I remember.

After September 11, there were many documented cases of hate crimes against people who were vaguely brown:

The FBI data suggests a 1,600-percent surge in anti-Islamic hate crimes in the days following the Sept. 11 attacks. The research also found a similar increase in hate crimes against people who may have been perceived as members of Islam, Arabs and others thought to be of Middle Eastern origin.

“We knew that followers of the Islamic faith were victims of hate crimes, but other groups suffered just as badly,” Byers said. “That is the nature of prejudice. People perceived as being different because of the color of their skin or dress, or perhaps mistaken as Islamic, were immediately considered outsiders. They became the new enemy for some Americans.

“Some people reacted to it by physically attacking or harassing any person who they considered to be different, he said. “Only when there were calls for tolerance did the attacks decline.”


Remember 9/11!

Remember Pearl Harbor!

And now, Remember Fort Hood!

(Link is to a billboard posted by a Colorado auto dealership that reads “President or Jihad?  Birth certificate?  Prove it!  Wake up America!  Remember Fort Hood!”  You gotta feel sorry for another dealership called “Wolf Auto Group,” which has been receiving messages intended for the other idiots.)

Cue the rising American flag and the playing of the National Anthem.  And bring out the scary white people who want to remember.  And to have vengeance.

I find the rising tide of nationalism to be frightening, because it positions all those real Merkins against the rest of us.  From the billboard, you can see that Obama is “not one of us.”  He’s a threatening furriner.  And this is tied up in the minds of people who also see the American-born Fort Hood shooter as “not one of us.”

The “not one of us” group is huge and all-encompassing, separating the vaguely brown and different folks from the white majority.  And the fear and the hatred are driven by our governmental leaders.  Recently Don Manzullo (R-IL) commented about the “savage religion.”

So is it a surprise that the general population feels it is acceptable to act out their anger?    Valerie Kenney, 54, of [address redacted], a bank teller, has been charged with a hate crime.  But apparently she should just get off with a slap on the wrist.  Editorials in the Wall Street Journal and the Sun-Times have suggested that verbally abusing another person and yanking their headscarf is no big deal.  Let’s address “real crime.”  And “real racism,” if we can find any.

I don’t know that it’s possible for people in the majority to understand what hate crimes do to a community.  Because they undermine any feeling of safety, and the reactions (“no big deal”) reinforce that nobody gives a shit.

But when we remember Pearl Harbor, we remember 9/11, we remember Fort Hood, we should be filled with sadness and not feelings of vengeance.  We should remember that our words and actions can harm innocent victims.  And we should remember that we should claim our voices.  As true Americans.  As patriots.  As anti-racists.

9 thoughts on “I remember.

  1. The days after 9/11, what really struck me was, after the Prez said something like either your with us or against us? that it seemed that a whole lot of brown/black people started walking around with those little flags that became popular, but at the time, it did seem to me that the flag was like a “truce” symbol or something like that, it really struck me that way, I could see fear in innocent people’s eyes, plus there were all kinds of lies about Muslims cheering and stuff like that.

    I really, really am getting upset now by the high level of racist disrespect that our President is getting. That billboard is fn’ horrible, then I saw one of Michelle today that was GROSS, and I just heard about another one of Michelle and her mother, this is escalating,

  2. I used the term “scary white people” more than once in the weeks following 9/11. Even here in Silicon Valley I saw teenagers driving around raising hell with anyone that looked vaguely “Middle Eastern.”

    The fear this caused was evident in my neighborhood. I escorted the Iranian neighbor across the street to various shopping for weeks. I didn’t know what else to do.

    She told me it was the first time she ever felt that here, going back to the mid 1970s.

  3. This is my first time visiting your blog. I’m just wondering if it is common practice here to list the home address, online, of someone with whom you disagree, as you have done with Ms. Kenney. This seems like a violation of her privacy. I’m glad she has been charged for her inappropriate actions, but it’s unclear what purpose is served by publicizing her home address in this space.

    Thanks for the post, and for listening to my concern.

  4. Thanks for your reply. In that case, I question the newspaper’s judgment as well. I’m still not sure what purpose is served by retaining her address in this blog post, other than reducing her privacy to your readers, who may or may not be readers of the source material.

    Thank you too, for the post–these things need to be said as the (not even fringe) right wing tries to politicize Fort Hood in blatantly racist terms.

  5. The police blotter routinely prints names, ages and addresses of people who have been arrested. As do newspapers. And this person’s address was listed on multiple news sites. Neither of these facts is intended to suggest that my inclusion of the address was ethical or moral.

    If I had thought about it, I guess my rationale would have been that if Valerie Kenney felt free enough to do such a thing, she should be identified and held accountable for her actions. I have noticed an inclination on the part of the media not to identify perpetrators when the issue is racism.

    Additionally, I tend to have the (mistaken?) thought that people on my side of the issue wouldn’t respond in the same way that people on the other side of the issue would. That is, I wouldn’t expect her to be the victim of a crime because of her alleged racism. However, people who are the victims of racism often attract additional racism.

    Again, none of the above is intended to suggest that listing the address was right. So thanks, procrastinatrix, for your input.

  6. Yep, I was dating a mid-20s Pakistani guy at the time of 9/11, and even though we were living in San Francisco at the time, he faced harassment. Phone call death threats, harassment by police, and constant weird stares and whispered comments while we were out in the street – even though he dressed very modern (metrosexual, even) and was as atheist as it gets. His family, back in Texas, had it a lot worse – his younger sister was beat up (as he also was while in TX during the first Gulf war). Those first months after 9/11 were weird ones in San Fran – the city suddenly became visibly much more “white”. Restaurants and streets that would normally be full of Indians, SE Asians, Asians, and even Latinos were suddenly emptied as most “brown” people appeared to stay home, and those that did venture out wore flag pins (as someone mentioned above) and tried to keep a low profile.

  7. I don’t really get the context of the comments herein, however, I would like to point out that Wolf Auto Group has dealer locations in Fort Morgan, Holyoke, Sterling Colorado, and in Sidney, Kimball and Scottsbluff, Nebraska.

    We care deeply about our customers and as a professional sales organization, are not interested in the race, creed or color of any customer. We provide a valued service represented by the high repeat business we receive from customers over years.

    As an organization committed to helping all, I respectfully request that you remove the link to our homepage in connection with this story.

    Mike Rowland
    Internet Sales Manager
    Wolf Auto Group

  8. Hi Mike, this post is almost a year old. The links have been removed, including the one you created in your comment. Your site was linked because you were an inadvertent victim of the other Wolf, and your site had a disclaimer on it at the time I posted. I can’t imagine that hordes of readers clicked through recently. Did they? If so, can I get a commission?

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