Ultimately, By associating them with terrorists, people tend to

Ultimately,
Arabs and Muslims are represented in a collective identity within one category
promoted by Western ideologies with the assumption that Arabs and Muslims embody
a potential for terrorism and that a sole individual can represent a whole
ethnic group. The events of 9/11 have put the spotlight on Arabs, Muslims, and
Arab Americans and revealed to the world the injustices they had to deal with
before and after 9/11. They have been dragged around and dehumanized as puppets
where they must assert their American identity and prove their allegiance to
the US repeatedly in order to secure a place in America. As Susan Jacoby, the
author of the  New York Times best
seller The Age of
American Unreason, says,
“The forgetting of
the history of marginalized groups is both a cause and effect of their
marginalization”. Therefore, everyone cannot forget, but
rather offer mutual support and “carry each other because you are either with
life, or against it” (Hammad 103-104).

By
associating them with terrorists, people tend to dehumanize Arabs and Muslims
and lose empathy towards them because they could have a connection with the
terrorists since they share the same religion or origin. This dangerous concept
leads to marginalization of the entire Arab and Muslim communities within the
US, the easy decision to retaliate without looking at the bigger picture of the
innocent victims who will suffer the most, and war crimes committed in the
Middle East. She criticizes the “us versus them” mentality and states that both
ends will suffer. Innocent women and kids will mostly pay the price during revenge wars and in
America, liberty and justice will suffer due to crimes that will be committed
during these wars. She criticizes the Western approach of violence to deal with
the aftermath of 9/11 by automatically labeling Arabs and Muslims as terrorists
and treating them accordingly.

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Persons
perceived to be Arab, Middle Eastern, or Muslim were targeted after 9/11 by
harassment or violence based on the assumption that they embodied a potential
for terrorism, were a threat to US national security, and deserve punishment.
The markers such as skin tone, name, religion, and nation of origin were
signifiers that automatically associated individuals with terrorism. The
construction of Arab and Muslim immigrants as different from and inferior to
“white” Western civilization is based on the belief that they are foreign, have
innately criminal tendencies, and must be “controlled”. According to Evelyn
Alsultany, Muslims and Arabs are assumed to be “bad” until they prove otherwise
by performing an act that confirms their allegiance to the US. This became a
standardized representation of Arabs and Muslims after 9/11(15). Hammad writes:

Assumption
is a motif present throughout the poem; Hammad highlights the lack of knowledge
of that “one more person” that homogenizes all Arabs’ and Muslims’
individuality, experiences, and identity. She states that no one speaks on
behalf of her and she certainly does not atone for someone else’s wrongdoings
because they share the same religious belief or ethnic identity. She does not
represent an entire race; the concept is even more conflicting when the
individual is Arab American, two distinct opposing identities especially after
9/11. She identifies herself as American and Arab; thus, a struggle can be
noted between both her identities when she fears of retaliation against her flesh
and blood because they have the same facial features of the Arab terrorist
promoted by racist Western ideologies and when she wants to grief through the
traumatic event like any American citizen. She disagrees with the fact that an
Arab individual is placed as responsible for an entire group solely due to the
Western culture’s ignorance and racial discourses.

The
idea that an Arab individual is representative and is responsible of an entire
race and actions of an entire group is only promulgated by racists; they reduce
all Arabs to a single homogenous group that is filled with stereotypical
representations defined by the “white” Western beliefs. Hammad writes about the
construction of narratives based on Western ideologies and assumptions which projects
Arab and Muslim identity as the foreign enemy:

“We”,
the Arabs, Muslims, Arab Americans and demonized groups after 9/11, did not
vilify an entire group, and certainly did not accuse all whites of being
terrorists. Hammad questions the rationality behind white people being exempt
from any racial associations, or racist definitions concerning themselves and
non-whites being blamed by those same white people under similar terror events;
this accentuates their hypocrisy. Hammad challenges the reduction of all Arabs
and Muslims to a single Other category and ponders upon the Western exemptions
from collective racial discrimination and their hypocrisy.

Hammad
emphasizes by repetition that for the purveyors of racialized concepts, there
is “no difference” because they target Arabs, Muslims or anyone who is not
“white” by appearance. She enumerates a variety of nationalities that fall
under the persecuted groups because they are presumed to be Arab or Muslim
“more than ever” after the events of 9/11, which shows the ignorance of the
conflation that contributes to the othering. As Nadine Naber mentions in the
chapter “Look, Mohammad the Terrorist Is Coming!”, “On September 15, 2001, a
Sikh man, Balbir Singh Sodhi was gunned down outside his gas station. … His
killer kept bragging about killing all the ragheads responsible for
September 11. … On September 15, 2001, Adel Karas, a Coptic Christian grocer
was killed in his store” (289). Islamophobia shown towards Arab Christians
proves that the hatred is based on more than religious spite and that many
people who fear or dislike Arabs base their worries on the misinterpretation of
Islam. Therefore, there is no accurate basis for “lumping” Muslims into one
category. This Anti-Arab racism provides a context for the misinterpretation of
Islam within the Western culture of prejudice, hatred, discrimination, and
oppression. Hammad responds to this issue:

Conflating
the terms Muslim, Arab, and terrorist enables a racial
othering which reduces the inherent variety of the Arab and
Muslim population to one category: the Other who is “fanatical, misogynistic
and anti-American” (9) according to Evelyn Alsultany in “Introduction to Arabs
and Muslims in the Media”. Subsequently, Western civilization can be
conceptualized as the inverse of these perceived qualities. In her poem, Hammad
reveals the American ignorance of other cultures:

The
ever-present racial hierarchies existing within the American society forces
Arab Americans to face the dilemma of certain dichotomies such as white or not
white, American or enemy related to the terrorists, and us or them. September-11-related
hate crimes, discrimination and violence targeted people who displayed symbols
of a constructed Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim identity which signified an
association with the enemy of the nation. After 9/11, Arab Americans have been
denied their American identity and were considered guilty by association. Western
racialization represented the Arab and Islamic culture and values as inherently
inferior and evil. In the spoken word poem “First Writing Since” written by
Suheir Hammad, she argues that Arabs and Muslims are represented in collective,
essentialized identities that are characterized by the intersection of race and
religion.

Challenging
the Obvious: Survival through Western Racist Ideologies