On September 11, 2013 in downtown Manhattan, I asked Abdel Elgendy — an Egyptian man, Arabic speaker, and World Trade Center reconstruction worker — how Arabic's absence among the translated 9/11 memorial brochures made him feel. He stood waiting for a bus near Zuccotti Park as the Freedom Tower reflected bright sunlight.

The initially stoic man lowered his face before looking up with wet eyes. He repeated "it's not fair" several times before his Brooklyn-bound bus arrived. As the driver turned onto Cedar Street, he passed a shouting woman with a sign whom I had interviewed earlier. She said Arabic was "too Muslim" for the memorial.

"This is America, after all. We speak English here."

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