The New McCarthyism

Hosna Haq

We live in an age where hundreds of law-abiding, tax-paying, flag-waving American citizens are questioned by the FBI, not because they are involved in subversive activities, not because they are involved in illegal trafficking of drugs, arms, or services, not because laws have been broken, property has been damaged, or criminal activity performed, but because these citizens have the misfortune of being Muslim, or Middle Eastern in an era that has been labeled the “New McCarthyism.”

We live in an age where murderers, child molesters and tax evaders face criminal punishment, but citizens who support any organization deemed suspect face not only criminal prosecution, but denationalization.

We live in an age where John and Michael receive a smile and a wave, but Mohammed and Ahmed are greeted with frowns, suspicion, extra security checks in the airport and knocks on the door from the FBI.

We live in an age when Arthur Miller’s fiction, The Crucible, has turned into a chilling reality, complete with witch hunts, paranoia, and fear.

We live in an age in which “terrorism” has replaced “communism,” racial profiling has replaced witch hunts, and in which the so-called Patriot Acts I and II ensure the continuity of such shameful acts through the erosion of the freedoms for which our countrymen fought so bravely.

We live in an age in which panic, fear, and paranoia replace rationality, logic, and tolerance, victimizing the innocent, intimidating the opposition, silencing the truth, and condemning every American to an existence deprived of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
We live in an age in which it is a crime to help the needy, in which the generous are rewarded with visits from the FBI, in which “innocent until proven guilty” has little resonance outside of the law books.

But we also live in an age of mass demonstrations, public awareness and empowerment.

We also live in an age in which concerned citizens make human chains around mosques, in an effort to protect Muslims and Arabs against a backlash, and show solidarity.

We also live in age in which anti-war sentiments can be seen on full-page New York Times ads, Centro buses, bumper stickers, front lawns, letters to the editor, tee-shirts, and sidewalks.

We also live in an age in which millions of demonstrators across the globe unite in protest, separated only by geography, but bound by a common humanity in global solidarity.

This is an age of revolutionary import, and we have a say.

In such an age we turn to the words of past leaders of the United States, the true leaders, the just leaders.

Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter.”
Thomas Jefferson said, “Our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry.”

Benjamin Franklin said, “Those who would give up essential liberty for temporary security deserve neither freedom nor security.”
We live in an age of change. Let us be a part of that change.

Hosna is a journalism student at Syracuse Univerity, and a member of the Islamic Society and the Muslim Student Association.