Old Wives' Tales
Radio & TV
Toxin du jour
Claim: Prior to the terrorist attack on the morning of
Origins: In the weeks that followed the Attack on America, an especially disquieting whisper rumbled through a society struggling desperately to come to terms with the unthinkable: On the morning of
[Collected on the Internet, 2001]The best proof that this wasn't so is of the negative sort. Media coverage on
I heard that all of the Arab run /owned coffee shops and news stands near the WTC were closed the morning of 9/11.
[Collected on the Internet, 2001]
This friend-of-a-friend owns a flower shop in NY. On the morning of the attacks, she went to a flower market that is normally filled with Arabs. On that morning it was empty. She is therefore assuming that these people were warned ahead of time.
Those who endeavored to make their way home from Ground Zero that day had to hike through the streets because public transportation had ground to a halt and taxis were not to be found. The attacks brought Manhattan to a standstill, and streets normally jammed with all manner of vehicles instead teemed with folks walking out of the city. It's possible those memories — of streets devoid of everything but emergency vehicles — fed the rumor, leading some to conclude that if cabs weren't to be had after the attacks, they hadn't been there before the attacks. Whatever started the rumor is almost immaterial; what matters is how quickly and completely it was seized
The rumor was a way of putting into words a chilling realization America was fighting to come to terms with: Those who had perpetrated the attacks had lived among their victims without raising suspicion, and others of their kind were still out there, quietly biding their time and waiting for their turn to strike. Every male of Arab descent was now suspect, and the presumed loyalty of immigrants from the Middle East was being weighed by all. People were left to wonder whom they could trust. Whom they could really trust.
Was country of origin and its culture more important to émigrés from the Middle East than allegiance to the new country they had chosen to make their home? This rumor put into words America's fear that it did, because at its heart it asserted that even those who weren't directly involved in the attacks must have had knowledge of what was coming but did not see fit to warn others who weren't of their blood. When push came to shove, said the rumor, their loyalty hadn't been to the country that had opened its arms to them; it had been to the murderers from back home.
Sometimes the rumor would take a particularly nasty turn:
[Collected on the Internet, 2001]In such versions it's made clear Arab-Americans weren't merely warned away from the area without any explanation as to why — they knew exactly what was to happen and were cheering it on.
On the morning of Sept. 11, a Middle Eastern looking newspaper vendor handed a man back his change and said "Here's your
Telling friend from foe will never be as simple a matter as proceeding on the assumption that every member of the Arab-American community is loyal to
Barbara "unsafe assumption" Mikkelson
Last updated: 21 April 2008
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