Today, while watching CNN, I was reminded once again about how history repeats itself, though not always in obvious ways.

I learned about these two hashtags:

I learned about them while listening to a discussion between CNN anchor, Carol Costello and Bobby Ghosh (Managing Editor of the business news website, Quartz). In the discussion, they mentioned President Obama’s reference to the movement #NotInMyName at yesterday’s speech to the United Nations.

According to the Huffington Post:

Led by East London-based charity Active Change Foundation, #NotInMyName gives a voice to young Muslims in the UK who have come together against the hate and violence espoused by the terror group, [ISIS].

Upon hearing about this hashtag, I clicked on the Twitter app on my iPhone and searched for #NotInMyName. “Bravo” flashed before me as I read some of the texts:



But that wasn’t the end of the discussion. Mr. Ghosh followed up by talking about the second hashtag I learned about today: #MuslimApologies.

The Washington Post  defines the hashtag as:

#MuslimApologies represents another reaction: Frustration over the assumption of collective responsibility.

#MuslimApologies is a generally sarcastic and humorous attempt by some Muslims to express their frustration.


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This isn’t the first time attitudes toward the Muslim community have reminded me of attitudes many held about people of Japanese descent (more than 60% of whom were Americans) after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

Here are a couple of similarities as I see them:

  1. As with the young Muslims who are using the hashtag #NotInMyName to disassociate themselves from ISIS, the Japanese living in America did not want to be associated with and thought of in the same light as the Japanese who attacked Pearl Harbor. Though they, of course, didn’t have the power of social media to distance themselves, some hung signs outside of their businesses and homes that declared they were American. And in interview after interview I found in my research for The Red Kimono, many former internees talk about how they did not resist going to the camps to prove they were loyal Americans.
  2. Mr. Gosh talked about the frustration of many Muslims about the attitude many hold that moderate Muslims do not speak up more against radical Islamists. Through my research, I learned that many Japanese held the same frustrations. There was little they could do to prove their loyalty and that they were no threat.



History repeats itself. That’s why we should remember it. I’ll admit, even with the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II being a part of my own family history–my mother was an internee–and even with all of the research I did to write The Red Kimono, I still sometimes find myself sliding into thinking about a group of people as all being the same as a radical relative few.

Sometimes the very media from which I learned about these hashtags can contribute to these attitudes.

But if we remember our lessons of the past, perhaps we’ll think twice before such attitudes become cemented into who we are.


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2 Responses to #NotInMyName

  1. Steve says:

    Thanks for this post Jan. It’s easy to stereotype and categorize and we’re spoon fed ways to do it, to think about groups of people in radical ways. It gives many of us a smug sense of righteousness, identifies an enemy we can lay our frustrations on and leaves us feeling we’re in the “right” group. Labeling is dehumanizing.  It’s an impulse that is completely contradictory to messages of all the great religions.

    • Jan Morrill says:

      Unfortunately, Steve, I think you’re right that we need an “enemy.” Too often I see “an enemy” as a uniting factor, whether it’s a cultural, political, religious–whatever the difference–enemy.

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