In light of recent events involving three medical students who happened to be of an unfortunately conspicuous nationality, I still agree with it. When I was in eighth grade and we toured the White House, the world was a different place, yet my eighth grade catholic school class was still warned seriously against any dialogue carried on within White House walls. We were told not to even joke about things such as bombs because it was rumored that there were actually secret panels in the walls out of which the secret service would appear and drag the foolish conversationalist off for serious interrogation. It is a well known fact that when you’re in the airport and the guy at the counter asks you all the boiler plate question – “Has anyone had contact with your bags…etc.” you don’t make a joke and say, “well there was that strange man who asked me to carry his package…” although I’m sure we’ve all wished we could – but we don’t. We live in a different world. We tip toe through times when certain humor is no longer acceptable and in the wake of such devastation.
The bottom line is that our unrestricting, free speech, free press, free everything society is partially to blame for the events of last year. Something slipped by. Everyone was so free that we forgot about our enemies. We shunned the very control that could have protected us all.
Stereotyping is natural. Discrimination is acting on a stereotype and that is unacceptable. But what is so wrong about being aware of our surroundings? Don’t we all glance over our shoulder when walking to the car in a deserted parking lot after a late class? Doesn’t our breathing become a bit staggered as our footsteps on the pavement seem to echo ominously, almost in anticipation of a second set, following closely behind? So how is this current situation any different? What so many “activists” fail to comprehend is that this inherited bias has nothing to do with Arabs or Muslims or Middle Easterners or any of the other coffee table terms for the origins of these recent terrorist cells. If the World Trade Center was hit by blond-haired, blue-eyed Swedes, we would catch ourselves glancing a little too long at any blond-haired, blue-eyed person we happened to cross on the street; evaluating their moves, presupposing their motives. These three men may have made a bad joke, fed up with the sideways glances and the quiet whispers, but it was the wrong joke at the wrong time. The chastised shouldn’t lay blame with the Americans who are just genuinely afraid because their security and systems of belief have been threatened. The blame is to be carried by those who inflicted this loss; those who have disgraced their nationality and isolated their race from mankind.
Whitney Friedrich is a senior majoring in Advertising and English.