Tragedy Sparks Widespread Racism!

9/11's effect on the American image of the Middle Eastern

We Will Always Remember

It was a Tuesday, September 11, 2001, that the United States experienced a devastating terrorist attack. Early that Tuesday morning, a group of nineteen men; all originally from Afghanistan, hijacked four planes at various airports in the north-eastern United States.

Two of the Hijacked air-craft made their way to New York, and ultimately crashed into both the north and south towers of the World Trade Center. Another plane flew into the Pentagon, destroying an entire wing of the complex and killing over a hundred people. Finally, the Fourth plane was hijacked marginally later than the other three, and passengers aboard diverted the hijackers plan, and crash-landed in a field in western Pennsylvania.

2996 people were killed in the 9/11 attacks, including those aboard the hijacked vehicles, or in (or around) the target structures.

The Greater Societal Impact

This was a devastating attack. An attack that not only successfully killed thousands, but also managed to spark a long standing racial hatred of the Middle Eastern people and their religion; a hatred that as Americans felt that their security was at stake. This event impacted the lives not only of those who lost loved ones in the attack but the general public within the country and throughout the world.

People of Middle Eastern descent or originally from the Middle East soon became accustomed to long stares and disapproving glances from even regular U.S Citizens. Much like people associated with witchcraft in The Crucible, The Islamic community in America was being publicly discriminated against, and in most cases irrationally.

The Crucible Background Info; A Foundation for Something Awful

Relating this incident to The Crucible is easier than one might imagine. In both the instances of the 9/11 attacks, and the events of the Salem Witch Trials depicted within The Crucible, a terrible tragedy sparks widespread racism and the prosecution of, or at least prejudice against many innocent people. In The Crucible, the event which sparks this widespread hysteria is the supposed 'bewitching' of the daughter of Reverend Parris, the controversial new head minister in Salem. This initial incident leads to one person after another accusing others of witchcraft. Referring to Salem, Elizabeth, (The wife of the main protagonist, Proctor) says "The towns gone wild, I think." (Miller 1055). Elizabeth goes on to inform Proctor, (Referring to the defendants) "That The Deputy Governor promise hangin' if they'll not confess, John." (Miller 1055). The Court's primary source for evidence against the defendants, is spectral evidence that can only be described as glorified screaming. "I saw George Jacobs with the Devil! I saw goody Howe with the Devil!..." Etc. (Miller 1048) This court-backed insanity comes from the a group of girls, lead by Abigail Williams, (the antagonist), that originally summoned the devil with the daughter of Reverend Parris; Betty. These girls, while ruining the lives of many innocent people, are at the same time avoiding punishment by accusing others. This ruthless practice of accusation is allowed by none other than the head judge, Danforth, whose arrogance gets in the way of his practice. "While I speak God's law, I will not crack its voice with whimpering." (Miller 1102). As Danforth says this, he is responding to the recent questioning of the Courts judgements made against those already dead or accused; saying that there is no way that a God-driven court has made such errors of wrongful and untruthful accusations.

Comparisons with The Crucible

It is undeniable that there are similarities between the irrational and all-consuming fear of witches in The Crucible and the scapegoating of Muslim American Citizens post 9/11.

Throughout The Crucible the characters of authority in Salem, (Parris, Danforth, and early on Hale) all managed to cause this terrible ostracizing of people deemed witches, by the authority figures themselves. Danforth, the lead judge of the trials says "...Do you know Mr. Proctor that the entire contention of the state in these trials is that the voice of heaven is speaking through these children?" (Miller, 1077). The trials in Salem were no joke, and if your name was brought up once it could have devastating consequences. Danforth was essentially the ruler of Salem, as many people refused to question that the voice of heaven was in fact speaking through the accusers themselves. This refusal to question the court was backed up by Danforth and his authority as he says "I will not receive a single plea for pardon or postponement. them that will not confess will hang. twelve are already executed; the names of these seven are given out, and the village expects to see them die this morning." (Miller, 1102). Nobody could publicly question the court or Danforth himself, even though most knew of its corrupt and murderous nature.

Later that Tuesday night The Bush Administration, addressed the Nation with a somewhat reassuring message although containing a clear "we are gonna get the guys who did this," undertone. "We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them..." "...we stand together to win the war against terrorism..." (The Bush Administration, 9/11 Address). These direct quotes could easily be interpreted by some to mean different, more violent and racist things. For example, "we will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them," suggests that any Muslim could be a terrorist and we need to hold them responsible for 9/11, as the President implied they certainly could be. The way in which terrorists were accused from here on out was irrational, and wholly unfair, as it usually involved racial profiling or circumstantial evidence As you can imagine, being alive at this time was a very delicate situation for Muslims.

This delicacy of life- the thought that something could completely change your life in a matter of minutes- is completely paralleled throughout the whole of The Crucible. This is what the entire story feeds off of, the chaos that ensues the girls dancing in the woods. It is then, the girls who committed an act as destructive to their own society as 9/11 was to America. They are the few 'terrorists' or 'witches' that cause unrest. Abigail even indirectly admits to it: "...We Danced. And Tituba conjured Ruth Putnam's dead sisters. And that is all." (Miller 1034). This shows that she did infact do it.

Works Cited

"9/11 Attacks." A&E Television Networks, n.d. Web. 08 Dec. 2014.

"9/11 Interactive Timelines." 9/11 Memorial Timeline. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Dec. 2014.

Administration, Bush. "Text of Bush's Address." CNN. Cable News Network, n.d. Web. 06 Dec. 2014.

Ecklund, Kathryn, Dr. "Journal OfMuslim Mental Health." Attitudes Toward Muslim Americans Post-9/11. Azusa Pacific University, 2012. Web. 06 Dec. 2014.

Miller, Arthur. The Crucible: A Play in Four Acts. New York: Viking, 1953. Print.