Very little can be seen of where one is going, less still of where one has been. The thick dark blanket of fog seems to have robbed our very confidence and the ability to think objectively. The broken white line that snakes in the darkness may help us find our way. This is a simple two step process. Firstly, a "retrospective look" at our reactions during last year to what is now popularly known as nine eleven. Secondly, a "moment's pause" before reacting to the anniversary commemorations. Before taking stock of past and present, let us make yet another record of sincere condolence and sympathies for the tragedy.
When the nine eleven tragedy took place, invariably all Muslim institutions and their leaders (rightfully) recorded sadness, shock and such sentiments. Many mosques, schools, businesses, web sites, not to mention some homes and cars displayed their camaraderie by hoisting American flags, banners, bumper stickers and everything else that mass-merchants churned out their factories. Not one but many Friday sermons were dedicated to this tragic event. Our entire ethnic media reworked its content. Public and familial dinner discourse began and ended with the talk of nine eleven. And all of this is but a tip of the emotional fervor with no precedence.
Some of the self proclaimed modern shuyookh consistently preaching all along that ... "America is essentially evil" had a sudden change of heart. Their new mantra is "we must redress the way we have spoken about others." This maturity of thought is welcomed but immaturity of character cannot be ignored. Discourse in regional conferences and national conventions of Muslims continue to revolve around nine eleven. Mainstream media are conveniently promoting "surfer turned moderate Muslim cleric," thus fanning the divide of so-called moderates and radicals. An excerpt from a west coast Muslim community calendar demonstrates the passions filtered down from the national psyche of Muslims in America.
- A Day of Unity and Prayer to Remember the Victims of 9/11
- From Tragedy to Transformation: Moving forward after 9/11
- Call to 9/11 Unity Fund
- Muslims to hold 9/11 Vigil
The tragedy of nine eleven cannot be undermined. But a compelling and bothering question remains un-addressed and thus un-answered. No one has ever heard of an anniversary of any other tragedy, let alone tragedies far bigger in size by virtue of sheer loss of life, not to mention other miseries that come along with tragedies.
- Genocide of Bosnia (over 300,000 Muslims massacred, including 14,000 children. 3 Million Muslims subjected to "ethnic cleansing", and became refugees, having lost all that they had, including, in many cases, their dignity and honor. (Impact International, Sep-Oct 1992).
- Massacre in Sabra & Shatilla (Red Cross records 2,750 killed during Sep 16-18, 1982 - although the real figure is thought to be much higher and may never be known).
- Ongoing genocide in Kashmir (82,826 dead; 101,426 children orphaned; 8,552 women raped; 20,586 women widowed; 103,333 houses/shops burnt (Crescent International, Aug 16-31, 2002).
- Starving & dying children in Iraq (500,000 children under five years of age are already dead. A child is dying every five minutes).
- Human rights groups put the toll from the riots in Gujrat, India at more than 2,000 (Times of India, Aug 22, 2002).
- Approximately 800,000 people were killed during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.
One may not even remember who was Jamal Durrah, or when did a bomb destroyed the pharmaceutical plant in Sudan, or how many Muslims were shot and killed while praying, by Baruch Goldstein? Over-victimization of one tragedy and under or none of another is an ethical disparity which is hard to reconcile. The persistence of memory stratification is unacceptable by any standard. Selective memory behavior is largely unnoticed, unremarked and unconsciously accommodated. Selective memory is a crime that does not deserve a trial but should head straight to the gallows.
Everyone is conditioned to behave and are made to shed tears without due knowledge of the crime perpetrated by whom and why. No conclusive evidence is presented to anyone but we are made to remember a drop of sorrowful tragedy in the ocean of forgotten tragedies. More had been done to others, more had been taken from others than one could consciously reckon.
Airwaves, press, school systems, colleges and universities are all overwhelmingly preoccupied and reminding everyone to remember and commemorate. It sounds nothing less than obnoxious when the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reports that "the post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among Americans is 3 times higher than the national average." This analysis is based on a (web) survey of a mere 2,273 citizens out of 288 million living souls in America. JAMA insults even more by adding that "these post-traumatic stressed out victims also include those who witnessed the event on television and were not anywhere close to the ground zero."
From the full basket of many mean yesterdays one wonders about the post-traumatic stress of the wife's, mother's, daughter's and sister's of the 8,000 men who were massacred in cold blood during another ugly day in the city of Srebrenica, Bosnia. Let us not strip our memories naked ... let us remember to remember the many mean yesterdays, not just nine eleven.