Monday, January 9, 2012

What It's Like to be Muslim in America

I was talking with a friend at work about how we've lost the fifth amendment and there's no longer due process of the law for Americans or others. Sad and ridiculous. But keep in mind that it's always been pretty bad. It wasn't that long ago women couldn't vote. It wasn't that long ago that blacks de facto couldn't vote. Yeah, the law said they could. But the reality was they couldn't. The powerful are pushing to take away more freedoms, but they're always doing that. You just have to keep pushing back.

My friend asked if I was concerned because I always express so much hostility to status quo power structures. Nah. I'm a white guy and I'm not a Muslim. I'm not really in any danger.

But if I were non white and a Muslim I'd definitely think differently. My friend from Pakistan is in this position. He says that he's talked with his brother on the phone, who lives in LA. If he so much as says "As-Salāmu `Alaykum" (peace be upon you), his brother will hang up the phone. Don't say that. Don't so much as say Allah. He literally says that if he says Allah his brother will hang up the phone. He's come too far, worked too hard, to do anything that could even lead to him being mistakenly targeted as an enemy by the US government. He refuses to discuss politics or anything that approaches issues related to terrorism on or off the phone.

You might think that's too paranoid. I don't. Within this article from Glenn Greenwald you can hear harrowing tales of innocent Muslims shipped to Cuba and tortured for years on end. And without a shred of evidence. Possibly errors, possibly other reasons. And these are the lucky ones that through an almost random series of events managed to get a day in court and be ordered released. There are others that sit there today with no recourse.

I imagine many Muslims silently derive much encouragement from non-Muslim people that object to this treatment. Non-Muslims can speak out without too much fear. We are the best hope for justice, which I think will come eventually. But we have to press on.

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