I don’t have a lot of good things to say about President George W. Bush. However, if there’s one thing he got right, it was in a speech following 9/11 when he said:
The face of terror is not the true faith of Islam. That’s not what Islam is all about. Islam is peace. These terrorists don’t represent peace. They represent evil and war.
It was a message people needed to hear but they weren’t listening. To be fair, if the policies enacted by the Bush administration are any indication, Bush wasn’t listening to himself. That said, we would all do well to heed those words today.
Much has been said about the rights sacrificed in the name of security back then, but we gave up a large chunk of our humanity as well. Violence against people who fit the Western view of what a Muslim looks like soared, causing many to fear for their lives. Overt and thinly veiled prejudice against the same population ran rampant. And now, in the wake of the Paris attacks, people aren’t even pretending not to be bigots anymore.
This goes far beyond talk of Muslim registries, IDs, and internment camps. It’s in everyday life — including, it seems, during travel. All those warnings you hear in the airport about reporting suspicious behavior? It turns out speaking Arabic is suspicious enough for Southwest Airlines to be alarmed.