Toward An Uncertain Future  

The Muslim and Arab communities whose experiences are chronicled here are, of course, not the only communities to be affected by the enduring assaults on civil rights and civil liberties that are associated with the post-9/11 climate. They have become, however, enduring symbols and targets of the intensified level of militarization and repression affecting U.S. society — a process with profound implications for every sector of the U.S. population.

We will not venture to sum up the implications of these events, which are still unfolding. We can, however, note some of the principal ways that these and other forms of repression have spread beyond their original targets to affect ever-widening circles:

As noted by David Cole, a leading constitutional scholar and advocate, throughout U.S. history, attacks on rights and liberties have almost always begun with immigrants – but they never end there. At this writing, plans are underway to create a massive database covering all “authorized” workers in the United States, both citizens and immigrants; bills imposing sharp restrictions on academic freedom have been introduced in at least thirteen state legislatures; and antiwar protestors and other political dissidents are reporting growing restrictions on their freedom of assembly, as well as surveillance and intimidation by the FBI and “Joint Terrorism Task Forces.”

A more comprehensive list of contemporary assaults on civil rights and civil liberties is beyond the scope of this resource; we note these examples to stress that democratic rights only have meaning if they are universal and indivisible. Only by defending the rights of every part of our communities can we effectively defend our own — the part of this story that remains to be written, by all of us.

Rachael Kamel
Philadelphia, September 2005