My dog is 17 years old. She is a miniature dachshund. If you met her, I’m sure you’d find her very gentle and sweet.
And a century ago, you might have kicked her.
Back during World War I – actually during World War II as well – Americans loathed anything German because we were at war with Germany. That included dachshunds. So dachshunds cropped up on propaganda posters, and stories would circulate about folks kicking the little dogs or throwing rocks at them.
Dachshunds had nothing to do with Archduke Franz Ferdinand’s assassination and the diplomatic crisis that spurred World War I. But in people’s need to simplify, they chose an unrelated, accessible symbol on which to focus their hatred.
That brings us to hijabs.
Just a few years ago I couldn’t have told you what a hijab was. It’s just a wrapped scarf that covers a woman’s head and upper chest. And it’s mainly worn by Muslims.
The world is rightly terrified over terrorism, and of the lowlifes who want to wipe Western culture off the planet. So expressing even the vaguest whiff of Muslim culture these days becomes A Big Deal.
Media have been gushing over a pretty 19-year-old student who wore a hijab while competing recently in the Miss Minnesota USA pageant. Also grabbing headlines is the journalist a few weeks ago who filled in on a late-night newscast in Canada to become the first anchorwoman in that country to wear a hijab.
The news peg they try to put on these stories is that these women are groundbreaking and courageous. I didn’t think so until I started reading about particular attacks being reported nationwide. Apparently wearing a hijab these days takes guts.
See, some lowlifes aren’t kicking dachshunds any more. They’re pouncing on hijabs.
A Muslim New York City Transit employee was wearing a hijab with her uniform when she was pushed down a flight of stairs at Grand Central Terminal. Minutes before, her attacker told her, “You’re a terrorist and you shouldn’t be working for the city.”
If he had special intel about the transit worker, he didn’t share it with others.
Also earlier this month, Aml El Sokary tried to intervene when a stranger was pushing her teenage son. The attacker then threatened her with his pit bull and shouted, “I will cut your throat. Go back to your country.”
What the low-information attacker didn’t know is that El Sokary’s country is the United States. She was born and raised here. Oh, and she’s a New York City police officer. She was off-duty and out of uniform at the time.
Dozens of these cases are being reported nationwide. In many instances, the aggressors try to rip the hijabs off the victims’ heads. That’s been the typical narrative: headscarf-wearing victim vs. gutless assailant.
I don’t know how many of these incidents are true – one report in Lafayette, La., and another in New York City turned out to be false. But if even one story is true, it’s a disgusting reflection on a country that has prided itself on religious freedom.
And you don’t get the freedom to pull off a total stranger’s religious headwear. “Freedom” doesn’t mean acting “free” and “dumb.”
There is a realistic expectation for immigrants to assimilate into American culture. Embrace your new country. But I wouldn’t tell a Sikh from India to take off his turban. I wouldn’t badger an orthodox Jew from Israel into removing his yarmulke.
And I certainly don’t have the misguided temerity to tell a woman to get rid of her hijab.
Hijabs aren’t blowing people up all over the world. Radical Muslim lunatics are. Dachshunds weren’t killing our troops in the trenches during World War I. It was the German army.
So if you feel compelled to harass a woman wearing a hijab – or, worse yet, if you don’t see a problem with snatching a hijab off a woman’s head and calling her a terrorist – then maybe you’re not the type of American that America needs right now.
You are, if I may borrow a term from President-elect Trump, “sad.”