As of this writing, the National September 11 Memorial Museum still hasn’t caved in. But the pressure is building, and it feels very familiar.
The problem is a seven-minute film being shown at the soon-to-open museum called The Rise of Al Qaeda. Narrated by NBC’s Brian Williams, it uses words like “Islamist,” “Islamic,” and “jihad” in reference to the 9/11 hijackers and their motives.
Some Muslim groups, and others like the Interfaith Center of New York, want the film edited to remove those terms. They don’t want the public to think that Islamism or jihad had anything to do with Al Qaeda or the 9/11 attacks, because that could foster “Islamophobia.” We’ve so been down this road before.
As a brown-skinned person with a Muslim name, I can get away with a lot more than you’d think. I can publicly parade my wife or daughters around in head-to-toe burqas and be excused out of “respect” for my culture and/or religion, thanks to the racism of lowered expectations. I can re-define “racism” as something non-whites can never harbor against whites, and cite colonialism and imperialism as justification for my prejudice.
And in an increasingly effective move that’s fast become something of an epidemic, I can shame you into silence for criticizing my ideas simply by calling you bigoted or Islamophobic.