Throughout history, societies have told stories or mythos of how their country was created or founded, and how the people of these lands struggled and worked to establish their land/people. The main climax of these stories is the defeat over an enemy/enemies. Throughout history, many leaders and rulers apply these tales to real life, to inspire their people to triumph over their enemies for the well being of their people/country, but many of these “enemies” can be justified to be entire groups of people.
A current fear of Americans is the looming war with middle-eastern superpower Iran, but as these threats of war have been becoming more prevalent, I’ve started thinking about some of the consequences that Iranian-Americans might face in wake of tensions and possibly war. I think of this because of the many groups of people blamed during a national crisis, and this is more than just an American issue, this practice of blaming a minority for a country’s crisis is nothing new. Whether it came to Hitler blaming Jewish people for the Great Depression and Germany’s defeat in the First World War, or Saddam Hussein blaming Iraqi Shiites for a failed assassination attempt on him and other issues facing Saddam’s Iraq, with the same situation happening in a post-Saddam Iraq again but with Shiite Muslims blaming Sunni’s for their problems, or while under Japanese occupation of Korea, the Japanese treated Korean citizens like sub-humans, with much of this discrimination still happening today. This issue can be described as more of a human issue than an American issue, but this idea has been implanted in America since it’s birth.
In the 1700’s, British controlled America was almost entirely made up of English or European settlers with a sizable presence of slavery in the 13 colonies. Much of the 13 colonies were decently settled and controlled by these (Mostly British) immigrants, the land controlled by Native Americans was protected by the Proclamation Line of 1763, which outlawed American settlers traveling across this boundary. After America won the War of Independence, Britain ceded the land that was reserved to the Native Americans to the newly founded United States. Conflict between American settlers and Natives was somewhat of an issue between 1781 & 1812, but these conflicts would become even more widespread after the war of 1812. Tecumseh, dozens of Native Tribes, and the British fought against America for 3 years during the war of 1812, a battle that stood out to the American people and government, was the battle of Fort Dearborn, which lasted only 15 minutes, Fort Dearborn was then burnt down and some of the civilians were killed. The aftermath of this battle were monumental, Native Americans have been killed, relocated, raped, and shunned upon by the American public over the last 200 years.
One of the more modern examples of Americans blaming an issue of crisis on minorities, is the Great Recession and Central American migrants. Prior to the Great Recession, immigration rates of the Mexican border were pretty steady, but when the recession hit, one of the first things blamed for the recession was Central American migrants. Whether it came to “Stealing Jobs” or “Increased Crime” many people found Central American immigrants an easy scapegoat for economic issues. These fears were put to its worse when I.C.E. took people from their homes, immigrants were put into cages, and families were separated because of government policy.
Overall, many people aren’t able to distinguish the acts of individual(s) as the acts of entire peoples or countries, these ideas also apply to leaders or politicians. Many of these ideas sprout through ignorance or being close-minded, the true way of moving past ideas like this is through acceptance, knowledge, and appreciation of different cultures and people.
Photo credit: “All Muslims are often blamed for single acts of terror. Psychology explains how to stop it” in Vox