This piece was originally posted on July 6, 2011. It is being re-posted as part of our CHICKS ROCK! Summer Retrospective, during which we will post a combination of new content and posts from the past. Enjoy!
The United States of America has always had its critics. After the second Iraq War began in 2002, global criticism of the country grew considerably. It was a tricky time; if an American criticized the war, that person was considered unpatriotic. I even heard some people in the media saying that anyone critical against the military efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan should leave the country for good. I was critical of the second Iraq War, but as a sister of a U.S. army officer, I am completely on the side of the troops who were and still are deployed overseas. I found the attacks on people who openly criticized the war to be similar to witch hunts, only there would be no literal burnings at the stake.
Even though I am not a Muslim or an Arab, I was told by a family member that our last name implies that we could be one or both. He also claimed that we were facing bias because of it in the workplace. I personally never felt this, and refused to succumb to pressure to change my last name in the new Post-9/11 America. After all, Sikhs were being attacked because of their turbans, and they are not Arabs or connected to the Muslim religion. These attacks really had to do with xenophobia, which is an unreasonable fear or hatred of foreigners and anything foreign. When I heard about the murder of a Sikh man mistaken for an Arab on September 15, 2001, I remembered reading that the murderer was ignorant and xenophobic to begin with. After 9/11, he decided to unleash his hatred as a form of vigilante justice on those who did not look right to him.
As I celebrate the America’s birthday this week, I am reminded of our continuing struggles for freedom and against bigotry. I am proud that as an American, I can openly support and criticize my country without fear of imprisonment. Difficult times, such as those faced after 9/11, remind me that we should NEVER take our freedoms for granted.