how the world sees america

7-Eleven on 9/11

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Ali Khan grew up watching America from behind a 7-Eleven counter. Though his family is from Pakistan, Ali never questioned his “American-ness,” until 9/11.

Drinking Gatorade and listening to Tupac, we zip down the Hempstead Turnpike in Long Island, New York toward his 7-Eleven.

As a teenager, Ali felt at home here, slushing slurpies while listening to customers’ stories. There was the corpulent banker hooked on beer, the rebel hooligans with nerdy aspirations, and the two married men who met at 2 a.m. on Wednesday nights for surreptitious sex. Ali kept their secrets safe.

Outside work, Ali worked out, raced cars and chased girls. He saved up to supe up an old Mustang, which he took out on the drag circuit. Italian American racers affectionately dubbed him “Guido Ali”. At night “Guido Ali” found lust, dating a “smoking” Puerto Rican waitress who worked at the local “Hooters .” She dubbed him her “Amor Ali.”

Then one morning the New York skyline sparked and filled with black smoke. A day of numbness followed before “fear, sadness and anger” settled in: Fear of more; sadness for friends who lost loves; and “anger that someone had done this" and his life might change because of it.

Ali-With-Souped-Up-Cars.jpg
Ali with a suped up car.

Things started changing quietly. No one attacked Ali verbally or physically. “The regular customers knew me so well; they would never think badly of me,” he says. Anger just floated. Officer Cooksie took special care to protect Ali's 7-Eleven, but even the officer, who Ali had known for years, “seemed suspicious, on edge around me” unsure what to do with his emotions.

Nothing was overt. One Saturday afternoon in mid-October the hooligans came and conversation turned to tracking the Taliban. Having read some history, Ali joined the discussion and spoke about the difficulty of dislodging dispersed fighters in the Afghan hills. To this one boy replied, “Our pilots got itchy fingers and we’ll shoot at anything that moves. It doesn’t matter.” The group laughed and Ali joined in, tucking away his horror as he rang them up. He had never been to Pakistan or Afghanistan, but now more than ever he felt some connection.

Meanwhile Ali headed off to Baruch College in New York to study finance. There for the first time he started socializing with other Pakistani Americans his age. It was easy. No new nicknames; around them the pressure to fit in was off. Without realizing how or when it happened, Ali’s whole social network changed. His closest friends became exclusively Pakistani Americans. He has only dated South Asians since breaking up with the Puerto Rican in late 2001. In 2005 he went to Pakistan after the earthquake and shot an award-winning film about it called "7.6." Since coming back he’s picked up cricket, playing with other Pakistanis in Queens on Sundays; drag racing’s done.

“I felt defensive after it all,” explains Ali. “I felt like people expected me to apologize for something I didn’t even do.” Ali put up the American flag on his storefront and was careful with what he said, always trying to make clear he was with America, not the other guys. He carried his patriotism like a shield, but after awhile his arm got tired. Exposed, he was left wondering what it meant to be American after all.

Cricket-Ali-Khan.jpg
Then Ali turns to cricket.

“I want to be a community leader one day,” Ali tells me, “but I’m afraid I can’t do that here, at least not in the short term.” “Is Canada or England better?” he asks.

It’s getting late and Ali’s mom is expecting us. An ice-cream truck drives by, its jingle fading. We arrive to find the elderly woman in a salwar kameez sitting on the white steps leading up to her house. She’s a rotund, soft-faced woman who only speaks English when she has to. Little grandchildren bounced on her.

She’s raised four kids on her own as a single mom, arriving in the U.S. with almost nothing two decades ago. We exit our car, and assume our seats on the step below hers. She offers us sweet chai as Ali introduces our discussion on being American.

“Why would you ever leave?” she asks us, sounding suspiciously like my own mother who hates the idea of me traveling outside of the country she worked so hard to get into. “You can make any future you want here.”

I noticed then another form of patriotism opening up before us, not a defensive one designed to deflect accusatory arrows but an aspirational one, filled with the hope that brought these immigrants to America decades ago.

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Comments (61)

Bobby:

Ali, seems like u have become very insular in your thinking. This might be the reason you percieve yourself as you do and that others percive you this way as well. With you surround yourself with a group of friends from one background definatly makes you more narrow minded. Try looking up your friends from your neighborhood that you grew up with and reconeccting after all as u ponited out these were your friends before why not now.

LouisNYC:

So... Ali doesn't want to race soupped up cars but goes back to his heritage by playing a game that was brought to his country by conquerors?

Like Ali, I am an immigrant to the US. Of course I've heard idiotic comments from narrow minded idiots from time to time. But who says that is not the same for a heavy set white woman from Alabama or for a anglo British man who relocates to New York for his job?

To take yourself away from the multicultural experience that is America does nothing to asuage any ignorance you may experience. I do the opposite, when I am faced with a stereotype, I politely confront it and explain why it is baseless. I fing that most times, those comments are based on ignorance rather than malice or anger.

lida:

To Jack,

I guess if all Europeans think that real americans like African Americans and native Americans were killed by colonizers instead of thinking hey it wasn't me back then. Then people will have a different opinion about European American Racism.

I hacve yet to hear European Americans officially apologize for Slavery.

I hope you will relect before pointing fingers.

Also where have you been ??? Muslim Americans have always condemned acts of terror. When will European Americans condemn oklahoma bombing???

http://www.cair.com/AmericanMuslims/AntiTerrorism/CAIRFullPageAdvertisement.aspx

Lida:

To Patel Motel,

Don't you have some sheets to change and rooms to clean.
You miss the whole point of this posting.
By claiming "majority of muslims cheered the 9/11 incident" you only reveal who you are and what you think( that is so gujju-speak). By spreading hate towards muslims you are only inviting people to hate you because you look like a middle easterner and when you are targeted for a hate crime those haters wont be able to tell if you are a Gujju or a Middle easterner.


Doing the Dandia wont help you in that situation.


There is no end to you this nonsense on who started what and what lead to what.
Hindus killed Sikhs during their Khalistan struggle and Indian army killed thousands in Kashmir....you get my point.
retaliation leads to retaliation leads to retaliation.

Partition was a mistake in my mind and I think more hate was created as a result in the last 60 years.

I think time will come when India and pakistan will be one and gujarat will be declared a separate country.

lida:

To All Americans,
Please ignore the Pakistani and Indian comments/ firings at each other.
The fact is that they have never overcome the partitioning of India Trauma.

They have been raised up with their parents brainwashing them with Anti-Hindu/Anti-Muslim garbage respectively.

This is a phenomenom and I can explain it very easily. If the person is from Gujarat, India then chances of him being an Anti-Muslim is 90% because thats what they teach them and thats how they elect their leaders. Surprisingly muslim hate is no where to be found in South India.

In Pakistan parents who migrated from India tell their Children of the horror and genocide committed by Hindus and Sikhs during the 1947 partition of India. Hence their kids are brought up brain washed into thinking that all Hindus hate muslims which is not true. 90% Gujjus maybe but not all Hindus.


It will take another generation for this hate to subside till then .... we just have to wait.

Idea for Bakshi to write about this phenom...what say you ????

DOES IT MATTER:

Mohamed MALLECK, Swift Current, Canada said:

"YOU IDIOT.

This is my last post. I have no time for junkies like you."

Thank You ..Thank You ...Thank You!

Hope you stick to your promise. As such swift current will be freezing soon and all of your igloos will be sealed shut!

Mohamed MALLECK, Swift Current, Canada:

DOES IT MATTER,

I have told you: you are a hopeless idiot and you wil alwys be.

I used the US$10,000 (or multiples of that, I won't tell you) to purchase gold lingots at the time I made the offer. Gold was then priced at US$ 640 an ounce. Today it is at US$ 730 an ounce.

YOU IDIOT.

This is my last post. I have no time for junkies like you.

DOES IT MATTER:

Ali Khan:
Very best of wishes to your endeavors! May you succeed in your career and your noble goal of fighting terrorism through education! I hope you mean ijtehad by education. Not just literacy! We have so many “educated illiterates” in this world! I hope you question everything and keep an open mind and not cling to some words someone tells you to be “immutable”

Mohammed Malleck of Swift Current Saskatchewan Canada:
If you have $1000 to spend/bet on, there are many excellent business proposals that may interest you! These are mostly Nigerian opportunities. All you need to do is wire that money to those fellow Muslim entrepreneurs of your to reclaim some inheritance and they will share that recovered treasure with you. You could potentially make millions. Then you will have even more time at hand (even though, to others, it feels like you have plenty of time now!) to post your irrelevant and ridiculous posts on anything and everything.
In addition, with all that money; you can even buy full page advertisements in NYT and WaPo to rant; you can even buy time on MSNBC and CNN to rant! It will be “rant party time baby”!

Mohamed MALLECK, Swift Current, Canada:

Hey, JACK!

Wanna read the article below and we could have an exchane later today?

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Japan/IG19Dh01.html

Jack:


Maybe if Ali had looked at it in the way most Japanese-Americans, did after Pearl Harbor, believing it was "their" country that was attacked, instead of thinking "hey, it wasn't me who flew the planes into the WTC" perhaps people wouldn't have such a skeptical opinion.

I'm still waiting to hear a denunciation from the Muslim religious and political leaders.

All we hear is "hey, it wasn't me..."

XYZ:

Unfortunately, as long as the Pak establishment is not held responsible for its policies, any individual Muslim in any conversation or situation, can be instead (held responsible).

Off topic but at least Mr Bakshi didn't have to feed a monkey. :)

NEW DELHI: Wildlife officials were struggling to catch a monkey which sneaked inside the security area of New Delhi's international airport and forced the brief closure of the VIP lounge, a security official said on Monday.

The lounge at the airport was partially closed for more than an hour on Sunday after the monkey scampered through the international departures terminal.

Wildlife officials have been trying to capture him.

"They are giving the monkey fruits to keep it in one area around which a net has been put," the official said.

Mohamed MALLECK, Swift Current, Canada:

THEO,

Not all things are good to tell, and, in any case, one cannot tell all.

I am not going to go into this story of why I am in the West (not US!), I'll decide about that.

You mention about internal debate in Islam? If you had any idea how democratic Islam actually is -- there is no religious hierarchy in Islam, the Quran says "the best among you is the one who is most pious", that is why ignoramuses like Ayaan Ali Ayaan, Irshad Manji, Ibn Waraq and Tasnima Nasreen think that they are authorised to speak in the name of Islam and the rest of a world who understands no language other than might erect them as heroes. Next, Mahfouz --- I don't know whether you read Mahfouz's later opinions about the respect he has for the activists of the Muslim Brotherhood and their militancy for democracy as distinct from the perpetuation of the one-party rule that the US/UK encourages in Egypt. Next still, Rushdie -- At one point the bloke seemed to have wished to shake off his navel-gazing (he is always returning to the fatwa of Khomeini against him when al the world is talking about the 1.2 million deaths in Iraq and the financial disaster being visited on UK and US but also the rest of the world by the fiscal crime of financing an illegal war with ever-growing deficits.

Now, the cherry on the cake -- Ibn Warraq. I know an idiot, the editor of a Mauritian newspaper Imy country of birth is Mauritius, a small Island off the cost of Africa), a guy whom I have done so much to try to educate, who purported to inform me, with his air of KNOW-IT-ALL, that Ibn Warraq was, in fact --- yes, M.J. Akbar!
It's sad, but how pervert can one get? If you have an open mind as does Mr. Akbar and as I do,the devils try to enlist you in their diobolical enterprise. Believe me, I had also written an article for that guy's newspaper titled OH, GOD! in which I question what do we mean by God and I investigate some of the ideas being floated around by The Brights, Richard Hawkins, Daniel Dennett, Michael Shermer (but not idiots like Harris and the other bloke whose name I don't care to remember). When subsequenly, I expressed other ideas that are more eclectic, he was furious -- I am supposed not to beleive in God if I am a Bright. He is catholic and he is ready to kill you if you mention anything about homosexual priests.

Ah, well!

Mohamed MALLECK, Swift Current, Canada:

TO BEN-LONDON UK,

Thanks for your condescension, but I am doing very fine. I defend myself when need be, I help others when need be, for example African Development Certainly, my contribution has been significantly more positive than the buffoon who was your Prime Minister until recently and who ridiculed himself with MAKE POVERTY HISTORY when, in fact, countries like China, India, Saudi Arabia have lost hundreds of milions of dollars just because the purchasing power of their foreign exchange reserve holdings in dollars -- and, recently, Sterling -- have shrunk by at least 30% owing to the fiscal irresponsibility of the US/UK criminals against humanity who financed their illegal occupation of Iraq by ever-growing fiscal deficits and printing money. Read the damning judgement of Alan Greenspan in his book to come out tomorrow (Times of Turbulence) as previewed in news report in The Guardian as well as WAPO.

I hope that you are at least literate and aware of wrodl events. If you don't how else could you knoe right from wrong and be able to contribute to the betterment of humanity and fight injustice? All you will be able to do is listen to the lies of the buffons who pass for authority.

a rose by any other name:

Prior to Bush being elected, I informed a friend that I would move to another country if he became President although I believe that America is the best country in the world.

I am a naturalized citizen and when I pledged allegiance to the United States, I did so with the knowledge that our country promoted the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and that others before me helped to shape laws protecting equality regarding race, religion and sex.

After 9/11 I realized that there were not only people outside of the US who hated us, but within. It is so hard to become a citizen here, and yet, there are those who would abuse such a privilege and aid in the corruption of children, women, and men.

That said, I realize that for all the benefits in being an American, America is one of the most intolerant societies in the world which has fueled internal conflicts, resentments and the rising criminal element which is at critical levels all across the states threatening future generations and developments.

I think that we can look to Canada for a model in tolerance and diversity. However, perhaps it is too permissive?

The puritan foundation that was the basis of the United States has been a strong platform in which we have built this nation.

But rampant capitalism, greed, and self interest is destroying the basic fabric of our society at all levels.

I have realized the tragedy of 9/11 has helped our current administration's objectives and that in a way, the suicide pilots and the United States government are equally responsible to the current state of our distress.

God save us. I have given up on our leaders.

Will Jones:

Any good Americans, whether native or adopted, becoming alienated by 9/11, or otherwise, is doubly tragic because Bush and Cheney, ostensible "patriots," committed 9/11. All The People must require Justice that America, by its Mottoes, prosper.

Death for Treason

Braka:

Seriously, why is anybody writing 9/11 stories about racism/xenophobia six years later?

I'm South Asian and I, along with others that I know, never felt any post-9/11 related racism. In any event, its years later- please write about the here and now!

Theo:

The tragedy of the partition of the Indian subcontinent is a portent for what awaits Europe where the Muslim demographics will soon reach a critical threshold as it did in the subcontinent. Mohamed flails wildly at the West, where he lives, with his concerns over Christian and other non-Muslim theological interpretations and religious practices. What about the absence of any internal debate in Islam? What about the underground fearful existence of critics of Islam like Ayaan Ali, Irshad Manji or Ibn Waraq? Or even writers like the great Naghoub Mafouz or Salman Rushdie? What comparison is there to academics in the West? Human nature has changed considerably from narrow-minded religious fanaticism to a liberal humanist world-view, except in Muslim countries. 9-11 brought out the danger posed to humanity from another totalitarian ideology. One that is more dangerous than the previous blight, communism, because it is wrapped around a religion.

Drennie07:

As an immigrant myself (born American, but not raised here), I can identify a lot with Ali's subtle alienation and his reshaping of himself to accommodate both his American and Pakistani heritages. One must come to grips with who one is at some point in life. Adolescence is when it begins for most. For me, there were few choices, I was black, West Indian and American and still remain an amalgam of all of those things. There are powerful incentives to hold tenaciously to what is good in each heritage and discard what doesn't enrich your life.

I say, cherish you family and friends, make decisions in your own self-interest, don't make assumptions about how stangers feel about you and as far as possible, act with kindness and purpose.

You'll be alright....because I have found that nations, cultures, events and even religions change...but human nature never, ever does.

vedapushpa@yahoo.com:

Amar Ali's well thought-out travails towards
'daring to be himself' through a series of internalization of both American civic values and the Pakistaani[not 'Islamic'] cultural values is indeed the natural-most, mature and effective way for any and every 'citizen-immigrant'of the day..particularly of the multitudes of them in the US !
Ali's strength is in his willingness to 'face facts and make due pacts' !
My Hearty wishes for him and the furthering of his 'bon ami' Spirit !

Vedapushpa
Bangalore - India

Anonymous:

it saddens me to read the comments made by messrs:Patel and Malleck,which auger well with general concept that human nature has not changed through ages. It is these hard bickerings, which have through time resulted in man's inhumanity to man. sadly it all ends up as a gunfight at the OK Carroll! It all to do with one-upmanship! I am not surprised to read their comments as both individuals have their origins from the indian sub-continent - where religious feeling still fester intense polarities which ultimately resulted in 1947 brutal massacres. when will they ever learn!!??

Ben- London UK

Patel:

Ummm.... Modi today is highly respected as one of the most able administrators in India today. Gujarat has thrived economically under his tenure and even his detractors grudgingly admit that Modi will be overwhelmingly reelected as chief minister of Gujarat. Pakistan would not be the failed state that it is today if it had administrators who were half as competent as Modi. As for your "concerns" over the fate of the Ram bridge, I bet that you believe that the Dome of the Rock is where your namesake took off on a *winged* horse for his miraculous night-trip to Heaven. I wonder what "experts" think about that? People who live in glass houses....

Mohamed MALLECK, Swift Current, Canada:

Patel, Mahound, JS, JS?

Sorry, I was involved comenting on the news items about the Univeristy Professors (from University of California at Irvine and from Georgetown) who are having a hard time because they had the courage, one, to be critical of the White House, the second for having been more eclectic than Pope Benedict about Christian theological interpretations and religious practices.

No, I was not involved in the 9-11 crime against humanity nor do I condone it, or have ever condoned it. But, yes I can, and have EXPLAINED it. By contrast I note that you try to minimize the figures about the Muslim victims of the Gujrat riots; you still insist, without any doubt, that the train arson was a criminal act by Msulims although the final legal word on that is still not known. Narendra Modi is disowned by most of his erstwhile supporters because it has been shown that the politics of hate does not pay although the politics of bigotry still has some bite to it conisdering the withdrawal, today of a report by architecture experts about the Ram bridge said to have been built by Ram's army to link Shri Lanka to India.

One thing I can assure you of, as a Muslim and a student of game Theory: I will always give my interlocutors headroom to satnd tall; but for evry blow below the belt additional to what I can write off as an inintended mis-step. I shall reply in kind. That is the best strategy to secure the outcome optimal for one and all.

Bill:

I don't know. As a guy in my early late 20's, I've found that a lot of my friends have retreated towards an affinity for their own ethnic and religious groups over the last few years; this has been negligibly an effect of 9/11, and mostly an effect of whatever goes on in 20-something psychology. The Jews (especially the women, for whatever reason) start thinking about schul again, the Episcopalians go to services (but swear it's for the music), the Evangelicals start saying things that make me nervous (but are totally sweet about it).

I wonder how much is youthful exploration of diversity and the natural retreat from it that comes with the aging process. Or, at least, a variation on it.

Rajiv:

>>Guess what, Mohamed Mlleck, your name sounds like one of the 9/11 hijackers. Were you involved in the killing of 3000 Americans ?

Wow, that was a perfectly pitched repartee that left Mohamed MAlleck with a bloody nose.. I think he was asking for it. Good one JS!!

Patel:

Malleck: Since you brought this up, let's look at the real numbers of the tragedy in Gujarat (Gujrat is so Paki-speak!). Fifty-nine women and children were burnt alive in a train by a murderous muslim mob for no apparent reason other than that the victims happened to be Hindus. A terrible communal riot then ensued which led to the death of 790 Muslims and 254 Hindus - not your 2,000 muslims, and by no means a one-sided ethnic-cleansing like we have repeatedly seen in muslim-majority Pakistan, Bangladesh and Jammu & Kashmir. Not to condone any deaths, but let us not forget the murder of about 3,000 Americans in 9-11 led to swift retaliation in Afghanistan that led to many thousands of deaths there. There have been many hundreds of documented communal riots in India pre- and post-independence. Virtually every one of them was instigated by Muslims who attacked Hindus, many times for the most trivial of reasons. One reason that the Gujarat riots stand out is because Hindus apparently started this one, albeit after that horrific train massacre took place. This is unusual enough for Hindus to do (just like when a man bites dog) so as to catch people's attention, and for muslims to play the victim angle to the hilt; just as they currently do over the war in Afghanistan. Never mind that it was the loathsome Taliban who brought it on themselves in the first place. Like someone said earlier, it is time that muslims looked in the mirror in introspection and reflect on what they have become synonymous with. And change for the better.

booglede:

US ia an immigrant country and that is its unique strength despite 9/11 and the subsequent
complications. Post-9/11 policies appear to have
compromised its democracy and social coherence.
Ali' switch-overs are a conditional reaction to his temporary estrangement with his own country. It will pass over. He would be no Timothy Mcweigh.
US' image / credibility has been tarnished abroad over the last 6 years. All 'good guys' must repair the damage done like Ali' mother.

Mahound:

>>Guess what, Mohamed Mlleck, your name sounds like one of the 9/11 hijackers. Were you involved in the killing of 3000 Americans ?

>What a profoundly ignorant comment JS. Why even bother making it?

LOL! It is OK for Mohammed Malleck to dish out a 'profoundly ignorant comment', but not 'halal' for JS to return the favor. Islamic hypocrisy in action.

Virtually every act of terrorism in the 21st century has had a Pakistani connection. Is it then surprising that all civilized nations would view Pakistanis with deep suspicion? It is time that Pakistanis introspected on why they are viewed with alarm the world over. And if their reaction is to withdraw and ghettoize themselves even further, then they have no standing to whine about their sorry lot in here.

JS?:

What a profoundly ignorant comment JS. Why even bother making it?

JS:

>>>Mohamed MALLECK, Swift Current, Canada:
>>>
>>>Patel : Funny you sound like you or your >>>ancestors are from Gujrat like me. Were you >>>involved in the killing of the 2,000 Muslims

Guess what, Mohamed Mlleck, your name sounds like one of the 9/11 hijackers. Were you involved in the killing of 3000 Americans ?

Mohamed MALLECK, Swift Current, Canada:

PATEL MOTEL, ANONYMOUS,

Patel : Funny you sound like you or your ancestors are from Gujrat like me. Were you involved in the killing of the 2,000 Muslims --- Don't give me the crap about the train coach that was burnt; uncertainties surrounding that tragedy have still not been resolved; I agree it's taking too long, but it took longer to fully investigate the carnage in Delhi after the Air India explosion over the Atlantic.

Anonymous : "screw"? Are you referring to the Hooter's girl and do I detect some jealousy? I assure you that, in the 1970's, the girls used to call me a fag for not being too forthcoming. See, I am now 60, I am fasting, and I am proud that, all my life long, I have had only one partner -- my wife.

But, I love, really love women, especially those who have a beautiful soul, but I also fancy those with a beautiful body.

Anonymous:

I wonder how many people he has screwed in his lifetime of taking advantage of the America's freedoms.

Hemant Gandhi:

Ali,
Thanks very much for your reply, I appreciate you took the time to read and reply. While I must admit that I have feelings of antipathy towards Islam in general, I stand in favor of complete dialogue between Hindus and Muslims.
I read about your film, experiences and project in Kashmir (thanks, Amar, for the link) and my best wishes go out to you in your future.
-Hemant

Aslam:

Nice going Ali wish you best of luck
Aslam
http://www.diabeticcorner.com

ahmad razvi:

keep it up big guy, let's make the difference that we spoke about.. always

Darden Cavalcade:

Ms DK Jones:

I missed completely the news story about Ms Williams, her captivity and the crimes against her. I am assuming that Ms Williams is a woman of color. If so, the common denominator between McVey's terrorism and the men who terrorized and brutalized Ms Williams is likely White Supremism. And, yes, young white men who are white supremists should be considered potential terrorists. That's what they are.

When one lives among decent people of varied backgrounds, as I have done my entire life, one forgets that other decent people aren't so lucky. They are exposed to vile people and vile acts. I pray that you will be protected from such people.

Patel Motel:

Judgito, that "Middle Eastern" man that you saw was probably of Indian decent, and a Hindu - they dominate the Motel business in the US. Hence that look of shock, sadness and subtle fear. The Muslim jihadists have always include Hindus and Jews in their threats. Christians have only recently been included to the list. The majority of Muslims cheered, and at the same time claimed (1) that Muslims couldn't have been involved, and (2) it was a Jewish conspiracy.

Joe Yohka:

http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/dn/opinion/points/stories/DN-dreher_09edi.ART.State.Edition1.4235f88.html

Sadly the editorial above highlights an internal memo from The Muslim Brotherhood. In their own words, their goal is insurgency and overthrow from within... they want literally to establish an islamic caliphate in the US. very scary.

The Saudi's are funding mosques across the country. Meanwhile it is illegal for you to carry a bible there... they are asking for tolerance, while practicing intolerance.

Hopefully Muslim Americans who truly hold themselves as Americans in their identity can help to counter the extremists among us.

Judgito:

On September 11, 2001, I was on vacation in the South. Just after watching the plane hit the 2nd tower on live TV, I went to check out of the motel in Waycross, Ga.
As I settled my bill, I noted the hotel manager, a fortyish man of obvious Middle Eastern descent or origin, sitting in the lobby staring at the TV, with a look of shock, sadness and subtle fear I don't remember having seen on a human face before.
I think of his face often; this piece helps to clarify what must have been going on in his head.

Ali Khan:

RE: THE CELCUS

Thanks, My mother is the reason I incorporate positive enthusiasm.

RE: DOES IT MATTER

I have already made a decision I am starting my Masters in Education at Columbia University and started a nonprofit film/arts education organization(FoundationYI.org)(FYIProduction.com) that will build and promote Art Education in illiterate parts of Pakistan and "fight terrorism through Education", the only genuine way it can organically be removed, similar to my hero Greg Mortenson.

RE: PAPPY

1. Women I dated after her were more stimulating ( intellecually, and attraction wise )
2. I live in manhattan so no need for a car anymore, and you can't quite race in traffic.
3. Cricket is an intelligent and exiciting if playing shorter matches, both techniques and power utlized.

RE: MIKE S.

I was a careless fun loving person who evovled into a more conscious and analytical person by consequence not by choice....

RE: HERMANT GANDHI

I was the only pakistani kid in elementary school within a 85% cauasin community in, and couldn't relate much with pakistani immigrants at the time. AND Since I went back to Pakistan for the 1st time after 17 years for the Documentary in 2005 I didn't have any real experience or interest in how Pakistanis felt/percieved Americans.

RE: SURAJ

When your enjoying life so much you don't have to answer to anyone, but now I am enjoying it in a more intellectual manner and still proud of my pursuit of happiness liberty


THANK YOU ALL, I enjoyed everyones P.O.V's...


Dick:

The behaviour of the terroists can not be accepted, the horror for the victims and families un imaginable-but these peoples will have won not by the number of people they kill but by the way in which their actions divide and destroy the spiritual and cohesive values and morale of the society it targets. This is their true strategy or evil intent. The USA must recognise the value of its diversity as the best means of dealing with the post NY bombings. I live in New Zealand and even hear we are having to challenge rabid exonophobia and paranoia. The challenge is both to Ali and the rest of the communities not to be sucked into the maelstrom that these people want to see take hold-HATE

Ivan Groznii:

So what are we to take away from this? Before 9/11, Ali seemed to integrated into the wide fabric of American society. After 9/11, Ali started withdrawing from American society. Since Ali was at or near adulthood, these choices would be his own.

In the bigger picture, I was talking to a 5th grader at the pool yesterday. He wanted to talk about ancestry. When I asked him who he was, his response was "ABC - American Born Chinese." He was born here and has been raised here.

I wanted to tell him that he was "American" and, that in the end, his values will be more like mine than they will be the average Chinaman's. I wanted to tell him that, while he may speak Chinese, he probably speaks it with an American accent. I wanted to tell him that when he turns 18, he's going to register with the American Selective Service board, not the PRC equivalent. I wanted to tell him that, while his parents and other relatives may be from China, he is and always will be from America.

But, then, he's only a 10 year old boy. Let him figure it out for himself. So, I smiled and asked him if he liked Transformers or Power Rangers.

dk jones:

i am an African-American female & saw on the news yesterday(9/11/07) the story of Ms. Williams, who was ostensibly kidnapped, detained & tortured. this is not the 1st such incident in the U.S. of A. to affect the lives of all U.S. citizens of African descent. i became very angry & hurt. the incident could seem to declare yet once again-from a purely emotional place in me-that White Americans are vile, vicious, cruel & intolerant; however from a much more rational place-i know, love & care very deeply for the individuals in my life who are of European descent. i understand Ali's sentiment & his conundrum w/ regard to leaving the States-many of the finest mind & talents of my/our country left in the middle of the 20th century because they were Black & felt the sting of racism w/ it's spiritual bruising & the lynchings of their fellow dark-skinned citizens was intolerable/dangerous. to those of you in this forum who are of European ethnic origin i ask-when was the last time you felt the fear tear through you beacause some screamed a racial epithet @ you as you walked down the street alone-in broad daylight?

the incident involving Ms. Williams & her 6 White captors is a sort of reverse? microcosm of Ali/other citizens who are of Arabic/Muslim origin & many in the west who would view all Arabs/Muslims as terrorists. Ali, i thank you for sharing your story & pray that you stay here i the U.S. i need you here & so does this nation so we can all become better people, citizens, nation as we(hopefully) work to eradicate the negative "isms" that seem to have grown exponentially in recent years.

btw-a bit of a cynical point that seems to get forgotten-prior to 9/11/01, the greatest terorist act perpetrated against the U.S. was the bombing in Oklahoma City by Timothy McVey, a White male U.S. citizen & a former member of the U.S. military. so are all young White males to be considered terrorists? not as i've seen.

john:

Beautifully written, thoughtful and very moving. Keep up your high and exacting standards.

Suraj:

Hemant,
I agree. All Americans are thought to be evil by most Muslims and OBL and his cohorts continously tell us to convert to Islam (they already have 55 Islamic nations).
There are daily incidents of Muslim terror and terror plots. So if Americans look suspiciously at Muslims, don't be so surprised, my dear friend.

Abbas:

Great short moving piece of writing! Loved it!

hemant gandhi:

Was there a reason that Ali did not mix with fellow Pakistanis before going to college? I am assuming that he grew up in an immigrant neighborhood, not in an exclusive one.
Also, I understand his feelings ("I felt like people expected me to apologize for something I didn’t even do."), but, surely, he, being an intellectual, must have seen the reverse situation occur when Pakistanis people perceived all "Americans" as being promiscious, greedy, shallow, etc., and not as individuals.

-Hemant

JC:

You are fabulous Amar and I love you!!! See you soon I hope. :)
-JC

Austen:

I always find comparing the patriotism of 1st generation immigrants with their children to be interesting. The former worked very hard to get here. The latter have the challenge of fitting in while often upholding expectations brought over by their parents.

Both struggle to fit in, the parents looking within themselves, and the kids having to move between their household and others. How then do their views of patriotism differ?

Kids feel the need to adopt patriotism as a "shield" against difference on the one hand, while defending some of their cultural choices before their parents to help them fit in. The former is dubbed patriotism, the latter is dubbed rebellion. But perhaps we should look at the latter again.

Immigrant parents give a sense of patriotism to their kids in their high hopes for their involvement in America. Immigrant children define social liberties for themsevles in accordance with American values, and often pass on a different notion of Americanism to their parents. That give and take is part of the process of assimilation.

I'm rambling here, try to narrow in on my point. Ok, here goes:

A parent's faith in America as a land of opportunity is conventionally patriotic. It's easy to identify it as such. A child's rebellion against parental expectations brought from another culture can also be patriotic (to the extent that these values include things like social liberties for girls and what not). But it's much harder to call the latter patriotic. It's easier to say that resenting being labeled the other and fighting back or whining is unpatriotic, which we already hear here on the comment thread.

But remember these youth and moving between a rock and a hard place, and that patriotism is a nuanced concept.

Mr. Bakshi, unlike any journalist I read in the mainstream press, seems to understand the nuance of these complex terms so often bandied about without understanding. May we continue to explore them here now. I welcome response.

mike s:

Cricket looks like a cool game. Wish I could learn to play it, but there aren't a lot of opportunities lying around.

ROBT from LA

Not sure what you're getting at here, but here's my take. Japanese-Americans are among the most assimilated immigrant groups in the US, much more so than other Asian-Americans. Yet many of them, even sansei and yonsei, appear to have some defensive identification with their ethnicity.

I was surprised by Ali's transformation from all-American boy to self-conscious ethnic. (Okay, maybe that's a cartoonish overstatement, but we're all using shorthand here.) But I guess when I think of the Nikkei, it shouldn't be that surprising. Still, I don't quite get it.

pappy:

Ali,
First mistake:Dropped the smokin Hooters girl.
Second mistake:Lost interest in a hotrod Mustang.
Third mistake:plays criket.
Ali my man, wake up and smell the coffee before its too late!

Mohamed MALLECK, Swift Current, Canada:

NOTHING MATTERS,

You don't know your facts.

If I felt any self-pity, I would be scared to sign my name with full address and say the honest things that iasy, as fearlessly as, say, Senator Ray Mc Govern, or Howard Zinn.

But, let DOES IT MATTER take me up on my bet.

And, Oh! I won't go into the details of what I am doing.

As you know (or maybe you don't, but then again, don't blame me for that as well!) George Soros has an open challenge to George W. worth billions of US dollars that his folly in Iraq will cause a crash, and he will rake in the money. George S., unlike George W., knows what a real open society is (he has investments in Dubai and in Malaysia, both Muslim countries whose non-predatory business practices and peaceful nature he worships)! On a far, far smaller scale, I am salivating at my coming luck similart o George S.'s.

Are you as advantageously positioned as we are, or is it that NOTHING MATTERS to you? Again don't blame ME if you are not!

NOTHING MATTERS:

DOES IT MATTER, well said! There are responsibilities to being an American, and Ali does have a choice to make here. Mohammed Malleck, your examples make little sense. Too many Muslims in the West foster a victim's mentality and segregate into ghettos that separate them from their fellow citizens. Instead of participating in the open society that they (or their parents) fled to for opportunities, they wallow in self-pity and demand "rights" such as hijabs or worse, and call for sharia law to be implemented like in your adopted country, Canada.

Robert of Los Angeles:

If you take the German Americans for an example, were " exposed (and) left wondering what it meant to be American after all) during 2 wars, and now there is no separate ethnic identity except for Oktoberfest and perhaps different traditions for Christmas, etc

If you take the Japanese Americans as an example, they were not only singled out, they were put into camps as if they quarantined for a virus.
Again, the years have softened those horrible experiences including the sacrifices of the "Go for broke" young men* with rebuilt lives, a formal acknowledgment and reparation, and being a vibrant part of assisting new Asian immigrants in assimilation.

*100th Infantry Battalion and the 442d Regimental Combat Team active in the World War II European theatre. The Japanese-American Nisei warriors fighting on the side of American and the Allies earned 9,486 purple hearts and numbered 680 of their comrades in arms as killed in action. Their individual decorations for bravery include a Congressional Medal of Honor, 52 Distinguished Service Crosses, 588 Silver Stars, and 5,200 Bronze Stars.

Mohamed MALLECK, Swift Current, Canada:

DOES IT MATTER,

Hello, there!

OK! I'll take a bet with you 1 against 10. You'll gve me US$ 100 at the end of whatever time period you choose that Mr. Bakshi should 'keep a tab on this guy' in case he turns out like Howard Zinn, author of "A People's History of the United States".

I'll give you US$ 1,000 (or US$ 10,000 against your US$ 1,000) in case he turns out more like the California priest who was cursing the good Christian-American citizens of Latino extraction, calling Heaven to be his witness that if Jesus Christ spoke English then the Latinos should, too! Mr. Bakshi will agree to be arbiter, right?

DOES IT MATTER:

Ali has a great opportunity here! As a person who is comfortable in America and comfortable among the Pakistani-Americans, he could spend time in talking to the teens about the dangers of being brainwashed by the Islamist Imams! He could help the law enforcement in communicating with the Pakistani community. Reporting anything he finds unsavory. He could even join the law enforcement. I am sure they could use some Urdu speakers!
OR
He could foster the festering “I am a victim” mentality. He could join the thousands of Muslim intellectuals who will make excuses for the Islamists. He could start on the "alienation" path and become one of those western born Muslims who hate the west. And worst yet, he could become one of the unsavory characters!

Mr. Bakshi, keep a tab on this dude for next ten years … lets see which way he goes!

Alanna:

Ali,
Thank you for sharing your story.
Amar,
Thanks for giving Ali the opportunity to tell his story and providing him with an outlet in which he can share his story with the rest of us.

Beenish:

Very Cool...Congrats!

Steve A:

Ali Khan shows us why America is a great country. We truly have the best of all nations, ethnic groups, religions, etc that come to our shores. Thru not fault of his own he experienced a cruel reality check about who he is and how other people percieved him, without knowing him. Most of us stereotype to some degree. It's easy to do. I do it. I try not to. But, Ali Khan is a true citizen not just of the USA but of the world. He sees the good in people and tries to add value to this world. Where's the anger? He funneled it back to himself,relearning about his roots, undergoing a metamorphisis to a person that can help all americans and rightous citizens of this planet to unite and drive the evil doers away. Evil comes in all shapes and sizes, let's not hate for the sake of hating. Let's learn and get stronger and better. I'm an I.T. recruiter in NYC and technology is the great equalizer. Most IT shops are true melting pots. If Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Christions, Atheists can all work together to earn a living ,hopefully we can all work together for peace. Ali leads by example.

j:

Thank you for reminding us on this day what is great about our country and which ideals we hold close to our hearts

The Celsus:

This is a great commemorative piece! 9/11 changed so many things that it can be hard to remember how some things stay the same -- the reflections of immigrants who found livelihoods in this country and who still have hope in it, such as Ali's mother, are refreshing reminders of some of these constants. Afterall, this nation, in spite of its trouble past and digressions from time to time, was elevated to its current stature by the hard work of immigrants who made it their home and welcomed [...some ...] others after them

Anonymous:

I agree patriotism comes in many forms. Sometimes its exploited by politicians, sometimes its used by ordinary people to muscle one another, sometimes it's used to defend yourself against criticism and ostracism. Sometimes it's used to spread some hope. Thanks for this piece on an important day that's started slipping by unnoticed all too often.

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