The years after 9/11, I could have sworn there was a clicking noise whenever I used the landline at my parent’s place. It could have been a bad phone, or it could have been due to the, as Saheli said, “crappy connectivity that year.” I would half-jokingly have side bar conversations with the so-called secret eavesdroppers, letting them know “I know you are listening!” or my thoughts on Dick Cheney.

I was reminded of this as I was reading Aasif Mandvi’s Op-Ed over at Bloomberg just now (h/t Ludovic):

When U.S. troops marched into Iraq in 2003, I, like many Americans, was outraged at what I considered a senseless and unjustified military action. As I spoke to my mother about it on the phone, I noticed that the angrier I got, the more uncomfortable she became.


At first I thought perhaps she disagreed with me, that her awkward silences on the other end of the line resulted from her biting her tongue. Had she, like many of her fellow Americans, bought into the claim that Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden were simply opposite sides of the same al-Qaeda nickel?


When I pressed her on this, she quietly replied, “Perhaps we should not discuss this over the phone.”


What do you mean? I said. Why on earth not?


Because, she answered, “You never know who is listening to us.” [bloomberg]


Read the rest here. Were we out of the realms of normal to think that our phone lines could be wiretapped? I don’t think so. It was THE Muslim Witch Hunt of 2001 – the antiquated version of our modern day Islamophobia. With Homeland Security agents knocking at our door and unmarked white vans parked in front of our house, it was very realistic to think that our line could be wiretapped. Ten years later, it still seems very realistic and in fact it feels that progress has not been made but rather undone. As Mandvi states, “That moment when the world came together and shared a grief that transcended faith, nationality and politics is undone….What I hope for in the next 10 years is a War against Fear.”

3 thoughts on “Tapped

  1. Sorry, but this seems way too maudlin to me. The Islamists who perpetrated 9/11 in America are responsible for even worse in Pakistan. I have friends in Lahore whose brothers in Pakistani security forces have been killed by them. I don’t understand why keening about the side-effects of defeating the Islamists is so interesting. They need to be stopped, especially at the source. Labeling things as “Islamophobia” seems to be denying the problem. America took me in and treated me well post-9/11 even though I am a Muslim from Pakistan. America and I have some similar enemies.

    • @Sahar Glad you posted that comment. A touch of hard reality for those that feel anything done to find terrorists is somehow wrong. Nobody offers anything other than their self absorbed navel gazing.