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News & Press: Dear Advocates

OCA Remembers Innocent Lives Lost from 9/11

Friday, September 11, 2015   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Nick Lee
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Dear Advocate,

On this day, we solemnly reflect on our fallen heroes and the lives lost as a result of the tragic events of September 11th fourteen years ago.

Betty Ann Ong

We remember brave men and women such as Betty Ann Ong, a Chinese American flight attendant who reported the hijacking while aboard American Airlines Flight 11. Without her heroic 25 minute effort to call ground control and report the hijacking, the FAA may not have closed airspace for the first time in its history and the devastating attacks could have continued. Today we remember the victims of that tragic moment in our nation's history and also the valiant heroes, law enforcement, fire fighters and ordinary people, who gave their lives assisting the fallen. One, Abdul Salam Mallahi, an Arab Muslim who worked at the Marriott Hotel, died when he stayed onsite assisting others to escape. His body was never recovered. His story is rarely told.

Only three days after the terrorist attacks on September 14, 2001, the first victim of racial profiling caused by 9/11 was killed. Balbir Singh Sodhi, an innocent Sikh American in Mesa, Arizona, was gunned down by a man who mistook him for Arab because of his turban. In the years since the attacks, racially motivated harassment, bullying, and violence have all dramatically increased against the Arab, South Asian, Muslim, and Sikh communities. Hate crimes against these communities continue to be five times more common than they were prior to the 9/11 attacks and a cursory check indicates that attacks on innocent Americans have not subsided. Just this past February three Muslim students were killed in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and as recently as Tuesday, Inderjit Singh Mukker, a Sikh man, was assaulted while being called "terrorist" and "Bin Laden".

Balbir Singh Sodhi

Similarly, it has never just been individuals who have targeted communities because of their racial, ethnic, or religious background. The United States government has a long history of targeting Asian Americans, and now, Arab, South Asian, Muslim, and Sikh Americans without probable cause or due process in the name of national security. Last October, a Chinese American scientist, Sherry Chen, was arrested for allegedly giving state secrets to China before it was revealed that her ethnicity played a central role in the suspicion that led to her arrest. Despite having all charges dropped, Chen was still fired from her job this week. Just this past July, retired Army General and one-time presidential hopeful Wesley Clark made a frightening proposal to intern Muslim citizens in the wake of a shooting in Chattanooga. Incidents like these serve as haunting reminders that the racial profiling that led to the internment of over 120,000 innocent Japanese Americans during WWII is alive and well today.

E Pluribus Unum; Out of Many, One. We are a nation of immigrants, travelers from all corners of the world. We come to live, work and flourish in a land rooted in individual liberty. America is at its best when we all come together, when people of all colors, races, ethnicities, nationalities and beliefs stand together in the face of adversity. United, we can achieve security without scapegoating or stereotyping. Our goal must be to preserve the lives of innocent Americans and to never, ever compromise on our cherished principles of equality and justice. It was those very principles that came under attack that September morning fourteen years ago. To defend those principles, we must remain vigilant, each and every day, to never letting our anger, hatred, fear and suspicion undermine these precious ideals which form the foundation of our great nation.






Michael W. Kwan

OCA National President

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