Wednesday, May 7, 2008

A tale of two nations

I try not to go around complaining about being a minority in America. But some things really get to you and they have to be shared. There was a time in high school when a couple of punks started picking on me for being a Muslim. The usual stereotypes were used (not worth mentioning here). I am a timid guy and try to avoid confrontation. So I tried reasoning with them, trying to explain to them why me having a nuclear arsenal in my basement would be impossible.

But they would not let up. To add insult to injury they started picking on me for being an Asian. At that point I became shocked I didn't know what to say in face of such stupidity. Luckily a few bystanders decided enough was enough and came to my aid. I am grateful for that but let me tell you that experience has stayed with me. I mean it's not like I can suddenly stop being Asian or a Muslim. Anyway all I could do was pray for them. Maybe God will give them a chance to use their frontal lobes, find out what it feels like to use a fully developed brain.

Now this was pre 9/11 during the clinton administration. Things have gotten worse. My uncle had to pull my cousin out of public school because he was being teased above and beyond what a sixth grader should face. He was transferred to an Islamic school. Others were not so lucky. I remember reading a report about an Arab child who committed suicide after his classmates picked on him just because his name happened to be Osama. This is absolutely heart wrenching and should not be happening.

When I moved to Pakistan I was in the majority. In that position I could pick on minorities and get some petty revenge. But what would be the point? Hate is a double edged sword that slices at the heart of oppressor and the oppressed. I decided to embrace my Hindu and Christian brethren. I go out of my way to socialize with them. It does me good to see them happy and content.

I can already hear the complaints coming in. I am not saying that everything is rosy. Certainly they face discrimination when applying for jobs but for the most part they are integrated with society. If you listen to Christmas mass in a Pakistani church you will most likely hear prayers for the betterment of the nation. In retrospect you hear the same thing in an American Mosque on Eid-ul-Fitr. So maybe things can change.
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