George walked into my store on Saturday with one of those smiley face Wal Mart stickers on his shirt. He was an older man accompanied by a younger man (closer to my age) who was talking on the phone. I rang the younger man for a drink and a bagel, and then George ordered a bagel too.
I asked if he wanted a knife. (to cut his bagel and smear his cheese)
Shocked, he replied, "NO!" and then, "We are not Terrorists!"
I looked at him, puzzled, and replied, as I held up a plastic knife, "Well, if you were, I doubt you could do very much damage with this!"
He accepted the knife, explaining that he thought I was asking if he had a knife. He thought that since he was of middle eastern decent, that I assumed the worst about him. He also asked if people didn't come in with knives.
Now I don't know about that, and it's none of my business if they do. Heck, I carry scissors and a leatherman in with my knitting, which is on my person most of the time. I explained that it is not my business if he carries a pocket knife.
He looked confused and asked my name.
"Gina", I replied, smiling and holding out my hand, "What's yours?"
He shook my hand, replied George, and asked after lemonade. Then he was surprised that I remembered his name a minute or two later.
I thought it was sad that the assumption is sometimes automatically made that anyone from the middle east is a terrorist. In the days following 9-11, my friend Martin was called "terrorist" many times over. His family escaped religious persecution in Iraq (I think it was Iraq). Martin, was born here.
I pondered this subject a couple of weeks ago but other stuff kept coming up. When I really thought about the current American attitude towards those from the Middle East, I realized that every generation (blames the one before...) has it's "enemy". Right now, anyone from the war torn countries over there are potential terrorists. In the 80's, anyone from Russia must have been a member of the KGB. China, at one point, was considered so evil that did not appear on American maps. (or so I have been told. If this is a myth, let me know) What I do know for sure is that during WW2, thousands of Japanese-American citizens were rounded up and placed in concentration camps. Many, lost everything. They were let out with an "oops, we were wrong" In fact, during the McCarthy era, your next door neighbor could have been a communist.
I was actually comforted by the thought of, "this too shall pass." I wonder who will be considered "evil" next?