It has been 16 years since the United States was changed forever. Because of the terror attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, American perceptions of an entire group of people experienced a paradigm shift. Not only did American views shift, so did our treatment of certain people.
9/11 snatched the unaware and reeled them in. Suddenly, millions of people were now paying attention to other religions. Before, the invisible remained unseen. Now, desperation punched people in the gut.
“I didn’t know much about the Muslim religion until after 9/11,” Sabra Arnold, Manhattan resident, said. “I have learned a few things that are happening in Europe because of it. I always try to treat everyone fairly until I get to know them, but because of 9/11, I am more conscious of what is going on. This affects our country and our people negatively.”
Arnold also said she understood an entire group of people was not responsible for the destruction on 9/11.
“I don’t blame Muslims for 9/11,” Arnold said. “I know there are just a few hateful groups involved. That goes for any country.”
Meanwhile, perceptions have not changed for some people.
“I react normally when I see people of Muslim culture because they are pretty much like anybody else,” Mike Rotondo, Manhattan resident, said. “I do take notice to those in a hijab, but I would do the same if I saw a nun, priest, rabbi, Hasidic or Amish walking along the street. Anyone in religious dress will always catch the eye and cause a double take, and yes, with any of those people, subconsciously I think about their religious standing. Everyone’s the same, unless their actions say otherwise.”
Rotondo said he is aware of the dramatic shift our country has went through as well.
“Unfortunately, groups of people have been treated differently,” Rotondo said. “Racial profiling is at an all-time high. People see people of color, Middle Eastern, Asian descent and automatically assume ‘terrorist’ or ‘extremist.’ Many people now see Islam as a religion of terror. In reality, many Muslims see those who commit such acts of violence and horror as a subhuman piece of garbage.”
Madeline Wilson, sophomore in gender, women and sexuality studies, said she agrees with the idea that all Muslims are not to blame for the actions of a few.
“Anyone who is practicing the Muslim religion or appears to be from the Middle East is often stereotyped, especially by more radical conservatives,” Wilson said. “Islamophobia is evident in how women in hijabs are harassed in public, how Islamic religions don’t get the same recognition as Christian religions. Mosques receive regular bomb threats — I’m sure that includes the one here in Manhattan.”
Just because 16 years have passed since the tragedy doesn’t mean that the event has faded from people’s minds. In fact, it is more relevant than ever.
9/11 has taught Americans to be extra wary. Not only did American views shift, so did our way of life. The poor treatment of groups of people have escalated, and racial profiling is at its peak.
However, Americans understand that it is not an entire religion causing trouble. Rather, it is a group of extremists, which any country or religion is prone to have.
Tori Wiegers is a junior in mass communications. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian. Please send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.