South Boston, the Irish enclave.
I would imagine the demographics have probably changed a bit these days, but back then it was the rock solid Irish enclave of Boston. Rows of triple-deckers, all of which had Irish surnames on the doors.
So I was in some Southie ginmill having a beer and I got approached to donate to the IRA.
I didn't drink the Kool Aid then, and I won't drink it now. The bartender was one of those naive old types that tried to paint the romantic image of the downtrodden freedom fighter in my head.
I was pretty snappish when I tried to repaint the image in his head that the Provo IRA was nothing more or less than a bunch of terrorists. I asked the barkeep if he liked the idea of finding his daughter with her arms and legs blown off, and he paled.
"So why should I give money to someone that was going to do this to someone else's daughter?" I shot back.
I wound up getting 86'd, because several patrons looked at me thoughtfully and it looked like donations to the IRA were going to drop because I spoke out.
Let's fast forward to just after 9-11.
I was dealing regularly with several Muslims that worked as subcontractors for my employer and almost to a man they approached me and indignantly explained that they and their religion had nothing whatsoever to do with the WTC attacks.
They were pretty outspoken to me, and I was pretty frank with them when I made it clear that even though I believed them, not everyone else would. I told them they should watch their backs.
One of these men had lived in Afghanistan and had been fighting the Russians as a 12 year old kid. Interesting man.
When I suggested he start flying the flag at his residence, he indignantly pointed out that he had been doing that for the past several years, and had a hitch in the service under his belt and had obtained his citizenship a while back.
His goals in life were not any different than anyone else's. He wanted to be left alone to raise a couple of kids and have a decent place to live. I would have no problem with him being my neighbor. In fact, it might have a certain advantage as I could reasoably assume he wouldn't wolf down the last of my pulled pork and swill down a huge dent in my bottle of Jamesons 12 like Neighbor Bob did the last time I was home.
There's a lot of predjudice toward the Muslim community in this country, which is understandable because the Muslim community has been a little too quiet.
My beef with the bulk of the Muslim community is that they have elected to keep quiet and not cry out at the misdeeds of the people that are staining their religion.
The Muslim clerics in this country, along with their members should be screaming out that they have no part of the events going on that are being blamed on their religion.
The clerics should be singing out loud and clear from their pulpits, and the members of the faith should be making it clear that they want no part of terrorism shrouded under the banner of their religion.
Until that happens, the Muslim community had probably get used to being looked at with suspicion.
It's a shame, but that's the way it is.