Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Eleven years ago...
I was in Toronto, visiting my then-boyfriend-now-husband. I was supposed to fly home to North Carolina later that morning. We'd been up late the night before, so I was sleeping in.
He was up early, watching the news. He saw the first plane hit, and came to wake me up with the words, "I don't think you're going home today." I got up in time to watch the second plane hit.
I spent the next three hours cleaning his apartment, desperate to do something constructive, to alter some part of my environment, try to overcome the sense that everything had changed and our world was different.
We went up to the CN tower and watched the smoke rising up from across the lake. I prayed for the people who'd been in those towers. I prayed for the people working rescue, the doctors and nurses who were going to be overwhelmed with mass casualties, and for understanding because I had none.
I felt like someone had wrecked my house, and I couldn't go home to pick up the pieces. The borders were closed, and the airports were full of stranded travelers. There was no news as to when or even if the airports would reopen international flights.
I was lucky in that I had a place to stay, but hundreds of Torontoans opened their houses to take in those who were stranded, to give the Americans a home while their country recovered. Americans are often told that other countries hate us, for our arrogance, our illogically aggressive defenses, or our unpredictability. But all over the world, people came forward and gave our stranded countrymen places to stay, food to eat, and beds for their children.
I remember the kindness, the generosity, and the humanity that the human race still manages to find when we are hurting.
But I also try and remember something else. Muslims around the world were as much a target of the terrorists as America. "Look, we have poked the sleeping giant, and do you think those crazy racist Americans will differentiate between us bad Muslims and you?! Better join us or die, because they will never trust you NOW." The terrorists would love you to believe that all Muslims are evil. It makes their job easier.
Around the world and in America, Muslims worried that they would be made scapegoats, victims of America's wrath. And unfortunately, we have not proven them wrong, even in our own country. Muslims are buried in Arlington, having died defending America. Muslims work as teachers, firefighters, paramedics, police officers, and representatives in Congress. And yet they are afraid to travel in their own country, afraid of being pulled off a plane because some other passenger might get nervous while they are trying to figure out how to turn their phone off, and this makes our Muslim American citizens angry, because they ARE Americans, and they know that this is NOT supposed to be how our country works.
So today, honor 9/11. Smile at the guy wearing a turban. Don't shy away from the lady in the burq'a. Don't spit in front of a mosque. Don't let the bastards turn you into their ally of hatred. Don't let them make you proof of the bigotry, hatred, persecution, and intolerant assholedom they claim all Americans possess.
We are a country of religious tolerance and religious freedom. 9/11 was an attack on both. Don't let the bastards change who we are, both as Americans and as human beings. That's how they win.
P.S. Don't bother posting a comment about how sha'ria law is secretly infiltrating our legal system / Obama's a secret Muslim / it's all the gay agenda blaming the muslims in a clever pre-counter counterattack. If you don't know that ALL laws have roots in the Hammurabic code / Judaic laws / Sha'ria simply because those legal systems PREDATE ours, then we really can't talk. Ditto if you think that it would actually matter if Obama was a Muslim or not. Also gay people are too busy dealing with the Christian religious extremists to bother starting a second fight with another religion.
P.P.S. I'm going to go down to the mosque in the neighborhood later today to be supportive. Even though I was sad when they moved into the building, because it meant the extremely convenient library that was two blocks away moved (to a much nicer building) out of walking distance.