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Racial Discrimination in the United States Past and Present

Updated on December 31, 2011

Reach for Tolerance


In the United States all citizens are supposed to be considered equal. You cannot legally discriminate or deny people their rights based on their racial or religious backgrounds. However, in 1944 Korematsu vs. the United States exemplified the immoral racism of the time. During World War II a government order placed thousands of Japanese-Americans in internment camps, because they were considered enemies of the nation. It was not until 1988 that the U.S. government finally recognized the illegality of the internment and discrimination against Japanese-Americans in WWII. Today with the conflicts in the Middle East and the attacks on September 11 the same racial discrimination is being placed on Arab-Americans. Although, targeting minority groups may have been supported in the past, today legal policy forbid such actions; because, discriminating against any minority group is unconstitutional and racial stereotyping, there cannot be any official policy limiting a minority group such as those of an Arab racial background.

Under the 4th amendment, citizens of the United States are protected against policies that restrict the rights of minority groups. The U.S. constitution clearly states,“All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”This alone prevents any such policies being put into law. The media is responsible for most of the anti-Arab feelings within our country. Although, many people are swayed by the media to believe anyone of Arab dissent is a terrorist, it simply is not so. These types of actions are racial stereotypes which the masses feed off of, but the public actually needs to be educated on the topic. Many Arab-Americans like those Japanese-Americans during WWII actually have no ties to the Middle East and except for a select few cases they have no connections to terrorist groups. Because of the actions of a few people many Arab-Americans are subjected to unfair treatment by those of other racial groups.

Policies supporting racial discrimination are not only illegal, but are also morally wrong. These racial stereotypes are passed down to children who continue such attitudes to future generations. As mentioned before, it does not help that the media supports these same types of stereotypes. In many movies Arabs are nearly always portrayed as the villains of the story. It is no wonder that these same attitudes influence people's decisions when it comes to things like voting for certain policies in the government. Those of an Arab racial background are often raised under the Islamic religion. After the 9/11 attacks being deemed an attack by Islamic fanatics, many Muslims have gotten a bad reputation for an attack they had absolutely no part in. Those belonging to this minority group now often face discrimination, intimidation, and even violence from hate crimes. This treatment is a lot like the Japanese-Americans treatment during WWII after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Today passing a policy that would inhibit the rights of Arab-Americans would only support racism and further such hate crimes within the United States.

Overall, there is a lot of anti-Arab feeling in the United States today just like there were anti-Japanese feelings during WWII. However, the 4th amendment clearly prohibits any policy that would discriminate against a minority group like Arab-Americans. Policies like these are immoral and illegal. People should not believe racial stereotypes that portray all Arabs and Muslims as terrorists. Policies that limit the rights of a select racial group only make people think it’s okay for them to hate and discriminate the group. These fears are the result of paranoia and are unjust. For example, we were once at war with Germany, but we do not hate or pass policies against those of German dissent. Also there are plenty of white Christians that commit crimes, but there is no widespread campaign to limit the rights of white Christians. This proves that you cannot take the actions of a few and place judgment on everyone pertaining to that particular race and belief system. Arab-Americans are not a dangerous minority group; these are simply misconceptions that are supported by the media and the masses that are influenced by these ideas. The United States needs to reach for tolerance and not hate, because discriminatory policies will not uphold in court, because they are unjust and unconstitutional. I hope that 2012 will bring up a new bond of tolerance.



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    • pramodgokhale profile image

      pramodgokhale 4 years ago from Pune( India)

      Yes,

      melting pot not yet processed the content in. Democratic USA can do it and discrimination will be the history , i hope.

      pramod gokhale

    • everythingdazzles profile image
      Author

      Janelle 5 years ago from Houston

      Yes, I hope that not only in the United State but worldwide can gain some kind of understanding of each other. All the violence in the world is senseless. Thank you all for reading.

    • profile image

      jenubouka 5 years ago

      Powerful words and wonderfully written. I think it requires bravery to speak out about discrimination. I just watched a Movie that centered around the south and the slow process of integration, I just shook my head in shame and wondered what is so important to be a certain color, race, religion. Thank you for this.

    • platinumOwl4 profile image

      platinumOwl4 5 years ago

      Everthingdazzles, This article only speaks to the continued policy prevalent in what was the alleged leader of the free world. Consequently, others have adopted many of the practices outlined in your articles. This is most unfortunate base on what the founding Fathers claim they were against.

    • profile image

      Howard Schneider 5 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey

      Excellent Hub, EverythingDazzles. The Japanese detentions during WWII were a disgusting incident in our history. The discrimination against Arab-Americans has not yet approached that but there have been disturbing similarities. Americans must stop dealing in generalities and become aware of the nuances and differences in all ethnicities and races. No matter what horrible tragedies occur such as 9/11.

    • gjfalcone profile image

      gjfalcone 5 years ago from Gilbert, Arizona

      Wonderful Hub. Great presentation. You would think history would be the finest example of a teaching moment in time. Yet, here we are, fighting amongst ourselves over... what is the devisive topic again...ah, right, political parties. How sad, how very sad.

      Happy New Year & God Bless America, please...now!