Every now and then, history throws America a curve ball that tests the breadth and depth of its professed values and ideals. Today, history is hurling a tricky ball at a new generation of Americans; we must swing hard to hit that ball and we must not miss.
In the heated aftermath of 9/11, much has changed in America. Shadows of suspicion have been cast on an entire group of Americans simply because of their religious affiliation. A large number of Muslim-Americans have found themselves the subject of intense scrutiny as a direct result of crimes they never committed nor ever sanctioned. Good law-abiding citizens are often rendered guilty until proven innocent. Muslim immigrants are singled out for sporadic incarcerations and deportations leaving behind torn families and a shattered American dream. Muslims face intimidation on the streets, degradation at airports, and mass deionization in the media.
Why is this happening in America, the land of the free?
Because 9/11 changed everything, some will argue.
But should we allow it to change everything?
Should America crack under pressure? Should its institutions cease to govern equitably? Should its Bill of Rights cease to protect unanimously? Should the intense fear and paranoia born on 9/11 and meticulously bred ever since by doomsayers with narrow political agendas become the new rule of the land?
Should we now stifle the diversity that has always been a source of our strength? Should we now choose what is easy when we have always opted for what is right?
Affirmative answers send a message to the world that Bin Laden has succeeded in breaking America and exposing the frailty of our democracy which quickly crumbles if struck with the right force. Forsaking our values and our civil liberties that have made us who we are – under the pretense of precautionary measures – is essentially conceding victory to organized terrorism.
The health of a democracy is not ascertained in times of peace but in times of conflict. Our Civil rights as law-abiding citizens are not a trust given to us until security becomes an issue, but are permanent and persistent rights that must be respected even in perilous times. Defending America from foreign threat should never result in undermining the very constitution that makes America worth defending. Those who argue otherwise imply that the democratic paradigm with its emphasis on civil liberties and justice is inherently flawed since its applicability is conditional. The rule of law cannot have human eyes, because human eyes are biased. As our government purports to export democratic ideals to remote parts of the world, will Americans not demand that they be preserved here at home?
The vicious attacks of 9/11 may have brought down the twin towers in Manhattan, but bringing down the twin towers of American equality and justice is all on us; will they prove sturdier than steel? It takes the mistargeted wrath of a few riled up policy makers, public commentators, and vigilante Joes to bring down those towers. Will the defenders of democracy rise up to challenge those who are rocking its ship? Therein is the struggle.
You once had to be of a certain color to be fully American enjoying full civil rights; a determined generation of Americans fought a courageous battle and changed that forever. Today, some factions suggest that you have to be of a certain faith to be fully American enjoying full civil rights.
This generation must fight this abomination and once again carry America to new heights.
A great nation will always face great challenges. personally, I am not intimidated by the sight of the approaching ball, but I pray to God we don’t put our bat down because this struggle, in the end, is a struggle for the soul of America.