You probably think that the victims of 9/11 are those Americans of every race, color, creed, and social class who got burnt to cinders or jumped to desperate deaths on that bright and deadly September morning now seared into our collective consciousness.
Not according to Nicholas Rossier, director of Brothers and Others, a documentary film now making the rounds and heaping up the kudos on the international-intelligentsia film circuit, as well as a number of cheerleading Islamicist websites. The idea behind “Brothers” is that the real victims of 9/11 are the American Muslims interrogated by the FBI and other government agencies because of their possible ties to Al Qaeda, the Muslim-terrorist organization behind the bombings. Reviewing the film for National Review Online today, Heather Mac Donald writes:
“The message of Brothers and Others is simple: After the al Qaeda strikes, the United States embarked on a ‘war on Islam.’ That war is not much different from the attacks themselves: ‘By jailing thousands of Arabs, Muslims and South Asians without evidence or due process, is America perpetuating the cycle of hate and ignorance which claimed so many innocent lives [on September 11th]?’ asks Arabfilm.com. The film’s resounding answer: Yes!
“So who are the victims of this ’heightened climate of suspicion’ that Swiss-born director Rossier offers his viewers? Well, there’s Ali, a young man in the computer business whom the FBI interviewed after 9/11 on the basis of a tip. Like all of the men featured in the film, we don’t learn why the FBI was interested in Ali. Ali does acknowledge, however, eclectic web-surfing habits. Does he frequent jihadist websites? Rossier doesn’t bother to ask.
“Four months after the Bureau interview, Ali lost his job — a common occurrence in the computer industry, all the more so in the post-9/11 downturn. We are to suspect, however, that his employer retaliated against him for the FBI’s brief interest, even though Brothers and Others provides nothing to back up that innuendo.
“The FBI quickly cleared Ali, and he has not heard from them again. That’s it. End of story. But on the basis of such minimal government action, Ali dons full victim status. ‘I don’t have any rights,’ he whines, though nothing the government did to him came even close to infringing on his civil liberties (since it may ask an individual for a non-custodial interview without crossing any constitutional tripwires). Ali also claims that he has been censored, and the filmmaker obligingly poses him skimming a book about censorship.’
“If being interviewed by the FBI makes one a victim of an anti-Muslim witch hunt, the implication is clear: The government should have just waited patiently after 9/11 until the next group of Islamic terrorists graciously turned themselves in. Any preemptive investigations that the government may launch are per se racist if they touch on Muslims, according to the film’s critique. Given the fact that Osama bin Laden has yet to invite Jews or Christians to join his jihad against America, however, it is unavoidable that an investigation of Islamic terrorism will have Muslims for its subject.”
Nontheless, so effectively have American Muslims, egged on by the usual array of civil liberties organizations latched on to victim status that the government has actually halted some of its anti-terrorism measures. Heather writes:
“In another incident earlier this year, the Department of Homeland Security asked the Census Department to present it with publicly available data (information easily found on the internet) about residential-living patterns of various Arab nationalities, to better target outreach. The data were presented only in the aggregate, not by individual names or addresses. Arab and Muslim advocates went nuts at this ‘targeting’ of minorities, and their new line — propounded by the ACLU and other sympathetic groups — is that the transfer of publicly available information is tantamount to the internment of Japanese Americans in WWII. In response, the government backed off completely, and has since put up all sorts of cumbersome bureaucratic roadblocks to inter-agency sharing of public census information.”
Heather writes that “it would be nice if an Arab advocacy or civil-rights group called for cooperation with the government, and announced that, in the larger scheme of possible harms, a voluntary interview is not such a big deal.”
That doesn’t seem likely to happen soon. But it would also be nice, wouldn’t it, if we paid some attention to the real and now half-forgotten victims of 9/11 instead of the faux-victims clamoring their gripes over insignificant intrusions into their lives.