Since the initiation of the Global War on Terror following 9/11, Muslims and Arabs have been on the receiving end of lots of hate, all in the name of counter-terrorism. The term “terrorist” became synonymous with “Muslim” in American propaganda. From our invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq to the Patriot Act and NSEERS program, our government has taken an active role in fighting these so-called terrorists, both at home and abroad. One could argue that the wars we fought overseas were terrifyingly harmful and pointless at best. In Iraq, for example, no weapons of mass destruction were found, but oil was. And perhaps our crackdown at home didn’t accomplish much, considering that no terrorists were caught through the NSEERS program. What’s worse is that while we were controlling the opium in Afghanistan our politicians labeled the Taliban as “terrorists”, only to end up withdrawing from Afghanistan and legitimizing these “terrorists” by giving them rule over the country. This in no way dismisses the grievances against the Taliban but rather shows the hypocrisy of the US in its foreign affairs.
Although the War on Terror has supposedly ended, anti-Arab and Islamophobic rhetoric still plagues our country. This is especially relevant now, with regard to October 7th and the current genocide in Gaza. The Council on American-Islamic Relations or CAIR has reported that reported hate crimes have increased from October 7th through November 4th, reminiscent of similar levels of hatred seen after9/11. Although the occupation in Palestine is new knowledge to many Americans, our government has been supporting Israel since its inception. Our annual donations -reaching billions of dollars -for the provision of free healthcare and other amenities to Israelis, along with collaborations on military and police training, and President Biden’s ongoing public support of Israel highlight the unwavering nature of America’s alignment with Israel. Zionist propaganda has many Americans equating Palestinian resistance to terrorism even though the Geneva Convention states Palestinians are allowed to use armed means of resistance -which further proves that Americans have been swept away by having anti-Palestinian and anti-Muslim sentiments ingrained in our psyche.
Average Americans are not to blame for believing that Muslims and Arabs are terrorists, but I would like to hope that Americans in 2024 don’t blindly follow the judgment of our government as they did 20 years ago. Time and time again we’ve seen the U.S. government use the excuse of terrorism in other lands to achieve its own goals. Perhaps it’s time that we reexamine the definition of “terrorism” so that we can realize that Muslims, Palestinians, and other Arabs as a whole do not fall under that umbrella.