Source: Washington Post
Germano Riviera walks with the “Flag of Honor,” which displays the names of all of the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, across from Ground Zero on the eve of the 11th anniversary of September 11 on Sept. 10, 2012 in New York City. (GETTY IMAGES)“You don’t have to do this! You shouldn’t have to. It’s a disgrace.”
At the height of the 2010 Park 51 “Ground Zero Mosque” controversies, I, along with thousands of Muslim American youth nationwide, was engrossed in a massive “Muslims for Peace” flyer distribution. Days before the ninth anniversary of Sept. 11, I met my match at a Wisconsin State Fair.
The young mother of two looked me in the eye and said, “I am a Christian. The day I see Christians passing out millions of ‘Christians for Peace’ flyers to condemn abortion clinic bombings, let’s talk. You’re my fellow American. You don’t need to prove your Americanness to me.”
Our discussion was short-lived as her children pulled her to the next great fair adventure. She left with a smile. I was left grateful, and wondering. Grateful that people like her exist. Wondering what it would take for all Americans to embrace tolerance and pluralism over prejudice?
In the 11 years since Sept. 11, 2001, we have learned that Osama bin Laden is dead, Afghanistan is on its last leg, and that Muslim Americans have raised over 20,000 blood donations in the past 13 months alone specifically to honor Sept. 11 victims. Yet, Pew reports that Muslim Americans had a higher approval rating right after Sept. 11 than they do now. Despite all the progress we have made as a nation, is our net movement in the red?