The 4-1-1 on 9/11
The backlash against Muslims after the 9/11 terrorist attack
This terrorist attack killed around 3,000 people, injuring about 10,000 people. The attack was orchestrated and committed by Islamic terrorists from Arab nations, backed by Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaeda, a terrorist group. The reason of the attack was apparently in vengeance against "America's support of Israel, its involvement in the Persian Gulf War, and its continued military presence in the Middle East" (9/11 Attacks [Article]). Members of the attack boarded the four planes, originally headed for California, and seized control of the flights, "transforming ordinary commuter jets into guided missiles" (9/11 Attacks [Article]).
9/11 and The Crucible
The Crucible's theme of how "accusations based upon faulty evidence arise and flourish during times of fear, uncertainty, and crisis" (Grossman) is extremely applicable in the case of the attitude toward Muslims in the US after 9/11. Following the terrorist attack, the FBI reported a 1,600% increase of hate crimes towards Muslim Americans (Khan, Ecklund). This directly relates to how fear and confusion will make people do anything to feel secure. In The Crucible, people were desperate to incriminate someone, to pinpoint a culprit so that they could finally feel safe again, as was the same with the attitude following 9/11. It didn't matter if the accused was guilty or innocent, but having someone to blame would mean that the terrible incident could finally be over, and peace over the occurrence could be found.
However, this incrimination can prove––and has proved––to have dastardly affects. In the case of The Crucible and the Salem witch trials, it cost people their lives. The townspeople became so consumed in accusations that it destroyed them. This can be realized when John Proctor states, "I'll tell you what's walking Salem—vengeance is walking Salem. We are what we always were in Salem, but now the little crazy children are jangling the keys of the kingdom, and common vengeance writes the law! This warrant's vengeance! I'll not give my wife to vengeance!" (Miller Act 2). This shows how fear destroyed the very fabric of the community, as was the same with the backlash after 9/11. Innocent American Muslims became the target of the blame, facing negative stereotypes and being watched closely. Examples of this include when a Muslim American college student's email was combed through by the NYPD, how the NYPD would go through Muslim student group college websites, and when an undercover agent made files on Muslim students and how many times they prayed (Friedersdorf).
People distanced themselves from Muslim Americans, as they did with the accused witches in The Crucible, afraid of being associated with the wronged. An example of this is when Hale expresses, "There is a misty plot afoot so subtle we should be criminal to cling to old respects and ancient friendships" (Miller Act 2). By distancing themselves from the accused, they made the offenders seem even worse, even more feared and despised. This harbored stereotypes, like those in Salem around women being witches and like the stereotypes in the US about Muslims being terrorists. Stereotypes like this generated hate towards the accused for no logical reason. These stereotypes grow and feed off of fear, until more and more people believe them and the accused have no voice. It is because of stereotypes like this that people began to think of Muslims as terrorists, typecasting people just by what they saw, without knowing anything about them whatsoever. The hate towards the accused, whether Muslim or accused witches, made life incredibly difficult, as stated, "Many said that they had been singled out by airport security officers and that people had acted suspicious of them or called them offensive names" (Morello). Innocent people were treated as criminals, just because of how they looked, dressed, or what they worshipped.
"9/11 Attacks." History.com. A&E Television Networks, n.d. Web. 05 Dec. 2014. <http://www.history.com/topics/9-11-attacks>
"The Impact of 9/11 on the Mental Health of Muslims: 10 Years Later." MentalHealth4Muslims. N.p., 2011. Web. 06 Dec. 2014. <http://mentalhealth4muslims.com/2011/09/27/the-impact-of-911-on-the-mental-health-of-muslims-10-years-later/>
Friedersdorf, Conor. "Was There Really a Post-9/11 Backlash Against Muslims?" The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, 04 May 2012. Web. 06 Dec. 2014. <http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/05/was-there-really-a-post-9-11-backlash-against-muslims/256725/>
Handwerk, Brian. "Remembering 9/11 With Indelible Pictures." National Geographic. National Geographic Society, 11 Sept. 2014. Web. 06 Dec. 2014. <http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2011/09/pictures/110908-about-911-september-9-11-twin-world-trade-center-towers-indelible/>
Khan, Mussarat. "Journal OfMuslim Mental Health." Attitudes Toward Muslim Americans Post-9/11. N.p., 2012. Web. 06 Dec. 2014. <http://quod.lib.umich.edu/j/jmmh/10381607.0007.101/--attitudes-toward-muslim-americans-post-911?rgn=main;view=fulltext>
Miller, Arthur. The Crucible: A Play in Four Acts. New York: Viking, 1953. Print.
Morello, Carol. "Muslim Americans Say Life Is More Difficult since 9/11." Washington Post. The Washington Post, 30 Aug. 2011. Web. 05 Dec. 2014. <http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/muslim-americans-say-life-is-more-difficult-since-911/2011/08/29/gIQA7W8foJ_story.html>
Obeidallah, Dean. "13 Years After 9/11, Anti-Muslim Bigotry Is Worse Than Ever." The Daily Beast. Newsweek/Daily Beast, 11 Sept. 2014. Web. 05 Dec. 2014. <http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/09/11/13-years-after-9-11-anti-muslim-bigotry-is-worse-than-ever.html>