True American: Part One

Photo by Michael Browning on Unsplash

[Image Description: The flag of the United States of America hangs off-center inside a wooden room with ceiling rafters, illuminated by ambient light.]

Dear Basma,

You were smart to emigrate to Australia. I’m sorry I didn’t go with you. I was way too afraid that everything could kill me. Did you know that even the koalas are deadly? Koalas.

Today Camp Stars and Stripes was tedious. We had to have a campfire. According to Counselor Kelly,  nothing is more American than a campfire. I don’t get why she thinks we’ve never seen one before. Remember when we were in sixth grade and they sent us away to summer camp? That was when James Jenkins wet his pants because he saw a rattlesnake.  It’s not like we grew up in Egypt. We grew up in Denver.

She went on and on and on about all the horrific crimes we Muslims have committed. This included the dreaded Elitch Gardens massacre. (I don’t know about you, but the only thing there that ever massacred me was their ribs). Then we had to listen to a bunch of “American music” (because apparently, we have never heard of Kid Rock). The conversation went something like this:

“Okay, guys! I know you like listening to your screechy terrorist music, but we’re going to listen to the ultimate American band: Three Doors Down!” She hopped up and down. I swear she’s on cocaine.

“Why can’t we listen to The Rolling Stones?” Mohammad #3 piped up. “I like Mick Jagger,” he said. Laila, his wife, nodded in agreement and began to hum “Paint it Black”.

“Because they’re not American, they’re British!” Counselor Kelly snapped. “See that’s why we put all you Muslims in this camp, you need to learn how to be American!”

Laila muttered under her breath, “But we are American.” Counselor Sean put his hand on his gun. Laila averted her eyes.

“This is what our Lord and Savior wants for you!” Counselor Kelly continued. “To be American! We all know that blending doesn’t work, look at California! Our Lord and Savior has nearly defeated them in their silly war!”

“You mean The Second Civil War?” Laila asked. I don’t think any of us expected Alabama to have that many guerrilla soldiers that could take down Los Angeles.

“Can we listen to that song ‘American Woman’? Mohammed #2 asked. “That has to be American, right? It’s about an American woman.”

“And it’s got such a good beat!” Mohammed #3 cried. He began to sing; “American Woman/Stay away from meeeeeee”

Counselor Kelly stamped her foot into the dirt, staining her pristine shoes.“It’s not American! That’s by The Guess Who! They’re not American! They’re Canadian!”

“But it’s about an American!”

Counselor Sean fired his gun into the air. A single shot echoed into the harsh night. We no longer scream or duck when we hear gunshots. A gunshot goes off about 30 minutes around here, sometimes even more.

“That’s it! You all have to eat another hot dog! Now listen to this!” She nodded to Counselor Paul, who proceeded to pick up a guitar and shriek “Kryptonite” to us.

“Do you think it’s possible for us to escape and swim to Cuba?” I whispered to Samira. She’s one of my roommates here.

“If they caught us, they would probably lock us in a cabin and make us listen to Nickelback,” she whispered back, popping a marshmallow into her mouth.

I popped one in my mouth too. “I don’t think we’ll be subjected to Nickelback. They’re dirty Canadians, remember?”

She smirked back at me. I looked away when I met Counselor Sean’s beady eyes. He’s got thief's eyes, as Uncle Tarak would call them. You can’t trust someone with thief's eyes. They’re as sneaky as they come.

“I refuse to eat this!”

Samira rolled her eyes. “Oh no, Kyle is getting started again.”

I let out a long groan. It’s not that we hate Kyle. He means well, he’s just an idiot. He’s this white guy who claims he’s Muslim. When the Muslim registry first started, he was the first to claim that he was a Muslim. As the military forced us to register, I remember his swagger as he burst in, wearing a North Face pullover and demanding that they let him register. At first Kyle was fine. It was cool to see someone want to fight for us and who wanted to convert. But Kyle hasn’t learned anything about Islam. He doesn’t know anything about what it’s like to be us. I remember when they were stuffing us into vans, the way you would stuff an overpacked suitcase, he made sure every news camera was trained on him.

“How dare you make me eat pork?!” Kyle hurled his hot dog into the fire, where it landed with a soft crackle. It knocked Mohammed #4’s marshmallow out of the fire. He didn’t look happy about that. “You know that it’s against Allah’s will for me to eat pork!” Kyle yelled.

“Let’s see if he’s still saying that once Ramadan hits,” Samira muttered. I stifle a chuckle. Counselor Paul glared at me. I knew that I would be stuck cleaning the toilets tonight.

“Kyle,” Counselor Kelly growled like an angry pitbull. “All the other Muslims have to eat the hot dogs because they’re American. So you have to too. Hot dogs are the ultimate American food.”

“I will not eat it! It’s against the Quran!”

Counselor Sean seized Kyle and dragged him away. He treated him like a sack of dirty laundry. This was the second time Kyle has been taken. The last time he came back with a black eye.

The conversation kept going like this. It’s only Day 5. I might try to escape and swim to Cuba.

I miss you.

Your sister,

Amina

*

One Year Earlier

Denver Register

Hate Crimes Against Muslims Rise as Government Imposes National Registry

By Jason Kim

Contact Reporter

Since the Patriot Act 2.0 was drafted into law, hate crimes against the Muslim population have skyrocketed. In Denver, Co, alone, 55 different Muslims have reported severe harassment on public transit, in one case leading to death and severe injuries.

“My brother was stabbed right in front of my eyes,” Tamar Osman tells me, tears streaming down his face. “I’m terrified to leave the house. Nowhere is safe. No one tried to help us.”

Muslims aren’t the only ones being targeted. Despite the Patriot Act 2.0 only requiring Muslims to registers, vigilantes calling themselves “saints” have been targeting Latinos and South Asians alike. In the past month, hate crimes have risen by 25%. Even though most of these victims are not Muslim, they have been targeted nonetheless.

The Patriot Act 2.0 has anyone of Muslim faith, current or past, including any family members of a person of Muslim faith register with the National Registry of Muslims. From there, they are required to wear the crescent moon, a key symbol of Islam. While our President stated that this is a mere safety precaution to weed out possible terrorists, many groups have opposed the controversial measure including the ACLU.


Sarah Mina Osman is a writer and teacher residing in Los Angeles. She loves to travel and has been to four different continents. She has a deep appreciation for tacos and sloths.