“Are you Muslim?” uttered the man who asked me about the time first. I wasn’t sure what to respond at first. I thought of the taxi cab driver who was attacked in New York City after he was asked the same question.
It was about 9 a.m. when I was standing outside the Greyhound bus station, trying to breathe some fresh air before my bus to Philadelphia arrives. There was no one there other than the man, and it just didn’t feel right.
It took me another second to remember there were security officers inside the station. I thought I could be safer if I went inside. I finally said, “No” and stepped back to the station.
I kept thinking about my answer as my feet were driving me inside. I felt guilty, even though I’m not a practicing Muslim. I don’t fast. I don’t go to mosques. I don’t even pray. Yet something inside me told me this was wrong. On the other hand the voice of reason was telling me it’s OK. This man might have had bad intentions like that who cut the Muslim cabbie’s throat in NYC.
This fear did not come out of nothing. It all started earlier that day, around 7 a.m. on the Metro train. It was a Saturday morning, August 28, and I was going to the bus station to head to Philly. To my shock, the Metro train was filled with strangers. People you could tell were not from DC.
There were hundreds of them at the Metro station. The train was literally packed and I had to squeeze myself. I finally remembered that they all came for the Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin rally at the Lincoln Memorial. They started introducing themselves, coming from Maine, South Carolina, Ohio, etc and were all wearing T-shirts with patriotic signs and American flags on them.
As I got on the train, they started staring at me, making me very uncomfortable. They were talking about terrorism, 9/11 and healthcare. They were also talking about how free America is and how terrorists want to take advantage of that! All while looking at me!
I put my hands in my pocket next to my phone. I wanted to make sure I can dial 911 in case someone attacked me. Luckily, no one did, except that they gave me those you-stole-our-country looks.
All the way to Philly I kept thinking about what was happening in DC at that time. Thousands of conservative Americans gathering, listening to someone like Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck who hijacked the word of logic, brainwashing the crowd with their racist and hateful slogans. It reminded me of the time when my mail was open and thrown aside in my apartment building after the Fort Hood shooting incident and how some people would look at me before they decide to sit next to me or not on the bus!
This all kept me thinking about the fate of this nation. It makes me feel very sad. Despite all the difficulties and hardships I’m encountering in this country, I love it and call it home now. The last thing I want to happen is to see it descending to destroying the diversity that made it what it is.
However, I can still say that I’m glad not all Americans are like that.