A Veil of Ignorance

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On September 11, 2001, Two hijacked airplanes crashed into the World Trade Center on the order of a man who believed that America was a great evil in the world. Thousands died and millions mourned as live footage of this tragedy was broadcasted live on all major networks. In the aftermath of the attack, it was only natural for the media and public to look for someone to blame. While some enlisted to fight in the mountains of Iraq, others chose to unjustifiably take out their anger on innocent Muslim Americans who were mourning the terrorist attack as well.

In America, Muslims have been the subject of many right-wing conspiracies and legislation based on bigotry and racism. I remember when President Trump signed into law the commonly known “Muslim Ban”, which barred immigrants from middle eastern nations from entry into this country all in the name of freedom and protection. This was criticized by politicians on the left and American Muslims who were cut off from seeing and visiting their loved ones for years. It would not have shocked me to see Trump support something like this based on the platform that he ran on. What did surprise me was the portrays in the media of Muslim Americans as monsters or time bombs that are waiting to be detonated to destroy the American dream. The “Muslim monster” was prevalent in movies and television shows for years. The character was almost always the same, a jihad spy that has grown disgusted with western, mostly American, ideal and has plans to destroy everything we in America hold dear. Until he is stopped by a cisgender heterosexual white male who vanquishes the evil in the name of freedom.

The problem with this portrayal is that we rarely saw a different side to Muslim people other than “enemy” or “suppressor”. Thankfully, in recent years the bigotry has been highlighted and confronted by Muslim Americans who have called for more realistic characters in the media. For example, one of my favorite singers is the musician Sza. She is an R&B artist that is comfortable in her skin with the outfits that she wears and the lyrics that she writes and sings but she is also very Muslim. She is as comfortable wearing a hajib as she is wearing a barely-there bikini. There is also the new sitcom on Hulu called Remy about a millennial Muslim man figuring out his life. While these are great examples of modern Muslims the type casting based in racism still exists. I believe that the inclusion of Muslim writers, directors, and actors can help improve the representation that millions of American Muslims deserve to have.

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