That damned Arab scum

Beth Rankin

Guest column

I am scared out of my mind. My freedom, liberty and security have been threatened at my favorite white-bread superstore.

I was at Wal-Mart the other day, and while I was peacefully shopping for my Swiffer, I bumped into a terrorist. In my Wal-Mart!

He and his wife spoke to each other in Arabic, and I just bet they were talking about bombing the whole damn Wal-Mart. Those people want nothing more than to destroy America, and what’s more American than Wal-Mart?

OK, let’s back up for a moment.

First of all, I do not think this way. In the least. And while to me, and hopefully to you, the first three paragraphs of this column seem completely comical and ridiculous, for millions of Americans, those paragraphs mirror thoughts that run through their minds constantly.

The recent bombings in London made me sad on a number of levels. Not only did innocent people die, but any mended ties between scared white Americans and the Middle Eastern community were probably blown apart as soon as the bombs exploded.

After 9/11, Americans were scared, and they were scared of terrorists. More accurately, they were scared of people who looked, talked, acted or dressed like possible terrorists. In October 2001, a woman once tried to use my cell phone to call 9-1-1 because two men of Middle Eastern descent were taking pictures of Lake Erie.

“They are terrorists and I am calling the police!” she cried before I wrestled my purloined phone from her bony manicured fingers. When I told her she was acting ridiculous, she just ran to the next person and used their phone to vocalize her fear and racism.

After the dust settles from an event like 9/11, some people slowly began to come around and realize that being Arabic doesn’t make you a potential suicide bomber. But following events such as the Madrid or London bombings, terror and fear become fresh in people’s minds, and that fear and racism comes back.

Sometimes I wonder: Who can blame these people for acting this way? With the government issuing color-coded warnings to the public constantly and using Arabic words as if they themselves are tools of terrorism, it has to be hard to step outside the box of fear and realize that being Middle Eastern doesn’t mean you have to be a terrorist.

But as human beings, we have an obligation to not be ignorant assholes. If you think for one moment that just because someone has tan skin, dark hair and goes to a mosque that they are a threat to your safety, you deserve to be the one in Guantanamo Bay, not them. Your fear and ignorance are hurting people by limiting their freedom.

After 9/11, my significant other, an American born in Cleveland whose parents are Palestinian refugees, was called racist names in public, and now, he won’t go some places out of fear. What about his freedom and safety? He is just as American as anyone.

The next time you think that tan-skinned man in front of you in line at the mall is a full-blown Jihadist, do us all a favor and remember that he’s a human being, too. And please, leave your ignorance at the door.

Beth Rankin is a junior newspaper journalism major and Web editor for the Summer Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].