I was at a concert at Sunday when I found out from my sister, who had been checking twitter on her phone, that Osama Bin Laden was killed. It was definitely a ‘whoa’ moment and I really wished I had a TV right there to watch the news to keep up with all that was going on and watch the President’s speech. My mom called to tell us what had happened and told us to be careful.
It was a surreal moment and I couldn’t help but think about what this all meant. Like millions of other people, I had the same thoughts – does this mean we’ll get our troops out of Afghanistan? Iraq? Can a half empty tube of toothpaste of 12 ounces safely be in one’s carry-on?
Anyways, back to the night of the concert…
When my sister and I got home, my mom had actually said that she wanted to tell us to just leave there and get home as soon as possible. I didn’t quite understand her reaction. Why would I, mild-mannered Bushra, have to worry about anything? Bin Laden was killed. In the eyes of most people, Muslims included, that’s a good thing, right? So why would Muslims get any flak for that in the U.S. Shouldn’t we all feel the same sense of relief? I thought that now I wouldn’t have to worry about anything anymore.
The reason I was hoping for that was because ever since 9/11, I’ve always been self conscious of the things I do in public in case someone gets the wrong idea to the extent that people are surprised when I tell them why I didn’t do something. Folks usually say something like “I didn’t even think about that”. The thing is, i have to think about that. I have to think that it might look slightly weird when I play shooting games at the arcade or that I have the band “Explosions in the Sky” on my iPod (which I changed to “EITS” when I went to Australia last year lest anyone think I made a playlist for inflight terrorism). I over think about these things to the point that people think I’m kind of nuts but y’know, sometimes, it’s just hard for someone else to understand. This isn’t a plea for sympathy or anything. It is what it is.
I thought now we can all move on with our lives now. Bring back the troops and use the money spent on wars to instead take care of American lives before meddling with others. Everything will now be a-ok and in the process, Muslm Americans can now be brethren to their fellow Americans.
But now, I feel like Muslim Americans have to walk on eggshells all over again. Just this past week, there have been a couple of incidents. For instance, two imams were thrown off a plane because the pilot was uncomfortable with them and someone also vandalized on a mosque in the U.S.,. In a lesser extent, I, who rarely notice anything, actually received stares on BART the other day. I would totally have given the guy the “finger guns” but who know how that would’ve been taken? ;)
I think I’m incredibly sheltered from the rest of the U.S. by living in the Bay Area where so many people are totally open minded (you kind of have to be open minded about everything here, otherwise this really isn’t the place for you). I forget that not everyone is like that. We’re all better than this though and there are plenty of good people of all religions in this country.
I love this video I caught on the Daily Show that really shows (for the most part) that people can accept one another:
Here’s to moving forward!