Hyper-patriotism yields racial discrimination

Last Christmas, I drove past a house beautifully decorated with lights. I saw the usual figure of Santa in the front yard and bright lights strung around palm trees. An American flag made of red, white and blue lights shined out of a large window by the front door.

The basic Christmas colors of red and green now included a new look–American flag ornaments and red, white and blue lights.

My holiday happiness dulled. It saddens me to see the outcome of 9/11. Lives were lost. The economy went into recession, and people lost their jobs. We’ve also become hyper-patriotic.

An American citizen I am. Patriotic, I am not. I don’t understand why people became hyper-patriotic after that tragic day. After 9/11, patriotism changed us from coming together as one people under our American flags. Instead, we began to deny people their rights.

Our so-called patriotism made us question Arab-Americans. Were they all terrorists? Americans have displayed unequal treatment toward Arabs who reside in America. The Justice Department required thousands of Muslims living in the U.S. to register with the Immigration and Naturalization Service and be fingerprinted by Jan. 10.

According to www.PoliticalCircus.com, all men carrying temporary visas for reasons from education to employment, and who are citizens of 13 “questionable” Middle Eastern and African countries, had to register. “The INS has requested this as a means of warding off terrorism.”

We are causing the problem of racial discrimination to increase from where it already is.

Columbia University professor Michael Eric Dyson said, in a St. Petersburg Times article, that people are asked to prove their American patriotism in a world where people are denied access.

We have twisted a love for country into hate and discrimination.

On Monday, President Bush said that work remains to fulfill Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream of equality in America. Yet he and his administration continue to deprive Americans of their rights.

Am I a bitter American citizen? No. I just find it difficult to fully support a country that doesn’t hope for the betterment of every single person residing within its borders.

I take pride in my American citizenship, but patriotism shouldn’t be used as an excuse to deny people their rights.

Cheryl R. Young, 22, is a graduate of the School of Journalism and Graphic Communications from Miami. She can be reached at CherylY@hotmail.com