Sept. 11 changed everything — for America and its Muslims.
Thousands were killed in the attack — nearly 500 from Long Island — leaving scores of families and friends with gaping wounds. And for Muslims, who were average Americans a day earlier, public scrutiny bore down like never before.
In the 13 years since the terror attacks, Muslims have lost security clearances at federal posts under the guise of national security; were the target of the infamous NYPD Demographics Unit, which spied on mosques and neighborhood bookstores;
were the subject of Rep. Peter King’s unfortunate radicalization hearings;
were the lightning rod for anti-Muslim blogger Pamela Geller, who led the charge against a mosque near Ground Zero;
were a particular whipping boy for comedian Bill Maher’s rants against religion;
But it appears that efforts by Muslims as well as non-Muslims across the country, including many New Yorkers, to fight bigotry are helping to stem the tide. And I’m hopeful that this will continue.
Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York police Commissioner Bill Bratton have shut down the Demographics Unit. It’s a step toward equality and justice, because their decision acknowledges the unit’s civil rights violations and wasteful spending. After years in operation, the unit found zero leads, but created plenty of distrust.