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Hate is what characterizes terrorists. It succeeds when it enters your hearts.

The stuff that circulates the Internet has always amused me. As someone who corresponds with a lot of people via e-mail, I receive the lions' share of what goes around - and I know that it's REALLY going around when I receive it over and over from various sources. My sister once freaked out because she heard that deodorant gave you cancer, and that prompted a column on all the urban legends that popup in any given week. At the time I gave out several Web sites that did a great job on debunking the silliness - and Well, these two particular sites have been inundated lately with all the stuff that has exploded due to world events, but they have researched them and come up with logical conclusions to most of them. In the past few weeks, a lot of the stuff that has circulated the Internet has NOT amused me.

Like the blue envelopes containing sponges saturated with a deadly virus being anonymously mailed to random Americans. According to, this is merely another in a long line of dumb e-mail hoaxes, one which first made the rounds in May 2000, started circulating again in January 2001 and was revived yet another time in September 2001 when fears about biochemical warfare were revived by the Attack on America.

And it's not just the Internet either. What about when we turn on the TV in the morning to check the weather and see what breaking news stories have occurred as we've slept. I've always liked Diane Sawyer, but this disaster has sent her over the top. Not only does she have way too many shows to dispense her version of news, but on a recent Good Morning America she was delving into biological warfare - just another brand of terrorism that we can sip along with our coffee and donuts.

First she gave a warning that children might want to leave the room before she discussed how really bad things could happen in our world. Shut up already. Yes, that's what I said. SHUT UP. A few terrorists looked at crop duster airplanes and suddenly that is no longer the news - the news is that biological warfare is just around the corner. Well, I am a journalist and I say it isn't. Who are you going to believe?

Or better yet, who do you WANT to believe? It doesn't really matter what the facts are: Let's just base it on could've, might've, should've. Sure, it could've happened. It might've happened. It should've happened - the key terrorist (who killed himself off in the airplane) was looking at the plane. Well, I say they probably did it for kicks. "Hey, let's go look at some crop duster airplanes and then they'll track it and we'll freak the Americans out even more" You don't think their brains work like that? Really? How come? :::::::deep breath:::::::

I think that we need to be smart about this. We need to stop fearing fear itself and learn how to live in a world that is kind of scary, even though in truth it always has been. Biological warfare has been bandied about for a very long time, and we make it real in our novels and movies. And we've been killing ourselves for years, through cigarettes and alcohol and radiation and drugs and oh yeah, does anyone remember a little place called Love Canal? We've been living in this country without the daily fear of foreign terrorists, true. But we've been living here for just as long under the tyranny of our own making, be it dying of lung cancer due to smoking or contracting cancer due to some factory dumping hazardous waste into our drinking supplies. Or even dying of hunger. We have Americans who have no homes or plans for dinner. We've had mind-blowing tragedies in our schools and we had a bunch of nuts blow up a building in Oklahoma. We're not perfect little victims here. We have people who sneak into homes an d steal our children, we have people who murder people, who drink and drive and kill our family members. We have the Klu Klux Klan. We are not all living in a Camelot and then this happened and now the party is over.

And now Muslim-Americans are being attacked. This isn't fair, and neither is being mean to the fat kid on the playground, or the nerdy kid who can't do push-ups in gym. We're all Americans, but being nice to each other is not something Americans have been historically Anyone who has lived or even visited New York City knows that people do not look each other in the eye or treat each other very nicely Well, they're doing it now supposedly, but the fact that it took a tragedy is something we should be fearful of. It's hard to get along with family members, much less the world.

We're flying our flags and giving our blood and donating millions of dollars to the cause. These are all good things, these are all great things. We are Americans - we are spoiled and indulged and fat and lazy and beautiful and thin and we consist of every conceivable type of race and creed. And there's nothing wrong with feeling a sudden burst of patriotism or trying a little harder to get along with the brother-in-law or the neighbor who shoots chipmunks at dawn. But it needs to snowball, we need to love and accept everyone - for the only alternative is hate. And We've seen hate in action. This time the message was loud and clear.

If you have decided that all Muslims are one and deserve to be mistreated, then please read the following taken from the Urban Legends Research Center. And think.

From Western countries all over the world stones are emerging of Muslim people being attacked, spat upon and verbally abused in response to the terrible terrorist attacks on the US. on 11 September 2001.

Below you will find an e-mail written by a young Muslim woman attending a university in Indiana. She speaks about what it's like to be singled out for abuse and reprisals not because she is guilty of any crime, but simply because she is a Muslim.

Date: Friday September 14, 2001

Subject: Don't, ever, lump us together

September 11 was described as the Pearl Harbor of the 21st Century.

Yesterday I could not stop feeling like this whole day was a horrible coming home.

When the headlines in Pakistani newspapers announced (many times), "Indian troops gather at border," I was on the other side of the border, and my parents had seen the 1965 war with India. The 1971 war had taken place in our absence, when my father was studying for a Ph.D. in London, and I was already two years old. When the Iranian hostage crisis happened, I was on this side of the Iranian border. When the newspapers screamed "Soviets attack Afghanistan," I was there, too.

I was there when Pakistan was targeted repeatedly for terrorist attacks while Pakistan was the conduit for U.S. aid to the Afghan mujahideen against Soviet forces. Bomb blasts at crowded bus stops, unprecedented serial killings of unprecedented violence and brutality and increasing rates of drug addiction due to drug trafficking from Afghanistan were some of the costs Pakistan bore for helping America fight its war on a distant land. And Afghanistan, in the end, was what brought the dreaded superpower to its knees. Hard to remember, now that bin Laden has made Afghanistan his headquarters.

Now Charles Krauthammer declares in The Washington Post that Afghanistan is the enemy of the U.S. and war must be declared on it. Different Muslim nations, who were once allies, are being mentioned indiscriminately by media commentators as targets of possible revenge.

Jihad at that time was cool. General Zia with his Islamization policies was supported by the U.S. The Afghans were armed by the U.S., but they fought the USSR out of their land with the same spirit of jihad-a struggle against the forces of evil. To this day, Afghans are plagued with the impact of the war-in an appalling rate of disabilities, landmines, poverty, lawlessness and disorder. Did we pay attention to the Afghans when the Soviets were retreating and the Afghans found themselves free but traumatized? Or is it only when the Taliban started implementing their insane policies that we turned our gaze toward Kabul?

So difficult for Americans to imagine how it must be to live from day to day in the shadow of terror. We can't imagine the lives of Iraqi mothers who, because of U.S. sanctions, watch their infants die before their eyes. We can imagine the lives of American mothers fearful for their children's safety in New York. We cannot know how it is to grow up in a Palestinian refugee camp, to have family members who have been shot dead in childhood, to know the place that used to be home. We know what it is to look toward the World Trade Center and to no longer find it there. We don't know how it is to be herded together by Serbs, starved and killed in concentration camps. We don't know how it is to experience aerial bombings, together with collateral damage.

The terror is unprecedented, but Americans have no idea what it is to be "attacked."

Yet suddenly, yesterday, I felt like I did in a Third World country, full of economic and political instability, surrounded by turmoil. Life was suddenly unpredictable again. Suddenly, my husband's safety when he goes to work in D.C. is at risk. Suddenly, my cousin at the University of Maryland is not safe. She wears a headscarf.

Yesterday, a young woman (photographed in The Washington Post) was stopped and frisked by police because she wears a headscarf. The voice of a tearful Palestinian-American twenty-two-year-old narrated on a radio show how colleagues accused "her people" of committing this heinous crime. Two Muslim men- one of them is a friend - were beaten up in Chicago. Bulletin boards were spotted with messages of hate, racism and bigotry, targeting Muslims, Arabs, Pakistanis.

At the Islamic Community Center in San Francisco, a threatening phone call announced that a message had been left at the doorstep for bin Laden. The bag was full of blood, and the bag was labeled "pig's blood."

At my home campus, Indiana University yesterday alone six Muslim women were harassed. Two of them were physically threatened. All over North America, Muslim women who veil are being told to keep a low profile. Just like women in Afghanistan.

Muslims in America are doubly attacked. To the fear of terrorism is added the fear of undeserved revenge.

In all of the racist rhetoric against Muslims, Arabs and Islam, I felt like my name was being associated with Osama bin Laden and my soul revolted against that association. I am not bin Laden, I am not a terrorist, I am a Pakistani Muslim Sufi woman. I have spent years doing multifaith and intercultural work.

As we listened to television commentators and surfed the Internet for news, the hearts of thousands of American Muslims sank yesterday.

Pearl Harbor was followed by the terrible internment of thousands of Japanese Americans. Will the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon be followed by similar acts of discrimination and persecution against American Muslims?

Have Americans learned that their greatest strength is in standing together? Have they learned to differentiate between friends within and enemies without? Have they learned the lesson that the United States has taught us -- that we come from all corners of the world, that we are of all different colors and creeds, yet we are all united in our lives and loves in this homeland?

When you breathe a prayer of safety for your child in school, so does the veiled Syrian American mother in Virginia When you attend university and learn about allegiance, democracy, terrorism and national security, so does the young Pakistani American man at Columbia University. Your sister or brother who works in NewYork might take a cab driven by a Somali American refugee working hard to send his children to school.

The terrorists -- whoever they were, for it is hard to remember that we have no evidence to prove their identity yet -- do not differentiate among Americans, Muslims and non-Muslims. A Pakistani civil engineer works on the 42nd floor of the WTC, and spent about two years rebuilding it. He survived the first bombing, and now he has survived this attack. Arshad, a New York Muslim who was planning a trip to Manhattan, barely missed the attack. I could have been at the Pentagon bus stop.

There are difficult times ahead. Our family has to prove its strength under times of crisis. We have made huge mistakes in the past, but we must show that we learned from them.

Hate is what characterizes terrorists. It succeeds when it enters your hearts.

Islam means peace. Islam does not mean world domination, whatever bin Laden and his brothers may think. It does not mean fighting anyone who is not a Muslim. Anti-abortionists who blow up a clinic full of women do not represent all Christians. Israeli soldiers who shot Muhammad Durra, the young Palestinian boy, as his lather tried to shield him, do not represent all Jews. Osama bin Laden does not represent me.

I shouldn't have to say that. You should know. That's what your justice system is based on. I am innocent until I am proven guilty, and it shouldn't matter if a Pakistani is caught dealing drugs or a Muslim is convicted of terrorism.

I am not Osama bin Laden. I speak Arabic, but not with him. I pray five times a day, but not with him. I fast during Ramadan, but I do not break bread with him. I believe in democracy, peace, conflict resolution, the power of communication, justice and compassion. When you fail to cistinguish between him and me, you belittle American beliefs and you sabotage American unity.

I am a graduate student, researching minority educational policy looking forward to having a child in a few years, not a wealthy international torrorist blowing up planes full of men, women and children.

We miss our loved ones, laugh with our friends, take the metro to work, love a sunny day, bleed when you prick us. When schoolchildren speak in stereotypes they have learned at home or on TV, our children are hurt. We are upset when you send us a hurtful e-mail, we are afraid when you make threatening phone calls, we are poor when you will not employ us, we are glad when you say we will stand together and that you understand the difference between peace-loving Americans and terrorists.

We are your local doctors, your children's schoolteachers, your cab drivers from work, your neighborhood Seven-Eleven owners, your college professors, your colleagues, your-fellow students at school and university. We are not Osama bin Laden.

Don't, ever, lump us together.

Hate is what characterizes terrorists. It succeeds when it enters your hearts.
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Author:Madden, Lisa
Publication:New Hampshire Business Review
Article Type:Column
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 5, 2001
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