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A Dream in Doubt (2007)

7.6
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Ratings: 7.6/10 from 24 users  
Reviews: 1 user

A look at post-9/11 hate crimes against Sikhs in America.

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Title: A Dream in Doubt (2007)

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When you look like America's enemy, is the Dream worth the price? A Dream in Doubt is an immigrant story in a world in which patriotism has morphed into murder. When Rana Singh Sodhi's brother is killed in America's first post-9/11 revenge murder, he begins a journey to reclaim his American dream and fight the hate that continues to threaten his community. Written by Tami Yeager

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When his brother is murdered in America's first post-9/11 revenge killing, Rana Singh Sodhi begins a journey to reclaim his American dream and fight the hate that continues to threaten his community.

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January 2007 (USA)  »

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An important, moving documentary about ignorance and the need for national dialogue
10 June 2009 | by (Planet Earth) – See all my reviews

I watched "A Dream in Doubt" online and was absolutely riveted.

Here is a documentary - runs about an hour - about the first casualty in post-9/11 America. An innocent Sikh businessman, Balbir Singh Sodhi, from Mesa, Ariz., was gunned down outside his gas station by an ignorant drunk four days after the 9/11 attacks. And why was Mr. Sodhi killed? Because he wore a turban and a beard, and the shooter, Frank Roque, promptly thought Mr. Sodhi was a Muslim and responsible for the attacks.

Director Tami Yeager's marvelous documentary chronicles not only the events surrounding the shooting, but also a family's immense pain as they try to comprehend what happened and put their lives back together again, if possible.

What is startling about what happened in Mesa is that it was not an isolated incident. Across the United States there were attacks against Arabs, Muslims or anyone who looked like one.

Yeager noted that the U.S. Justice Department found that there were more than 750 hate crimes in the years soon after 9/11. But the Bureau of Statistic estimates the number was likely 15 times higher than that! I remember when Mr. Sodhi was killed and thinking to myself that someone could not be that ignorant or stupid as to not know the difference between a Sikh and a Muslim.

But then I saw a CNN interview with a Sikh gentleman in New York after he had been assaulted by teenage thugs and watched with incredulity as some kids on bikes rode by during the interview and yelled, "bin Laden," at the man.

It would be easy to blame such comments and the murder of Mr. Sodhi on ignorance. But it is much more than that. True, 9/11 was a catastrophic event that shook the national psyche. But, in the aftermath, it brought about this false sense of patriotism that made people, at least some people, to feel honor-bound to take matters into their own hands. We needed an enemy and we found one in Muslims and Arabs - or any brown-skinned person with a beard, for that matter - regardless of whether or not they had anything to do with the attacks on that awful day. Having a government eager to shred the Constitution and a frightened public willing to allow the government to do that didn't help matters, either.

Yeager's film is not an easy one to watch because you have a family that believes in the ideals of this great country fighting for survival amidst repeated threats.

There are moments in Yeager's film that are heartbreaking and will stay with you for a long time. Not because she milks them with needless emotion, but because of their simplicity and honesty.

You realize that these immigrants, who lost another member of the family when he was gunned down in San Francisco, still have faith in America.

Francis Ford Coppola's "The Godfather" (1972) begins with the line, "I believe in America." But there are times when it is hard to believe in America, when there are cases such as what happened to the Sodhi family or other immigrants, when you see the likes of Lou Dobbs and other TV hosts constantly bashing immigrants.

But then you also realize not everyone is like that. Your faith is restored when you see friends and neighbors of the Sodhis come out to support the family and speak out against what happened. Or, when you see a U.S. military lawyer fight for the rights of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. Or, when you see a man who lost two brothers to senseless gun violence tell Yeager that he still believes in America.

Please see "A Dream in Doubt." It is (legally) available free on many Web sites. Instead of going to a theater to see more rubbish that Hollywood churns out, sit back in your living room or office and spend less than an hour watching this remarkable, moving documentary that, among other things, emphasizes the desperate need for national dialogue on our differences.


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