America After 9/11 Essay Contest

For most of my life, the US was never anything more than vacation memories. My family visited almost 30 years ago for a vacation that marked the end of our years of living in the UK and which came just before we moved to Saudi Arabia.

New York City dazzled, of course, and a road trip with an uncle and his family from Wyoming through the Rockies to California where Mickey Mouse greeted us in Disneyland, was a lesson in the sheer vastness that is the United States.

But then I fell in love with an American and I flew to NYC to meet him for the millennium celebrations and even though we fought and I gave him back his engagement ring, I agreed to marry him and I did what I vowed I'd never do: I left my job and my home for a man.

The year after I moved to be with him in Seattle, early one Tuesday, his mother called us from her home at the other end of the country – three time zones away in Florida – urging us to turn on the television because something terrible was happening in New York. I rushed to awaken my brother and his wife who were visiting us.

That morning of 11 September 2001 as we watched the twin towers crumble on live television, America and I would develop a bond that has proven deeper and more enduring – for better or worse, through sickness and health – than the one I had with my now ex-husband.

"If this is Muslims, they're going to round us up," I told him. He took the day off work and we didn't leave the apartment for two days, worried that my sister-in-law would be attacked for her headscarf. A drunk unsuccessfully tried to set our local mosque on fire; the neighbourhood stood guard outside the mosque for weeks afterwards holding signs that read "Muslims are Americans".

"What's it like to f**k a terrorist?" a group of young men asked the white American husband of a Pakistani-American woman I knew.

I left my husband a year after 9/11. Not because he was an American and I an Egyptian, nothing to do with culture or religion; nothing to do with 9/11. We brought out the worst in each other. But before we separated we visited NYC one more time together for a friend's engagement and we went to pay our respects at the site of the attacks. I had no words. Just tears and prayers as we took in the gaping hole, the makeshift shrines of teddy bears and notes desperately seeking the whereabouts of loved ones.

Ironically, he now lives in Asia and I've stayed in the US. I stayed to fight. To say that's not my Islam. To yell Muslims weren't invented on 9/11. Those planes crashing again and again into the towers were the first introduction to Islam and Muslims for too many Americans but we – American Muslims – are sick and tired of explaining. None of those men was an American Muslim and we're done explaining and apologising. Enough.

I stayed to give my middle finger to Tea Partiers who tried to intimidate a group of us in 2010 because we supported the right of an Islamic community centre to build near the site of the attacks. They came to bully us and I bullied them right back. I wanted them to know Muslims will not be intimidated so think twice before you try to bully another one.

I became an American in April of this year, almost 11 years after I moved here. I could've become naturalised earlier but I realised soon after I took the oath and we watched a video of President Obama congratulating us that if it had been President Bush I would've probably run out, screaming.

Despite an appearance by Bush at a mosque after 9/11 to show he didn't hold all Muslims responsible, his administration proceeded to do exactly that: military trials for civilians, secret prisons, the detention of hundreds of Muslim men without charge, the torture and harsh interrogation of detainees and the invasions of two Muslim-majority countries.

And the latest stain on the US civil liberties record: an Associated Press expose in August on ways the CIA and the NYPD are combining forces to spy on Muslims in New York City. The thought that someone could be following me to my favourite book shops or night clubs is as pathetic and sinister as when the Mubarak regime tapped my phone and had me followed when I lived in Egypt.

And I will continue to stay in the US for my nieces and nephews. I have chosen not to have children. I am a happy aunt to two girls and two boys between the ages of three and eight. They were the first Americans in our family and the thought that anyone could question either their nationality or faith – or demand they choose between the two – enrages me.

Over the past 10 years, American Muslims have fought not just the hate and stereotypes and the profiling from those outside the community, we've also had major fights within the Muslim community. As a friend described it, 9/11 pushed many Muslims to "come out" as liberals or progressives. For too long, huge, conservative national organisations claimed to speak for all of us but there is a much greater diversity of American Muslim voices now and that benefits everyone. Conservative does not equal authentic.

People think I'm Brazilian, Dominican, Puerto Rican, anything but Muslim because many people equate a Muslim woman with the wearing of a headscarf. So like someone who's gay who might make sure to tell you soon after you meet, I try to include within the first three sentences of a new meeting that I'm a Muslim.

Before 9/11, some Muslims lived quiet, uneventful suburban lives; the dentists and the accountants and the attorneys. 9/11 robbed them of that boring existence. But in struggling to become boring again, American Muslims have over the past 10 years made our community here the most vibrant of any Muslim community in the world, Tea Party and Bush legacy be damned!

We're your friends, lovers and spouses, America. We're your comedians, taxi drivers, chefs, politicians and singers. And we're your doctors, like my brother and his wife who were visiting me from the midwest in Seattle 10 years ago.

My brother, a cardiologist, was visited by special agents from the FBI in November 2001 who asked him if he knew anyone who celebrated the attacks. His wife is an obstetrician/gynaecologist.

One day she and I were watching one of those medical dramas when she told me an anecdote that neatly sums it all up: "I was delivering a baby the other day and the father was watching via Skype cam. He was a soldier in Afghanistan. And I thought, here I am: a Muslim doctor in a headscarf delivering a baby whose father is an American soldier in Afghanistan, a Muslim country."

Let's draw the curtain on 9/11 anniversaries after this 10th one. Every year on 11 September you can taste the grief in NYC. The wound will never heal if every year we scratch the scar off and open the way to hate and prejudice.

Some of the earliest Muslims came to the US across the Atlantic on slave ships from west Africa. Not far from where I live in Harlem, there's a west African community complete with a mosque, restaurants and French-speaking people. 9/11 changed everything and 9/11 changed nothing at all. America – I'm not going anywhere.

Since the end of the Cold War, the United States has greatly expanded its role in international security. Major conflicts have been waged in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, the Balkans, and more. Defense guarantees have been extended to more than a dozen additional nations. The War on Terror, now in its seventeenth year, involves seventy-six countries. There are some eight hundred overseas military bases, costing taxpayers an estimated $100 billion per year even as the national debt grows.

Proponents argue that these extensive global security commitments are essential to America’s own safety. Are they right? If they are, is each and every current commitment worth the costs and risks? Questions like these deserve serious consideration. Accordingly, the John Quincy Adams Society is partnering with The National Interestone of Washington’s most important foreign-policy magazines—to launch a new essay contest for college students. The winners will run in TNI, meaning they’ll be read by many of those who make the decisions and shape the discussions that set our country’s course in the world. By appearing in such a respected forum, you’ll help make a name for yourself as a thoughtful, professional voice in international affairs.

It’s a tremendous opportunity to restore balance to the discourse in DC—and to build your own personal brand. Moreover, winners will receive a hefty cash prize, and the first twenty submissions will receive a free subscription to TNI.

With this in mind, submissions shall answer the following question:

In what area of the world could the United States reduce its military involvement? Explain your reasoning.

Submit your entry here.

Rules:

Undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral students who will be attending institutions in the United States in Fall 2018 or who attended in Spring 2018 are welcome to participate.

The winning essays will run on TNI’s website and be promoted on social media by both TNI and JQA.

Prizes are as follows:

– First prize (one): $1000, essay featured on TNI, two year subscription to TNI

– Runner up (two): $250, essay featured on TNI, one year subscription to TNI

Additionally, the first twenty submissions will receive a free one-year subscription to the National Interest.

If you’re stuck, consider reading some of the articles in the Intellectual Development section of the Society’s Resources page.

Submissions shall be between 900 and 1500 words, and are due by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on Sunday, April 8, 2018, by following the instructions at this link. Sources should be hyperlinked, rather than footnoted, when possible. Complete rules follow.

Student Foreign Policy Essay CONTEST RULES

1. SPONSOR: The sponsor of the Student Foreign Policy Essay Contest is the John Quincy Adams Society.

2. ELIGIBILITY: Contest entrants must be legal residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia aged eighteen years or older, except where prohibited. Employees, officers, and directors of the sponsor, and its subsidiaries, affiliates, and divisions (“Related Entities”) and their immediate families (parents, children, siblings and their spouses) and household members (whether or not related) of each are not eligible to enter. Anyone serving as a contest judge is ineligible for the contest. The contest is void outside the fifty United States, the District of Columbia and where prohibited and restricted by any federal, state, or local law, rule, or regulation (“Law”). The contest is subject to all Law.

3. HOW TO ENTER: The contest begins on February 26, 2018 at 12 p.m. EST and ends at 11:59 p.m. EST, Sunday, April 8, 2018. This time frame is known as the “contest period.” To be eligible for the contest, you must:

– Before the end of the contest period, go to the contest entry page at this link, and submit an essay between 900 and 1500 words in length on the topic of “the benefits of a more restrained, careful foreign policy for the United States.”

To be eligible to submit a contest entry, you must be enrolled as of the spring of 2018 or fall of 2018 in an accredited postsecondary institution or program listed in the U.S. Department of Education’s most recent database (http://ope.ed.gov/accreditation/GetDownLoadFile.aspx). No person may submit more than one contest entry. Attempting to submit multiple contest entries will result in your disqualification from the contest. Your participation in the contest is optional and at your sole and absolute discretion.

4. PROHIBITED CONTENT: By entering the contest you agree not to create or submit a contest entry that:

– Infringes on any patent, trademark, trade secret, copyright, or other proprietary or property rights of any party;

– May be deemed, within the meaning of Law, to be electioneering communications, intervention in a political or electoral campaign, or lobbying;

– Is unlawful, threatening, harassing, abusive, obscene, vulgar, harmful, tortious, defamatory, libelous, false, invasive of another’s privacy, hateful racially, ethnically, or otherwise, or in any other way objectionable;

– You do not have the legal or contractual right to make available pursuant to any Law, or under any contractual or fiduciary relationship (such as inside information, proprietary information, and confidential information, learned or disclosed as part of employment relationships or under nondisclosure agreements);

– Harms minors in any way; or

– Violates any Law, intentionally or unintentionally.

The sponsor reserves the right to disqualify any and all contest entries that violate the above conditions, or for any other reason at any time without prior notice.

5. JUDGING AND SELECTION OF PRIZE WINNERS: All contest entries will be judged based on the following criteria:

– Originality in thought (30 percent)

– Demonstrated understanding of foreign policy (40 percent)

– Composition and style (30 percent)

6. PRIZES: On or about June 99, 2018, three prize winners will be announced (the “Prize Winners”). The Prize Winners shall receive the following (the “Prize(s)”):

– First Prize—$1000.00, two years’ subscription to The National Interest

– Runners Up (two)—$250.00, one year subscription to The National Interest

All Prizes will be paid in United States Dollars. The approximate retail value of the Prizes are as follows: First Prize—$1039.95; Runner Up—$279.95. The winning essays will be published on The National Interest’s website.

7. PRIZE RESTRICTIONS: The specifics of all elements of the Prizes stated in these contest rules shall be determined by sponsor in its sole and absolute discretion. If an alternate prize is substituted and awarded: any portion of the alternate prize not used by any Prize Winner is forfeited and no substitute will be offered or permitted; all elements of the Prize being offered are: (a) provided “as is” with no warranty or guarantee either express or implied by sponsor; (b) without warranty other than that offered by servicers or as required by Law; (c) provided without making the sponsor responsible or liable for any warranty, representation, or guarantee, express or implied, in fact or in law, relative to the Prize, including but not limited to their quality or fitness for a particular purpose; and (d) if applicable, not transferable or redeemable for cash and may not be extended, transferred or substituted, except that the sponsor may substitute a prize of equal or greater value when necessary (not to exceed $1039.95 for the First Prize or $279.95 for the Runner Up), as determined in its sole and absolute discretion (any such changes will be announced at the sole and absolute discretion of the sponsor). Each Prize Winner assumes sole responsibility for all costs associated with any elements of the Prize not explicitly included as part of the Prize, including without limitation, all federal, state and local taxes (if any), fees, surcharges, or other expenses. Other restrictions may apply. In compliance with United States Internal Revenue Service regulations, the sponsor will send a Form 1099-MISC to any Prize Winner, which requires disclosure to the sponsor of the Prize Winner’s Social Security number. Prize Winners remain solely responsible for paying all federal and other taxes in accordance with Laws that apply in the Prize Winner’s state of residence.

8. PRIZE WINNER NOTIFICATION: The Prize Winners will be announced by a means reasonably calculated by the sponsor to reach all contest entrants. Following the announcement of the Prize Winners, the individuals selected as the Prize Winners will be notified via email or telephone within three days from the date of selection by the sponsor based on the information provided by that person on his or her entry form. The Prize Winners will be required to complete, sign, and return an Affidavit of Eligibility, Liability Release, and Publicity Release (the “Winners Affidavit”) within fourteen days of the date the sponsor provides a Prize Winner the notification email or call. If a Prize Winner fails to satisfy any eligibility requirements, declines to accept the Prize, or is ineligible for any other reason, the Prize Winner may be disqualified and an alternate winner may be selected at the sole and absolute discretion of the sponsor. Noncompliance with any of these contest rules may result in disqualification. The sponsor is not responsible for fraudulent communications made by third parties to contest entrants or the Prize Winners. A Prize Winner is not an official winner until the Prize Winner returns the Winner’s Affidavit and eligibility has otherwise been formally verified by the sponsor.

9. OWNERSHIP OF YOUR CONTEST ENTRY: By submitting your contest entry you hereby relinquish, grant, transfer, assign, and deliver to the sponsor all right, title, and interest of every kind and nature whatsoever that you have in the essay you write as part of your contest entry, including the copyright and all other intellectual property rights thereto. As a condition of receiving your prize, you may be required to execute additional documentation such as copyright assignments to sponsor of your contest essay. In addition, you hereby irrevocably assign to the sponsor all causes of action, including accrued, existing, and future causes of action, arising out of or related to the rights, including copyrights, in and to the essay you write as part of your contest entry.

10. DISPUTES: By participating, entrants release sponsor and its parent companies, affiliates, subsidiaries, and their members, directors, officers, employees, and agents from any and all liability with respect to all aspects of the contest including all losses, damage or bodily injury resulting from participation in this contest, and the possession, acceptance, or misuse of prizes. By entering the contest, you agree that (a) any and all disputes, claims, and causes of action arising out of or connected to the contest or the prize, shall be resolved individually, without resort to any form of class action; (b) any and all claims, judgments and awards shall be limited to actual out-of-pocket costs incurred, including costs associated with entering the contest but in no event attorneys’ fees; and (c) under no circumstances will any entrant be permitted to obtain any award for, and you hereby waive all rights to, any claim; punitive, incidental, or consequential damages; and any and all rights to have damages multiplied or otherwise increased and any other damages, other than for actual out-of-pocket expenses. All issues and questions concerning the construction, validity, interpretation, and enforceability of these contest rules, or the rights and obligations of the entrants and sponsor in connection with the contest, shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of Virginia without giving effect to any choice of law or conflict of law rules or provisions that would cause the application of the laws of any jurisdiction other than the Commonwealth of Virginia. Any legal proceedings arising out of this contest or relating to these contest rules shall be instituted only in the federal courts located in the Eastern District of Virginia, and the parties consent to jurisdiction therein with respect to any legal proceedings or disputes of whatever nature arising under or relating to these contest rules. The invalidity or unenforceability of any provision of these contest rules shall not affect the validity or enforceability of any other provision. In the event that any provision is determined to be invalid or otherwise unenforceable or illegal, these contest rules shall otherwise remain in effect and be construed in accordance with their terms as if the invalid or illegal provision were not contained in these contest rules.

11. INTERNET: If for any reason this contest is not capable of running as planned due to an infection by a computer virus, bugs, tampering, unauthorized intervention, fraud, technical failures, or any other causes beyond the control of the sponsor that corrupt or affect the administration, security, fairness, integrity, or proper conduct of this contest, the sponsor reserves the right at its sole and absolute discretion to cancel, terminate, modify, or suspend the contest. The sponsor assumes no responsibility for any error, omission, interruption, deletion, defect, delay in operation or transmission, communications line failure, or theft, destruction, or unauthorized access to or alteration of entries. The sponsor is not responsible for any problems or technical malfunctions of any telephone network or telephone lines, computer online systems, servers, or providers, computer equipment, software, failure of any email or entry to be received by the sponsor due to technical problems, human error or traffic congestion on the internet or at any website, or any combination thereof, including any injury or damage to your or any other person’s computer relating to or resulting from participating in this contest or downloading any materials in this contest. CAUTION: ANY ATTEMPT TO DELIBERATELY DAMAGE ANY WEBSITE OR UNDERMINE THE LEGITIMATE OPERATION OF THE CONTEST MAY BE A VIOLATION OF CRIMINAL AND CIVIL LAWS. SHOULD SUCH AN ATTEMPT BE MADE, THE SPONSOR RESERVES THE RIGHT TO SEEK DAMAGES OR OTHER REMEDIES FROM ANY SUCH PERSON(S) RESPONSIBLE FOR THE ATTEMPT TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW. Uses of automated devices are not valid for entry.

12. USE OF INFORMATION: The information that you provide in connection with the contest may be used by the sponsor to inform you about related opportunities and developments involving charitable or educational topics that the sponsor thinks may be of interest to you. The sponsor may also share the information you provide in connection with the contest with its subsidiaries, affiliates, divisions, and third parties in order to advance charitable or educational goals, and as otherwise stated in the sponsor’s terms of use and privacy statement.

13.GENERAL: By entering this contest or accepting the Prize, you (a) agree to be bound by the sponsor’s policies, these contest rules, and the decisions of sponsor which are final and binding in all respects; and (b) consent to the use of your name, voice, picture, and likeness for charitable, educational, advertising, and promotional purposes in any medium throughout the world in perpetuity without additional compensation unless prohibited by law. The sponsor reserves the right to correct typographical, clerical, or printing errors in any contest materials. The sponsor reserves the right to prohibit any person from participating in the contest if, at its sole and absolute discretion, the sponsor finds such person to be tampering with the entry process or the operation of the contest, or if such participant repeatedly shows a disregard for or attempts to circumvent these contest rules, or acts: (x) in a manner the sponsor determines to be not fair or equitable; (y) with an intent to annoy, threaten, or harass any other entrant, the sponsor, or related entities; or (z) in any other disruptive manner. The sponsor reserves the right to cancel, terminate, modify, or suspend the contest at its sole and absolute discretion.

14. WINNERS’ LIST/CONTEST RULES: To request an official prize winners list or a copy of these contest rules, both available through September 1, 2018, send an email to john.gay@jqas.org.

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