yorker after the 9/11 attacks. Most of the people I knew were open-minded and accepting of different cultures, including Muslims. However, even in my accepting community, I absolutely recall hearing conversations about politics in which people made racist, prejudiced comments about Muslim people. I recall people in airports commenting on the ethnicities of other passengers. I can only imagine what it would have felt like to overhear such comments as an American Muslim. 9/11 created a great deal of fear, and that fear was directed at the most obvious target – people of Arabic descent. Whether actively or passively, consciously or subconsciously, Americans generated a great deal of negativity toward Muslim people.

  7. haleynicoleepstine says:

    I agree with others in that President Bush did not mean for Muslim Americans to not join in on the increase patrotism that occured post 911. I think a great comparision to this would be what happened during WWII with the Japanse and the interment camps. I feel like what occured during that time fits your arguement much better than what occured post 9/11. Then the Japanese were COMPLETELY excluded from society. While yes America has pushed Muslim Americans into their own category, I think that that was is more of a secondary affect than the intial intent of the president.

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