This powerful social experiment set out to show us a glimpse of the disturbing discrimination many Muslims sadly face every day in America. I began watching this video thinking I would be left feeling disheartened and angry, but the words the soldier says at 5:05 are so powerful that I wish all people who held prejudice could hear him speak.
Oliver: Since when are they hiring Muslims around here?
Narrator: Muslim-Americans are no strangers to stereotypes.
Oliver: Bet you go home and learn how to make bombs. Get on a plane back to Pakistan.
Narrator: More than a decade after 9/11, hate crimes against Muslims are on the rise.
Newscaster 1: A woman in custody facing hate crime charges after telling police she pushed the man to his death because she thought he was a Muslim.
Narrator: And the Boston Marathon bombing has them fearing even more backlash. We traveled to the town of Kingston in upstate New York, not far from where a mosque was desecrated in 2010.
Newscaster 2: A racial slur was spray-painted on the wall of a mosque.
Narrator: And we've set up shop at the Home Plate Deli.
Meena: May I help you?
Narrator: Meena [SP], the man behind the counter . . .
Meena: I'm playing the Middle Eastern victim.
Narrator: . . . and Oliver, the racist provoking him . . .
Oliver: I am the bigot.
Narrator: . . . are both actors.
Oliver: I don't want a terrorist touching my food or taking my order.
It's a terrorist behind the counter.
Narrator: Not much reaction until this man speaks up.
Customer A: What are you giving him a hard time for?
Oliver: He's a Muslim.
Customer A: He didn't do nothin' to you, man.
Oliver: They want to blow up the whole country.
Customer B: Not everybody is like that. You know what I mean? We've got to be better than that. Understand what I'm trying to say?
Oliver: We are better than that. We're Americans.
Customer A: Then get your [inaudible] and leave. You're pissing me off. Act like a jack wad in here in front of all these people. You don't have to carry on like an [inaudible] wipe.
John Quinones: Obviously, he bothered you.
Customer A: Everybody's afraid to say something to him. I wasn't. Look, I would've been happy just to deck him, but . . .
Narrator: Back at the deli counter, Oliver isn't talking turkey, but 9/11.
Oliver: You a Muslim?
Oliver: I don't want an Arab Muslim taking my order. Can I talk to an American?
Meena: Let me take your order and . . .
Oliver: No, no, no, no. I don't want you to take my order. I didn't forget 9/11, buddy. Okay? They're Muslim. Terrorists.
Meena: Do you want to buy this or do you . . .
Oliver: I can't believe this.
Meena: . . . or do you want to leave?
Oliver: You can't believe this?
Customer C: I can't believe you. I feel like I'm in a dream right now. Is this really happening?
Oliver: Do you forget 9/11?
Customer C: I'm sure that that kid was not involved in 9/11.
Oliver: Relatives were. He represents his people.
Customer C: Are you going to make that judgment of everybody that you see that looks different than you?
Oliver: I know what an American looks like. I'm an American.
Customer C: You know what an American looks like, and they're all white? Is that what you're saying?
John Quinones: Say to her, look, I'm like your brother.
Oliver: We're family. I'm just like your brother.
Customer C: I would hope that my brother wouldn't act that way, dude. I hope that my brother never acts the way you're acting right now.
John Quinones: And you're clearly affected by it, hmm?
Customer C: I have a little brother. Feel like a lot of young kids might think that way. They might be, you know, nervous about everything that did happen and not know . . .
John Quinones: Mm-hmm.
Customer C: I don't think that it's right for people to act that way.
Narrator: Over the course of the day, more customers stand up for our Muslim deli worker.
Customer D: I think you're being inappropriate right now. If you're not happy, you need to leave.
Customer E: I'm not okay with the way you're talking to him. You're being, like, so racist.
Customer F: Everybody that's walking around like that is a terrorist?
Oliver: He looks like one.
Customer F: You're an idiot. I apologize for my friend here.
Narrator: And then we meet this man.
Oliver: Looks like a Muslim.
Customer G: Yeah.
Oliver: And I've just been coming here a long time. I just . . .
Customer G: I hear you.
Oliver: [inaudible] yeah, right, underneath they're Arab Muslim, you know. Forget that they're an American.
Customer G: Yeah, right.
Narrator: We wonder, does he really agree?
Oliver: I mean, this is how it starts, you know.
Customer G: Yeah.
Oliver: Start at working at one of these places, then . . .
Customer G: Yeah, send all the money home.
Oliver: Right. Well, I'm worried about, I don't know, like a bomb or something.
Customer G: Yeah, I don't trust any of them.
Oliver: Muslims say they hate our country, "Death to America."
Customer G: I know, I hear you.
Oliver: I mean . . .
Customer G: He's not the only one, man. You know what I mean?
Oliver: Yeah, there are a million of them. They all want to blow this place up.
Customer G: I hear you.
Narrator: Time for us to hear more from him.
Customer G: I agreed with him.
John Quinones: You agree with what he was saying.
Customer G: He was telling the truth. You know what I mean?
John Quinones: Some people watching this might say it's racist.
Customer G: Yeah, some people might. It's kind of hard to see the difference between Muslim, terrorists . . .
John Quinones: You're not saying they're all terrorists, are you?
Customer G: No, I'm just saying it's hard to decide who's who. I mean, they blend in with regular communities, get regular jobs, you know, learn what they need to learn, do what they need to do, and then they strike, and then [inaudible ] happens.
Narrator: Now the final test.
John Quinones: This is a soldier. He's in uniform.
Narrator: A member of the U.S. Army steps up to the counter.
Oliver: Hey, [inaudible] this guy's a Muslim.
Narrator: Is he laughing?
Oliver: Why's that funny?
Customer H: Hold on. What happened?
Oliver: This guy's a Muslim.
Customer H: We live in America, and he can have any religion he wants.
Oliver: Aren't you fighting against these guys?
Customer H: Not at the moment. Right now I'm ordering a sandwich.
Oliver: I don't think he should be working here.
Customer H: Buy your chips and move out.
Narrator: He doesn't follow orders.
Oliver: Look, I'd like to order some food, just not from you. Okay?
Customer H: Get out. Put the chips down and go buy them somewhere else.
Oliver: You want me to leave this place?
Customer H: You have a choice to shop anywhere, just like he has a choice to practice his religion anywhere. That's the reason I wear the uniform, so anyone can live free in this country. Leave the man alone, buy your stuff, and leave.
Narrator: Time to tell this soldier this is one battle he no longer has to fight.
John Quinones: How are you, sir?
Customer H: How are you, sir?
John Quinones: I'm John Quinones, with ABC's "What Would You Do?"
the TV show.
Customer H: You got to be kidding me?
John Quinones: He was an actor. People might say that's very heroic, what you said. Is it?
Customer H: No, sir. No, heroes come in many shapes and sizes, that wasn't heroic at all. I was just being a person and standing up for someone else.
John Quinones: Well, what principles were you defending?
Customer H: Everyone's inalienable rights.
John Quinones: Everyone's?
Customer H: Everyone's in this country.
John Quinones: If you're Muslim?
Customer H: It doesn't matter to me, sir. If you're an American, you're an American, period.