Let’s get those bastards. That’s a common thought of many Americans in the wake of one the worst attacks witnessed on American soil. The tragedy, which has created an extraordinary wave of patriotism, has also cultivated a seething hatred of those that would even conceive of committing such an act. The only problem is, many people have gone from pointing their fingers at the prime suspect, Osama bin Laden, to all Muslims and people of South Asian descent.

The first victim has already been claimed. Balbir Singh Sodhi, a 49-year-old Sikh gas station owner in Arizona, was gunned down this weekend. Police have stated that Sodhi was killed for no reason other than he had dark skin and wore a turban. As suspect Frank Sliva Roque was arrested, he shouted, “I’m a patriot, I’m an American, I’m a damn American all the way. Arrest me and let those terrorists run wild.”

Terrorist? Sodhi was an Indian immigrant of the Sikh faith. He lived in America and adopted the American ways of life. Only because of his physical appearance was he wrongly associated with the terrorists that attacked the World Trade Towers and the Pentagon. Many Americans and immigrants of South Asian descent are being lumped together and viewed through narrowed eyes.

A few incidents hit closer to home. An Indian friend of mine who interns in downtown D.C. has gotten suspicious looks from other people. Another Indian friend’s uncle was on the Metro and told by a “true American” to get off at the next stop or he would get his “f—ing head bashed in.” On the flipside, a woman I know was in Catholic mass when a Muslim woman entered the church. The Catholic woman panicked at first and only after the Muslim woman left did she realize that lighting a candle was her only motive.

I understand that America has been attacked and that we need to find those responsible, but in a country with so much diversity, you’d think we would know not to blame an entire religion or ethnicity for one group’s actions.

President Bush spoke yesterday from a mosque to convey exactly this message. “The face of terror is not the true faith of Islam,” he declared. “Women who cover their heads in this country must feel comfortable going outside their homes.”

If the contempt of Muslims and those with darker skin was taken to the extreme it would be reminiscent of the Japanese-American internment camps during World War II. It is episodes like this, in which an entire group of people is unfairly treated, that go against the fundamentals of our nation. Thankfully in this day and age, I do not believe the United States would allow such actions to happen.

Americans often marvel at how religious wars, such as the conflicts between Israel and Palestine, ever occur. They wonder how is it possible to hate a entire group of people solely because of their religion. It makes me extremely sad to think that we might not be different.

Jeannine Del Pizzo is a senior in the College.

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