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Freedom of Speech …

on May 15, 2012

People come to America for one thing. They come to America because they want to live the ”American dream”. What is the American dream? It’s the house, the car, the full time job, the kids, the dog (or whatever kind of pet you prefer) and the freedom that comes with it all. America is known for the ”land of the free”, isn’t it? America is a beautiful place but it has it’s ugly days. One of the reasons I love America is that we have freedom of speech. In most countries, citizens don’t have much say but we live in a country that revolves around the ”people”.

We elect our Presidents and are given the rights to vote for all kinds of things. We can protest against saving a tree in our beloved neighborhood to protesting against abortion. That’s the country that we live in and that’s why it’s so fabulous. But sometimes fabulous America isn’t all that fabulous. It has its moments where the people turn ugly and against each other. We start to cause problems within our circles and abuse  our freedom of speech by hurting other peoples feelings. What stuck to me and always hits home to me in this documentary was when we examined the story of Debbie Almontaser. She is a Yemani-American Muslim veteran in the New York City school system and the founder of the first Arabic-English public school and was the principal of it. She was forced to resign in 2007 because she cited the word ”Intifada” which meant different things as time progressed from ”shaken off” to ”uprising”. Officials wanted her fired because they didn’t believe she should be a principal of a school that promoted violence. As time goes on, the meaning behind certain words change and in this case that is what happened. It all depends on how you perceive the word. She filed a lawsuit claiming her First Amendment was violated. I believe that if she wasn’t a Yemani-American Muslim that didn’t have the appearance of a Muslim she probably wouldn’t have been forced to resign. American Arabs get blamed and put in the same category as Extremists because of their appearance and religious beliefs. Most people believe that all Muslims are ”terrorists” which is not true at all. “Virtually all terrorists today, are Muslim. This is a sad fact.” And it is a sad fact. We all put labels on each other all because of what Extremists have done in the past. It’s like saying all Germans are Nazis or all Jewish people are cheap. Putting a stereotype or a label on a person is bad judgement and is wrong in so many ways. This poor lady lost her job for something that was taken way off guard and out of hand. Just because she’s Muslim and looks like the typical Muslim. All she wanted to do was her job and being that the school was a public school that was open to students who wished to learn Arabic it was a problem, especially since the school was made post 9/11.

Like I’ve said in my earlier class posts, American Arabs get blamed for what others do, it’s a stereotype that will never go away. I have blonde hair and hazel green eyes, most people would never think that I am Muslim. They hardly ever believe that I am. But I am. I don’t eat pork and I celebrate all of the Muslim holidays with my family. If it were me instead  of Debbie, things would probably be different. Freedom of Speech is a big deal in today’s society because it keeps us growing and fighting for what we believe in. If we didn’t have Freedom of Speech then we’d have nothing at all but a boring country. In a post 9/11 world, anything said or done by a muslim living in America is a threat to society. Americans have this stereotype of Muslims in America that will never go away because of 9/11. Debbie’s son fought for the country of the United States. It’s ironic how they would treat her in a way that made her feel less than whole. America is full of diverse ethnicities and that’s what’s so beautiful but the way we treat one another after something like 9/11 can make it so ugly. Everyone likes to point a finger but there’s always three pointing back.

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