Here we go again. Another terror plot. This time it was Boston that suffered the attack of a faceless, nameless evil. Around the world, there was an outpouring of solidarity. Even tweeps/bloggers/facebookers in Syria, which is currently in the throes of civil war, expressed their condolences to the American people. Meanwhile in America, the desire to point the finger inspired a subset of the population to go on anti-Arab/Islamic rants reminiscent of sentiments echoed in the wake of 9/11. Some vengeful individuals even translated the verbal hate into actions. A group of men in the Bronx. NY, physically assaulted a Bangladeshi man they believed to be an Arab Muslim. In light of the fact that the U.S. government, media and all associated authorities engaged in some degree of stereotyping and racial profiling, the tragic reactions of these men are not surprising.
What do I mean? Well, for one thing, the first suspect in the terror investigation by the Boston police was an innocent Saudi student who happened to be running in the marathon. He sustained serious injuries, and while he was recuperating in the hospital, his apartment was being thoroughly searched, his flatmate
harassed questioned. In other news, shortly after the bombings, two passengers were escorted off of a flight leaving Boston for engaging in “suspicious behavior”. Apparently, that’s what you’re doing if you’re speaking Arabic: being suspicious. Meanwhile, Arab and Muslim Americans across the country silently hoped and prayed that the masterminds behind the terror plot were not members of their own community. Khaled Beydoun summed up these sentiments very nicely in his Al Jazeera article: “Boston Bombers: Please don’t be Arab or Muslim”.
When two Chechan brothers were finally identified as the culprits, many Arabs breathed a sigh of relief. This is what has happened following every threat to national security since 9/11. Post-event hatred for Arabs and Muslims hits a high as we wait anxiously for our names to be cleared–which, more often than not, they are. But the national reaction remains the same, time and again. Timothy McVeigh was white. So was Adam Lanza. Dzhokar Tsarnaev and his brother were not Arab. So why is it that in the wake of tragedy the American public, media and government are always scrambling to use Arabs as their scapegoats? As I ask myself this question, I urge American readers to ask a few of their own.
What reason would the world have to hate America?
Is it ‘democracy’ we’re spreading?
How have the decisions and actions of the American government effected Iraqi and Afghan citizens?
What is day to day life like for those in Syria and the Palestinian territories?
Why are we more interested in the day to day lives of celebrities than our government’s foreign policy, and who encourages such distraction?
What is Islam?
What is Arab Culture like?
Beyond just asking–research, interact, and learn. It is only ignorance that allows media and governments room to manipulate. Turn off your televisions. Read. Reflect. Reconsider.