See my guest post at Book Connection as I talk about the impact of 9/11 on the lives of the ordinary Muslims.
There was a time before September 10, 2001, when I could jaywalk down 6th street in downtown Austin and blend in with the locals. I was colorless, stripped of ethnicity, even faceless at times. After all, diversity is what added to the flavor of the city––that and a certain cross dressing gentleman in thongs who once ran for the city mayor.
That was before some of the locals exchanged their world vision glasses with compromised ones and took a serious look around. What they saw terrified them. They were in a minority in their own land with a group of people they knew little or nothing about. It scared them that the color of their skin matched the ones who took the towers down. After all, didn’t all Muslims prostrate in the same manner as the attackers? Did they not worship at mosques as well? Then came the lumping-of-all-potatoes-in-one-sack epiphany. If all Muslims prayed the same way, surely they must share the same ideology as the terrorists. As the overly-corrected vision of the locals turned blurry from the daily input they received from the media and those around them, they learned to live in fear. With every change in color in the national security threat level, their hearts sank even more. Could they trust the friendly Muslim neighbor across the street, the one who greeted them every morning but sported a beard and whose wife wore a headscarf? The day after 9/11, Muslim-Americans woke up to a new America––the one where they were no longer regarded as locals but outsiders and lumped together with the fundamentalists. They struggled to know themselves, only to lose themselves in the interpretation of others.
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