Are You A Terrorist?

Lady Gaga wore a hijab… and expected applause.

hijabOr maybe she excepted some type of “solidarity” or a pat on the back? I’m not sure… but as far as I’m concerned, I didn’t appreciate her exploiting a population of people she doesn’t have any affiliation with just for shock value. Keep your “controversies” to yourself.

I’m Muslim, but I don’t claim to represent a generation of Muslim Americans and I certainly don’t view myself as a religious person. But for some reason… non-Iranians/non-Muslims think its okay to call me “Muslim” when I get angry about something or a “terrorist” because Iran is in the news everyday.

I’ve lived in Washington, DC for a little over two years now and the amount of racism/discrimination I’ve experienced is far more than anything I’ve dealt with living 23 years in California.

shAnd that’s shocking, right? You would think living in the capitol of the United States – where Congress, Senate, White House, NGO’s, foreign policy organizations, etc. are located would house a population of well-educated individuals who would know better.

My usual reaction is just straight-faced, cordial – an “Um … Yeah… not down.” And I get the response “Awww you know I’m joking I know you’re not a terrorist.”

What people don’t seem to understand is that when you’re calling me a “terrorist” or a “crazy Muslim”…

You’re categorizing me with extremists. Extremists whom I’ve never met or have any desire to be affiliated with. You’re discriminating against me because I’m different than you. And somehow that’s supposed to be funny?

As if my anger is any different than someone who is NOT Muslim or Iranian.

As if my heritage is any less worthy than an Italian or Greek person’s.

Why am I expected to just “understand the joke?” To just take it?

If we’re going to get technical here – my ancestors have been here far longer and have contributed far more to math, science, and life in general than someone whose ancestors came over on the Mayflower #sorrynotsorry. But you don’t see me lecturing people on their inability to understand trigonometry or their lack of knowledge on ancient history.

Because God forbid, I ever talk shit about someone who is white.

piI’m really lucky that most of my non-Iranian friends are logical enough to understand the ramifications of generalizing a group of people based on extremist fundamentalists – but there’s always one douchebag who takes it too far.

I feel like some people can’t understand why it’s wrong to make these generalizations because they don’t have any experience to compare it to. They probably have not been discriminated against because of their race/religion/background and so they just think they’re being funny.

Even in the United States – when an act of terrorism happens, we sit here praying that the perpetrator isn’t Muslim/Middle Eastern. And when it is a white person – media here claims that their actions are based off of a mental disorder (remember SandyHook?).

I’m as anti-terrorist as they come… yet somehow that makes me a terrorist? Sorry, I don’t get it.

So to all those randoms that think it is funny/appropriate to call me a terrorist…

Back. The. Fuck. Up.

What do you guys think – is this a joke on me or do I have a right to be mad?






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  1. You know who this is says:

    Are you kidding? DC at least draws people in from all parts of the globe/country so it’s diverse. Wait till you move to any other east coast city. Even New York, bc it’s so european-leaning in culture, has no room for people like you and me.

    • That’s very very true! Which is why I made sure to make the distinction that NOT everyone makes these comments :)

      This has just been my experience when comparing my life in California to my life in DC. I think that no matter where you live, no matter what kind of people there are – there will always be some type of discrimination because you just can’t escape that ever.

      I’ll choose to only visit those other east coast cities ;) Cracker Barrel here I come. #chickendumplingsbaby


    • Using ‘European-leaning’ as an insult or ‘reason’ for the culture of exclusion is a bit inaccurate. I speak as someone living smack in the middle of Europe, and not originally European. I feel included.
      I think you probably should have cited the American ‘reconstruction’ of European culture for uses within their own identity…even as a barrier for inclusion/exclusion on grounds of race.

      Can’t fight exclusion with scapegoating. ‘Europe’ (as an imagined space) is not to blame for America’s shortcomings on inclusiveness. Unless you argue cultural transfer, in a little more detail.

      • You know who this is says:

        Em, I think you’ve missed the point. By European-leaning I meant white. My mistake for using too PC language. Look at the wedding pages of the NYT for example: it’s almost all white.

        Compare that with the wedding pages of the LA times or Chicago papers and you’ll see a huge difference.

        Same with the elite social clubs: those in LA or Chicago or Seattle or Dallas probably include non-white folks. Obama moved to Chicago for a reason.

      • You know who this is says:

        PS. Are you really arguing (a) Europe has a coherent identity across all nations that supersedes national identities and that (b) that identity is more inclusive of non-Europeans than American identity?

        Exhibit A: turkey not being let into the EU after starting membership talks in 1985. Ex Soviet nations, some with worse adherence to EU benchmarks than Turkey, began talks in 1991-1995 and were in by 2005

        Exhibit B: Massive rioting by ethnic Muslims in France

        Exhibit C: banning minarets in tolerant Switzerland

  2. As another fellow ethnically Middle Eastern living in DC, I feel that sadly this post has some partial truth. Although DC draws an international audience, you have a wider range of Americans infiltrated in this small district whom haven’t had the opportunity to actually engage with a diverse group of people. They might not have been exposed or have their guard up towards a group of people; based on race/ethnic background. So I feel like I am a teacher for my ethnicity. The best question is “What are you?” I am like I am an American.. The best part is “No I know you are an American, but you look exotic, you know different?”. WTH does that have to do with my job/credentials.

  3. I am a white American and find it appalling. When I was in the Middle East (Turkish, Kurdish and Arab regions) not once was I demonized; on the contrary actually. I tried to visit Iran and even though I couldn’t get the visa then and there the Iranians I dealt with were incredibly friendly. I even spent the night with several Iranians who worked for the Iranian embassy in Ankara and, surprise surprise, were incredibly friendly. So why is it that my countrymen treat them like shit?

    At my old job when I worked in retail I was assisting a mother and her son with shoes. She was speaking on the phone in Farsi and I excitedly asked them which part of Iran they were from. They hesitated, felt as if I was invading their privacy and “blowing their cover”. I was so excited, as the nerd I am, to hear that they were from Isfahan but for them it was uncomfortable. With time they opened up to the friendly Persians that they were but how sad is it that they felt the need to hide their Persian pride?

    Thanks for this post, I’ll be sharing via social media.

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