PG's Tips for Survival at the RHN

SIDNEY ENCOUNTERS PREJUDICE - in the wake of 11 September

Few people - including Sidney - have not been affected in some way by the horrific destruction of the World Trade Center, the simultaneous attack on the Pentagon, the seemingly pointless crashing of a fourth plane - possibly en route to Camp David - and the subsequent massive loss of life.

Reaction spread, not only globally but personally - one mirroring the other - but there was a pattern. This is so familiar to those who have suffered a loss, or who are grieving - experienced at first-hand by Sidney, though in a different context.

Firstly there came a feeling of shock, then disbelief - a form of denial. There were tears, shed unashamedly by both men and women. Tears soon turned to condemnation, which quickly became anger. Then someone had to shoulder the blame. For once God was not the obvious culprit.

Sooner than anyone could have imagined, one name was on everyone's lips: Osama bin Laden. This Saudi-born millionaire became public enemy number one. Known for his terrorist activity, bin Laden was labeled by President George W. Bush as 'Wanted - Dead or Alive'.

Sidney then witnessed an immediate personal reaction to all Arabs, whether or not they were Muslims, Christian, male or female - all were 'tarred with the same brush'. Here was blatant discrimination, as hurtful verbally as if a rock had been thrown. He could hardly believe his ears as the abuse these poor Arabs were immediately branded as 'probable' terrorists. It smacked of anti-Semitism; of 'blind' uninformed hatred of a race; of the judgment of all blacks as troublemakers; of all 'skinheads' as football hooligans. How can we be so ignorant to forget the lessons of history?

The last word comes from children. On a recent television programme, a young Muslim girl (aged about eight) said that Islam teaches 'Love, Friendship and Peace'. A young Christian boy said, "Why don't they talk together (instead of fighting)? That's what they (the adults) tell us to do!"

Written by Peter Gow
October 2001

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