The bombing at Boston Marathon has unleashed a tirade of anti-Muslim and anti-Arab sentiment on social media and by some US commentators. But no one should expect Muslim and Arab communities to apologize for what's NOT their fault.
I woke up to the news of the tragic bombing at Boston Marathon this morning (I live in California; 3 hours time difference).
First I checked on my friends in Boston. I needed to be sure that they are safe. Next, I checked to see the number of victims. Had I lived in Boston, I'd have checked the hospitals they were being sent to, and if they had the resources to take care of the victims. I'd also have rushed to donate blood if there was any need for it.
The last thing I did was to inquire about the criminals responsible and if any of them is in custody. Nothing so far on that, so all I can do is hope he/she/they are apprehended before taking more lives.
However, I couldn't help but notice in the process the vitriol against Muslims and Arabs. Nothing new, really. In the immediate aftermath of terror attacks, and even before any suspect is arrested, our communities are expected to stand up and defend themselves. To explain and to educate. We're not allowed to grieve the loss of life because we have to ensure no one thinks we're the ones responsible first!
I don't plan on doing any of that today. Neither am I planning on going out there and defending Muslims and Arabs in general. There are 1.5 billion Muslims and 350 million Arabs in the world. People like Erik Rush, who think all Muslims should be killed, can check with their psychologists. I obviously have no sympathy for extremists of any race, gender, creed or nationality.
You'd think 12 years (since 9/11) would be enough for people to figure out that all Muslims and/or Arabs are not terrorists. That's 12 years of wrongful blame-mongering in the media, humiliation by law enforcement, discrimination in employment and education and violent attacks on our peoples, homes and religious institutions in non-Muslim countries.
I wish that were it.
Thousands of people are murdered each year in terrorist attacks. Guess what: 99% of them are Muslims in Muslim countries. And before you think I'm peddling "whacko" positions, the killers are Muslims too. Some of the killers are also Arabs. But when was the last time you saw Pakistan, whose cities are the hardest-hit in the world by terrorist attacks, blaming all Arabs or all Muslims? Or Afghanistan? Or any other Muslim or Arab-majority country for that matter?
You know why?
Because they know that terrorists don't care if you're white, brown, black or green. They don't care if you go to a mosque, a synagogue, a church or the Jedi Temple. They want to kill you for their inhumane and delusional reasons, and as long as you die where they want you to die, that's enough for them. I know how the people in Boston feel. I have had Muslim friends blown to bits by bombs from these animals. And I've also had to deal with idiots pinning the blame on my person.
Enough is enough, though.
Read the news on the internet if cable TV can't remind you enough: this year in the US, the number of people killed in terrorists attacks by Muslims is 3. The number last year was zero. In 2011, 1 person was killed by a Muslim in a terrorist attack on US soil. Now compare those numbers to the number of victims of Aurora and Newtown alone: 40. I don't see the communities of the criminals responsible for Aurora or Newtown apologizing. I don't see their communities - White Americans and Christians - having to go out there and explain to people that they're all not terrorists. That's right, dude, they're not the ones under scrutiny for every single such act.
For 12 years, I have been "otherised". I have been told I can't grieve first. I have felt the urge to go out there and defend Arabs and Muslims because if I don't, it means I am aligning myself with terrorists.
For 12 years, I have tried educating people who are openly calling for my death in the face of overwhelming hatred, lost opportunity, humiliation and threats.
But I am no longer willing to do that.
Tell you what, if you are curious about Islam, walk into the mosque closest to you and I'm sure you will find some fellas to educate you over there. If you want to know about Muslims and/or Arabs and their reactions, get on social media and look around. The overwhelming majority of us are just as outraged as you are.
It's possible that the criminals responsible for the Boston Marathon bombing are Muslim and/or Arab. So what? Why should that assumption scare me or make me nervous? Why should I have to explain for something I, my family, friends, community and ethnicity are not responsible for? Why should the background of a bunch of despicable and cowardly criminals have any bearing on me?
I'm going to pray for the victims now. I'll thank the universe that my friends are safe and that those crazy guys were not able to kill more innocents and ruin more lives. I'm also hoping they will be found quickly and brought to justice swiftly.
What I'm not going to do is apologize.