Every September 11 is a strange day on social media. Twitter is already a mirror of vanity and asinine problems every day of the year, but something about September 11 makes for particularly nauseating oversharing.
Every tragic anniversary is met with elements of poor taste. Contemplation is often difficult within the shameless parade of amateur patriotic art, political slogans, and Vogon poetry. And it seems like every poorly written television series manages to treat major catastrophes as props to give a shallow plotline some emotional depth.
September 11 is treated like a big red "sad" button to be pressed for effect.
But not every narrative is the same kid of sad. But as it turns out, there is a marginalized type of sad. It is the sad that is not the sad on television. It is the sad muslims feel in the post-9/11 world. As it turns out, if there was a "World Islamophobia Awareness Day" it would be September 11 due to the tragic comedy that is the internet.
Every year, without fail, fans of Islam take to social media to share how Islam and muslims have been unfairly maligned or violently assaulted since September 11. And much of it is true - it's undeniable that muslims in primary school are familiar with Islamophobic slurs. And several people have been murdered in revenge killings. Disturbingly, attackers also have a habit of confusing muslims with members of the Sikh faith, showing that many of the most violent people are the least educated and the least deliberate.
No rational person endorses violence against innocent muslims. Yet at the same time, no rational person is being given a reason to believe there is an epidemic of Islamophobia, despite the numbers the media may provide. One could absolutely believe that the western world is descending into an abyss of Islamophobia and white supremacist retribution. Similarly, one could absolutely believe that Sharia law is coming to Kentucky. (Word is still out on how Sharia-compatible Kim Davis county is)
The difference is one group of people is eating Fox "News" hysteria while another is deeply enamored with social justice "math" (1 , 2) that aims to measure nothing but feelings and fears.
The reality is that muslims actually are the primary victims of Islamist violence - but not because post-9/11 anti-muslim animus is a threat. It is because Islamists typically injure other muslims before reaching the front door of the infidel. Islamists beat their wives, beat their kids, kill their neighbours long before reaching the jannah that is self-destruction in a bi-curious bar in Tel Aviv.
Instead of any true analysis of the situation, we're left feeling guilty that a backscatter x-ray machine is currently inspecting the nipple of a hijabi while a TSA agent gives her the side-eye. The climate of distrust is making someone feel slightly uncomfortable before reaching the Starbucks past the security gate. Boys on the playground with the middle name "Hussein" need to learn a better comeback. Imams need to learn how to rationalize scripture with modernity and convince a brother not to join al-Shabbab or ISIS.
Sounds difficult. Difficult things tend to marginalize people.
Time to do the privileged American thing. Create a hashtag, a Patreon, a Tumblr. Put the focus on yourself and start tweeting about how stressful high school is as you fight "the system". Inshallah the ummah will show up for you because the rest of America is soooo different and doesn't get it.
Nobody else truly understands, surely.