Thirteen years ago today, our nation was shocked by vicious attacks that struck a chord with virtually every American citizen who was old enough to be aware of what was happening. Though most of us were in second or third grade, we remember where we were and what we were doing on that day. From the West Coast to the East Coast, an incredible anger overtook the nation, as U.S. citizens sought justice for the horrific events that had unfolded before their eyes. Unfortunately, for many that anger stopped not at the few who were responsible for the grievous crimes, but extended to every person who looked like them, sounded like them or even had a last name similar to theirs. It is vitally important that we do not let the actions of a very small minority affect how we view an entire group of people.
It is important to remember that every group of people has its share of radicals. Just as few Christians would want to be associated with the Crusades or the Ku Klux Klan, we should not judge all Muslims by the actions of a few just because they used parts of their religions’ Holy Book to justify their actions. Recently, I overheard a fellow white UT student telling a friend that it was only a matter of time before the “ragheads” in the Middle East attack the United States again if the United States continues to support Israel and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Gaza. The two continued to throw around this hurtful term multiple times in the conversation as they debated the feasibility of another large-scale terrorist attack from the Middle East. These statements, needless to say, generalize the actions of a very few to a group of people that makes up 23 percent of the world’s, and a substantial part of UT’s, population.
Unfortunately, people with similar anti-Muslim feelings sometimes channel their anger into action. There are hundreds of reported anti-Muslim hate crimes every year, but the Department of Justice predicts that the real number is in the thousands. Most of these crimes go unreported for a variety of reasons, namely that victims feel that police will not do much in response. The number of these reports saw a huge spike after the attacks of 9/11. The saddest, most twisted part is that neither the victims nor the perpetrators of these crimes had much to do with the attacks of 9/11, but the generalization of blame for the attacks leads to widespread hatred.
Individuals from all religions have committed crimes, and we should not let the sense of violation we feel from the 9/11 attacks taint our perception of the many Muslims throughout the world, especially not at UT. We’re all Longhorns, and we should treat each other that way.
Lueder is a Plan II, philosophy, business honors and finance junior from Dallas.