Hilal, I’m just now discovering your heart-wrenching story. The response of so many people in the wake of 9/11 to Muslims is a deeply terrible and shameful part of our shared American history. While racism and bigotry have been a part of our national fabric since 1776 in various ways, and while fear and terror were raised to fever pitch immediately after 9/11, that is no excuse. I believe now, as I believed then, that people have a responsibility to be better than that. Fundamental human decency took a backseat to “national security” in far too many cases back then, and racists and bigots were able to cloak themselves in the mantle of “concerned citizens.” As a society, America should regret and apologize for that, as we should regret and apologize for so many other things in our past.

I only hope that the display you witnessed in Minneapolis is a marker of a sea-change in the American story; a recognition that we have a responsibility as citizens of the earth to support each other, to defend each other, and, most importantly, to respect each other.

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