I don’t know who you are, but I saw your meme on the internet. You superimposed the words, “Ask me if I care about the refugee ban?” over a picture of the Twin Towers bursting into flames. Immediately upon seeing this, I felt so much anger towards you, whoever you are. You took a terrible, painful day of my life, and you tried to use it to espouse your own beliefs and justify your own feelings regarding Trump’s executive order to ban all refugees from Muslim countries from entering the U.S. ― none of which reflect my own as a 9/11 survivor.
As a 9/11 survivor, I recognize that the refugees trying to enter the U.S. are trying to escape terror, not inflict it. The image you used, the one where the plane is flying into the first tower? Where were you when that happened? Because I was there. I won’t go into detail, mostly because it is still a little bit too difficult to recount my own story, but I will tell you that if it had not been for the kindness of others, I do not know if I would have survived those attacks, and I know that many 9/11 survivors would say the same. I was taken into someone’s home and given shelter as the towers fell and people all over Lower Manhattan ran for their lives. If I hadn’t been taken into someone’s home and protected by others, I don’t know if I would be alive today. Just like me on 9/11, these refugees are seeking shelter and protection.
I am a 9/11 survivor, and I am not afraid of Muslims or refugees, but I am afraid FOR them. I’m afraid for the refugees, who have faced many more consecutive days of violence and terror than I ever have. I am afraid for the people who are looking for safety and are being met with anger and hostility. I am afraid for the people who are being asked to answer for the crimes that they did not commit. And, I am most afraid for the people that are being made to face terrorism again because people like you have chosen to vilify them rather than reckon with your own fears and misconceptions about them.
I am not afraid of Muslims or refugees, but I am afraid FOR them. I’m afraid for the refugees, who have faced many more consecutive days of violence and terror than I ever have.
We have an opportunity to give people a safe place and shield them from terror, but instead we are turning our backs on them under the guise of safety and a “gotta take care of home first” mentality.
But we are not safe. You are trying to use 9/11 as some kind of proof that all Muslim people are not to be trusted, like 9/11 is the only terrorist attack that has ever happened on U.S. territory. But, that’s simply not true, and we as a nation cannot continue to ask Muslim people to prove themselves or show how harmless they are while we ignore the ongoing gun violence, hate crimes, and terrorism regularly inflicted by white men throughout this country.
We refuse to name white men as the terrorists that reside in our own backyard, whom we have given unending access to weapons, whom we have decided are not problematic despite all of the evidence, and despite all of the attacks. I don’t need to feel protected from Muslims or refugees, I need to feel protected from white men. I need to see that gun laws are being put into motion to protect us. I need to see that this violence is being acknowledged by our administration. I need our administration to disavow the violence and hate crimes carried out by white men, rather than encouraging them by remaining silent.
I’m a 9/11 survivor, and I want you to know that the only people that I’m afraid of are white men.