I was listening to the news this week after the first round of testimonies with FBI Director Comey and NSA director Admiral Rogers. The discussion which followed revolved around the lies of our president, which were no longer presented as “alternative facts” or “untruths.” They are lies.
One reporter ran through a litany of lies, one of which was the infamous “There were people that were cheering on the other side of New Jersey, where you have large Arab populations. They were cheering as the World Trade Center came down.”
I decided to see if any of Dad’s old New Jersey newspapers could uncover any stories regarding these alleged celebrations. I was not disappointed, finding an article published two days after the attack in the Newark Star Ledger. What happened throughout the country to many Muslim-Americans was quite shameful as evidenced by the article.
In Alexandria, Virginia, the window of an Islamic bookstore was smashed, while in San Francisco, a bag containing pig’s blood was left on the steps of thean Islamic center. Parents of Muslim children pulled their children from their classrooms because they feared violence against them. Hotlines were established to ferry out complaints, and police increased security at mosques and Muslim stores. My husband told me of a Muslim coworker who feared for the safety of himself and his family.
I continued reading these disgraceful stories and felt sick to my stomach, knowing attacks again Muslimss are happening more and more in this country today. Then I saw the famous story spouted by then candidate Trump:
In New Jersey, one of the most persistent rumors—repeated all day on talk radio and on the Internet—was that Muslims in Paterson were celebrating the attacks in the streets of the Passaic County city.
Angry callers besieged media outlets and local police for demands for action to the point that city officials sent out a press release categorically denying the rumor. For many, that was not enough to quell their rage.
Sadly, the violence continued, and one of the primary victims were Indian-American Sikhs, simply because their traditional turbans and beards looked similar to Osama Bin Laden. The article ended with the story of an Indian-American family who had gone to McDonald’s shortly after the attack on the World Trade Center. The husband, who himself had safely escape from one of the towers, was verbally attacked by a woman who yelled, “That’s what happens in America when they let those immigrants in.”
So there you go. The story of people “cheering on the other side of New Jersey” was proven false immediately. Sad, isn’t it?
We are always looking for a scapegoat. During World War II it was the Japanese, then the Russians during the Cold War when my father was trying to bring his mother home. Now it is the refugees fleeing from persecution and Muslims who just want to live their lives.
Yes, within any group there is always evil, but to persecute and blame them all is just not what I thought the Statue of Liberty symbolized. Again I wonder: What would Dad say?