MAGAZINE COVER – FAMOUS NY MAGAZINE – NOV. 2001 ISSUE, SO VERY SOON AFTER THE WTC ATTACKS.
A New York cabdriver is sitting at the wheel of his yellow taxi. Helooks shy and afraid and he’s trying to hide as much as possible. His cab is covered with US flags and stickers and a sign even reads ‘God bless America’. We understand easily this exuberant show ofpatriotism because the man is wearing a turban and a beard, which identifies him as an Arab and a Muslim, in other words the arch-enemy of the USA.
Of course, the poor cab driver obviously feelsthreatened by his fellow-citizens who may not recognize him as an American. Indeed, nothing is WASP about him and he knows it. He’s been probably been insulted or maybe harmed already. He does notwant this to happen again. So he needs to display his nationality, to prove it, to show that he is American and must not be mistaken with a guy from Al-Qaeda or another terrorist. It is like he wassaying “don’t beat me, I’m on your side, I’m American!”
Clearly the drawing plays on exaggeration but overstatement is an effective way of denouncing any given situation and at the time, the life ofmany people indeed changed significantly. The artist’s point is to condemn blind hatred and to highlight how dangerous it can be to be a ‘funny-looking’ American.
Indeed, in the immediateaftermath of 9/11, defiance and aggressiveness towards dark-looking people peaked in a crazy way! Fear was in the air, and many scared and paranoid citizens saw terrorists everywhere in the streets. A lot of‘Middle Eastern-looking’ people were harassed, abused, threatened, assaulted. Mosques and other buildings were burnt. A Sikh was even shot dead. Sikhs were mistaken with Muslims because of theirturbans.
A report documented media coverage of 645 hate-related incidents against Americans of South Asian or Middle Eastern descent between September 11 and September 17, including vandalism,...