A Boy Makes Anti-Muslim Comments In Front Of An American Soldier. The Soldier's Reply: Priceless.

Rossalyn Warren

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?

Meena: Yeah.

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?

Oliver: No.

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?

Meena: [inaudible]

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.

There may be small errors in this transcript.

Flash Video Embed

This video is not supported by your device. Continue browsing to find other stuff you'll love!

Hi there, internet friend. We need to talk. You're using a painfully old web browser, and frankly, it's getting a little weird. It's not safe, and we want the best for you. We think it's time to upgrade.

Download Google Chrome, and try it for a week. Don't think about it, just do it. You'll thank us later.