The September 11th attacks really seem to have brought out the worst in America. Quite apart from the foreign policy response - Guantanamo, Iraq, torture and disappearance - the attacks themselves were followed by a spate of hate crimes, as ignorant Americans sought to take out their rage on anyone who looked vaguely Arabic or Muslim. They were also followed by a massive increase in discrimination against those same target groups. And the effects of that discrimination extended far beyond the few cases which made it to court. A recent study has found that the wages of Arabs and Muslims working in America fell by 10% in the wake of the attacks:
The study measured changes in wages of first- and second-generation immigrants, from countries with predominantly Arab or Muslim populations from September 1997 to September 2005. It then compared them to changes in the wages of immigrants with similar skills from other countries.
The average wage was approximately $US20 an hour ahead of the attacks in 2001 and dropped by $US2 an hour after them, Robert Kaestner, co-author of the study and a University of Illinois at Chicago professor of economics, said.
That drop persisted through 2004 but showed signs of abating in 2005, he said.
"I was surprised," Kaestner said. "We see an immediate and significant connection between personal prejudice and economic harm."
And to rub that last point home, the size of the drop was strongly geographically correlated with the incidence of hate crimes. This is bigotry at work.
As with internment and torture, this isn't just a crime, it's also a mistake. Terrorism feeds off injustice. If the US wants to see domestic terrorist groups spring up, then its rednecks are going the right way about it...