Muslim Americans and the Impact of September 11th Essay

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Immigration and the Muslim Population



9/11 changed the world -- especially in the U.S. in terms of Muslim-American relations and the way the word "terror" and "terrorist" is used to identify or refer to a group of people.[footnoteRef:1] The issue of Islamaphobia became more pronounced and anti-Muslim immigration policies began to be discussed as a matter of national security.[footnoteRef:2] As -- has shown, the media has been complicit in both demonizing the Muslim community in America and promoting a view of American immigration policy that is anti-Muslim.[footnoteRef:3] This paper will show that the changes in U.S. immigration policy post 9-11 have negatively affected American Muslims in several ways as a result of inherently racist legislation specifically targeting all Muslims regardless of whether they are U.S. citizens or not. [1: Jigyasu, R. "Defining the Definition for Addressing the 'Reality'," in What is a Disaster?: New Answers to Old Questions, Ed. Ronald W. Perry & E.L. Quarantelli. International Research Committee on Disasters, 2005.] [2: Sheridan, L. (2006). Islamophobia pre- and post-September 11th, 2001. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 21(3): 317-336.] [3: Britton, N. (2005). Dog or Demon? What is a Disaster? Philadelphia: Xlibris; Steuter, E., Wills, D. (2009). Discourses of Dehumanization: Enemy Construction and Canadian Media Complicity in the Framing of the War on Terror. Global Media Journal, 2(2): 7-24.]



John F. Kennedy had described America as a "nation of immigrants" in the mid-20th century, yet events unfolded that propelled America away from this identity to police state wherein security and safety become more important than the idea espoused by Kennedy.[footnoteRef:4] Following 9/11 immigrants groups were targeted by legislators, policy makers, and pundits: rather than the heart and soul -- the foundation -- of America they became public enemy no. 1. Detecting and preventing "terrorist" activity became the paramount objective of post-9/11 America. [4: John F. Kennedy, A Nation of Immigrants (NY: Harper, 2008), 1.]



The attacks of September 11, 2001, impacted the whole world, in fact: it altered the outlook of universal security, the topography of citizenship and belonging; Arab and Muslim societies around the world became suspect -- not just in the United States.[footnoteRef:5] Wars erupted in the Middle East, refugees flooded Europe; violence escalated there -- and more terror attacks occurred -- in France, Germany, Brussels, Boston, California, Orlando, Ohio. The relationship between the West and the Arab world was full of tension. America, being the leader of the free world, was partly responsible for this course of events. Having suffered the greatest attack on its soil in history on 9/11, it responded with aggression and a ramping up of security measures that changed America from the welcoming "nation of immigrants" it had been half a century earlier to the borders-closing, protectionist state that is now setting a nationalist example for other states throughout the world. [5: Ciftci, S. (2012). Islamophobia and threat perceptions: Explaining anti-Muslim sentiment in the West. Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs, 32(3): 292-309.]

MUSLIMS IN THE U.S.



The Muslim population in America is not large -- at just 1% of the population, according to Pew Research, followers of Islam make up a rather insignificant portion of American society.[footnoteRef:6] Yet they have become the extreme focus of American rhetoric, politics, security forces, and ideologues. One of the reasons for this is the oversimplification of 9/11 and the factors that both led to and arose from it. Instead of focusing on the geopolitical variables that led to and arose from 9/11, the mainstream media in America whipped up anti-Islam furor -- showing clips of celebrating Muslims in the wake of 9/11 that were entirely unrelated to what was going on in America and waging a PR war against leaders like Hussein in Iraq and Assad in Syria-based wholly on fabricated intelligence. The "enemy" responsible for 9/11 was never substantially identified: even the role of White House favorites in Saudi Arabia was not divulged for years because the "28" pages of material redacted from the 9/11 Commission's Report were barred from being seen by the American public.[footnoteRef:7] There was a deliberate effort on the part of the Establishment to whitewash the investigation and deceive the American public about the role of geopolitics in the Middle East and how American leaders were aiding and abetting terrorist cells in the Middle East to promote regime change.[footnoteRef:8] The double standard was rife with hypocrisy and American Muslims paid the price: their sense of being "welcome" in America was suddenly threatened by the idea that radical Islamic terror was all their fault. [6: Besheer Mohamed, A new estimate of the U.S. Muslim population.

Stuck Writing Your "Muslim Americans and the Impact of September 11th" Essay?

Pew Research, 6 Jan 2016. http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/01/06/a-new-estimate-of-the-u-s-muslim-population/] [7: Paul Jaeger, Information policy, information access, and democratic participation: The national and international implications of the Bush administration's information politics. Government Information Quarterly, vol. 24, no. 4 (2007): 840-859.] [8: David Mednicoff, Compromising toward confusion: The 9/11 Commission Report and American policy in the Middle East. Contemporary Sociology, vol. 34, no. 2 (2005): 107-115.]



Instead of misleading the American public, the Bush administration could have profited more by cultivating a better relationship with Muslims both in America and abroad, according to the research of Mantri (2011), who notes that "the biggest secret weapon in the U.S. arsenal is its large, prosperous, well-integrated moderate Muslim population" for two reasons: they can help both to identify the "criminals, misfits, and murderers" actually responsible for causing violence and to improve Muslim-American relations by showing their support for a nation attempting to right a wrong.[footnoteRef:9] The point that Mantri makes is that rather than fueling Islamaphobia, American leaders should have turned to Muslim Americans to help calm the situation, find a solution, and rebuild the nation's identity as a "nation of immigrants." American leaders failed to do this: instead they chose to go to war, using 9/11 as a pre-text for regime change in the Middle East and for the ultra-privacy invading policies enacted into law with the ready-to-go on the day of the attack Patriot Act -- rushed through Congress with reckless abandon. [9: G. Mantri, Homegrown Terrorism. Harvard International Review, 33(1): 94.]

THE BACKGROUND TO IMMIGRATION POLICIES IN THE U.S.



National security became the foremost important issue in America following 9/11. Hafetz (2012) points out that since the terror attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City, "several areas of overlap between immigration and national security law" have occurred.[footnoteRef:10] Towards identifying the purveyors of violence against Americans, legislators and leaders in American politics have adopted "narratives that pit the rights of others (whether defined as immigrants of terrorism suspects) against the public safety...and the use of security as a proxy for other agendas."[footnoteRef:11] The ironic twist here is that in spite of the pro-immigrant words of Kennedy in the mid-20th century, the fact is that American history is full of anti-immigrant legislation. The Chinese Exclusion Act promoted xenophobic, racist attitudes towards Asians in the 19th century and was passed to lay "the groundwork for other racially motivated laws that followed."[footnoteRef:12] WWI and WW2 served to whip up anti-German sentiment in America (as well as more anti-Asian sentiment). Today's "war on terrorism" is really just an extension of these narratives -- and Kennedy's "nation of immigrants" ideation was more of a political talking/rallying point than a reflection of reality. Indeed, the idea of Manifest Destination was born of a distinctly racist view of America's place in the world: devised by WASPs (White-Anglo-Saxon Protestants), the ideology of Manifest Destiny was that American had the God-given duty to expand its borders, taking lands from natives to the south and west (and once this was accomplished to look even beyond the seas to lands all over the world). [10: J. Hafetz, Immigration and national security law: Converging approaches to state power, individual rights, and judicial review. ILSA Journal of International and Comparative Law, 18(3) (2012): 627.] [11: J. Hafetz, Immigration and national security law: Converging approaches to state power, individual rights, and judicial review. ILSA Journal of International and Comparative Law, 18(3) (2012): 627.] [12: J. Hafetz, Immigration and national security law: Converging approaches to state power, individual rights, and judicial review. ILSA Journal of International and Comparative Law, 18(3) (2012): 628.]



The origins of immigration law in the U.S. were inspired by the WASP ideology. Prior to the 19th century, immigration was not really an issue. The colonies that survived were mainly British settlements (the Catholic French and Spanish in the north, west and south had essentially lost sovereignty through war and geopolitical factors) and thus the ideology that formed the basis of American legislation was steeped in Protestant English sentiment. The 1790 Act allow persons to be naturalized who were "free white persons" -- and blacks were included in this only after Lincoln came to power. It would be another century before Asians would be included in the naturalization law.[footnoteRef:13] [13: Jeffrey Schultz, Encyclopedia of Minorities in American Politics (NY: Onyx, 2002), 284.]



The power of WASPs….....

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References


Berger, L. (2014). Foreign policies or culture. Journal of Peace Research, 51(6): 782-

Britton, N. (2005). Dog or Demon? What is a Disaster? Philadelphia: Xlibris.

Bush, Jeb; Thomas Mclarty, U.S. Immigration Policy. Council on Foreign Relations, 2009.

Ciftci, S. (2012). Islamophobia and threat perceptions: Explaining anti-Muslim sentiment in the West. Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs, 32(3): 292-309.

Davis, John. Presidential Policies and the Road to the Second Iraq War. VT: Ashgate, 2006.

Ferguson, Niall. Colossus. NY: Penguin, 2004.

Hafetz, J. (2012). Immigration and national security law: Converging approaches to state power, individual rights, and judicial review. ILSA Journal of International and Comparative Law, 18(3): 625-647,

Jaeger, Paul. Information policy, information access, and democratic participation: The national and international implications of the Bush administration's information politics. Government Information Quarterly, vol. 24, no. 4 (2007): 840-859.

Jigyasu, R. "Defining the Definition for Addressing the 'Reality'," in What is a Disaster?: New Answers to Old Questions, Ed. Ronald W. Perry & E.L. Quarantelli. International Research Committee on Disasters, 2005.

Jones, Plummer Alston. Still Struggling for Equality. CT: Libraries Unlimited, 2004.

Kennedy, John F. A Nation of Immigrants. NY: Harper, 2008.

Mantri, G. (2011). Homegrown Terrorism. Harvard International Review, 33(1), 88-104.

Mednicoff, David. Compromising toward confusion: The 9/11 Commission Report and American policy in the Middle East. Contemporary Sociology, vol. 34, no. 2 (2005): 107-115.

Mohamed, Besheer. A new estimate of the U.S. Muslim population. Pew Research, 6 Jan 2016. http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/01/06/a-new-estimate-of-the-u-s-muslim-population/

Potocky-Tripodi, M. (2002). Best Practices for Social Work with Refugees and Immigrants. New York: Columbia University Press

Sheridan, L. (2006). Islamophobia pre- and post-September 11th, 2001. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 21(3): 317-336.

Steuter, E., Wills, D. (2009). Discourses of Dehumanization: Enemy Construction and Canadian Media Complicity in the Framing of the War on Terror. Global Media Journal, 2(2): 7-24.

Williams, Mary. Immigration. CT: Greenhaven, 2004.

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