Another perspective of from the tragedy of last year’s Boston Marathon


RUNNING THE BOSTON MARATHON IN A HIJAB

Leanne-290Like many participants in the Boston Marathon on Monday, Leanne Scorzoni will be running to honor the victims of last year’s bombing. But Scorzoni will also be running in a hijab: she converted to Islam after the attack, and wants her participation to emphasize that Boston’s Muslim community was also hurt by the bombings.

Scorzoni has never run the race before, but the thirty-two-year-old Boston native has watched from the sidelines for decades. Scorzoni was raised in nearby Danvers, and every year her family would arrive at a spot near the corner of Clarendon and Boylston Streets at about 8:30 a.m. sometimes bringing pots and pans to help cheer on marathoners.

Last year, Scorzoni staked out the same spot near the finish line and waited to be joined by a friend of hers named Sam. Unfamiliar with Marathon Monday tradition, he arrived late and, at about 2:30 P.M., he asked where the nearest bathroom was. Scorzoni was reluctant to give up her view of the race, but eventually agreed to guide her friend through the crowds. When the bombs exploded at 2:50, the two were browsing at a nearby Banana Republic on Newbury Street, approximately four blocks away from the finish line. The store’s loud music muffled the blasts, but when Scorzoni turned on her cell phone, she found dozens of texts from friends and family, asking where she was and if she was O.K.—she had been standing less than two blocks away from the initial explosion. Scorzoni doesn’t believe a divine power carried her away from the attack that killed three people and injured more than two hundred and sixty: “It was because my friend had to pee,” she said.

The next day, Scorzoni says, local F.B.I. agents visited her at her job at Massachusetts General Hospital, where they asked about a photo she had uploaded to Facebook of Sam, who is Muslim and from the Middle East. Shaken by the bombing and the encounter with the F.B.I., Scorzoni regularly checked in on her Muslim friends in the days after the bombing. As the media began to sort out the background of the Tsarnaev brothers, local reports also began to surface of sporadic verbal and physical attacks on Muslims, and of hate mail being sent to mosques, including the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center, in Roxbury, which the Los Angeles Times originally reported that Tamerlan Tsarnaev had attended, confusing it with the Islamic Society of Boston, located in Cambridge. Scorzoni read about the letters on the center’s Facebook page, but she also saw the many comments of support that came from across the country.

Leanne ScorzoniScorzoni was raised Catholic, but she abandoned the Church in 1999, shortly after family members publicly announced that local priests had sexually abused them. “I was eighteen; I was angry. I was just like, I’m not doing this anymore,” she said, adding that she would often belittle friends and family members over their religious beliefs.

Years later, one of her relatives who had been abused told Scorzoni that he had gotten over his anger toward religion and that she needed to do the same. When she moved back to Boston, in 2011, she remembered seeing many ads for the I.S.B.C.C. on public transportation around the city, and later found out that the center was two blocks from where she lived. She first visited the I.S.B.C.C. in the summer of 2012; on her way to the grocery store, she asked a woman who was leaving the mosque if anybody could visit. “I was thinking it was like Mormonism, where only Mormons can go in,” she said.

Scorzoni went into the center’s bookstore, where she met Sam for the first time and engaged in a three-hour discussion about religion with the shop’s owner. As she began to make new friends at the mosque, she would observe prayer services and occasionally sit on prayer rugs and meditate. The I.S.B.C.C. thus became a special place for her: it was she where she began to feel comfortable again with being in religious surroundings. In Islam, Scorzoni found “more of a sense of ritual and meditation and contemplation I wanted in my life.”

Five weeks after the bombing, she called Suhaib Webb, the imam of the I.S.B.C.C., and told him that she was ready to convert. She walked to the mosque in jeans, a shirt, and flip-flops; after the ceremony, she and Sam celebrated just as casually, eating watermelon and chicken fingers on the mosque’s steps.

The I.S.B.C.C. has been a visible force in the local Muslim community’s efforts to support victims of the bombing. Last Friday, the I.S.B.C.C. organized a khutbah, or sermon, in remembrance of victims, and, on Tuesday, Webb spoke at a night of “Remembrance and Hope” at the Old South Church. Scorzoni was also in attendance and, at one point during the evening, runners were asked to stand. “Everyone started clapping, and all the runners just started crying, and soon everyone was crying,” she said. “Everyone in the church prayed for all of us, not even just the runners—prayed for the city.”

While she regularly attends services and will wear a hijab on Monday, Scorzoni also carries what she describes as “white privilege,” which many other Muslims do not have. She works part-time teaching English as a second language; many of her students are young Muslims living alone in the United States or working seventy-hour weeks to support their families here. She knows that the Tsarnaev brothers, who lived in the United States for almost a decade, also had better upbringings than many other Muslims in the area, and thinks that their actions left lingering scars for those who dissociate from their radicalism.

“I just see it as the same way there’s good Catholics and you have the Westboro Baptist Church,” she said, referring to the extremist group that often stages protests against the gay community. “It’s just such a helpless anger, when you curl your hands into fists and you just want to say, ‘You’re forcing everyone else to go five steps back from where they’ve come from.’ These two kids just cheated other people out of their livelihood, their spots—people who could’ve made their own lives better.”

Two other I.S.B.C.C. members will join Scorzoni on Monday to run in the marathon. Officially, Scorzoni is running to raise money for Massachusetts General Hospital’s Center for Pediatric Hematology and Oncology. But, when people ask Scorzoni what they can do to help, she tells them to go to the marathon and show that the tradition will continue, uninterrupted.

On Monday, when Scorzoni crosses the finish line, her family will be there to cheer her on, as will Sam and other friends from the I.S.B.C.C. “I believe we are moving away from, ‘Hey, look, a Muslim doing something normal,’ ” Scorzoni said. “Now we see a myriad of cultures and religions here, as it should be.”

 

 

America rejects Arabs even at memorials


RAY HANANIA

Like all Americans this week, I paused to commemorate the tragic violence that took place at the end of the Boston Marathon last year on April 15 killing three and injuring 263 more.

But I was disappointed that the one-year commemoration in Boston of the terrorist killings reflected the same kind of selfish commemoration that has cloaked many past acts of violence. Muslims and Arabs were excluded, as if we were not Americans.

I can tell you upfront that I am an American. I am insulted that people in the US continue to stereotype their anger to direct their hatred against people who are Arab or Muslim. I can tell you that unlike most Americans, I served in the US military active duty during the Vietnam War. I was proud to be able to continue what my brother and father and uncle did, all of whom served in the US military.

My father and uncle served four years through World War II fighting the Nazis in Europe and defending freedom as much as anyone else who wore or did not wear a military uniform. Yet, they and I are constantly disrespected by the undercurrent of revenge hatred that permeates America today.

The Boston terrorists, Tamerian Tsarnaev and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, happened to be Muslims. And in their planning of this vicious attack, they asserted that they were defending Islam, as if Islam had chosen them as the religion’s defenders.

The fact is the two killers just happened to be Muslims and in fact were not true Muslims. They were not Arab. Yet Americans continue to hold Arabs and Muslims responsible for every act of violence by every crackpot who comes from the Middle East or a Muslim country. The Tsarnaevs were from Chechnya, where the Muslim population has been brutalized by the Russians.
They don’t represent Islam. They don’t represent Arabs. And they certainly don’t represent me, or other Arabs, Christian and Muslim, who continue to be persecuted and vilified in the news media and by political opportunists who seek to exploit the growing racism in America to advance their individual political agendas.

I know that I could have sung “America the Beautiful” as powerfully and as meaningfully as anyone. I am as patriotic and more patriotic than any of those who were invited to speak at the commemoration ceremonies.

I was disappointed, but not surprised, that no high profile Muslims or Arabs representing the other victims in this vague and blurring concept of the “War on Terrorism” were invited to speak or participate or to express their own patriotism and demonstrate that they are “Boston Strong,” too.

Just this past week, a white man was arrested and charged with the murder of four innocent civilians at Jewish community centers in Kansas City, yet no one dared to denounce him as a “white terrorist” or as a “Christian terrorist.” The suspect’s Christian religion suddenly had become insignificant, even though it reflects a disturbing far rightwing corner of American militant and fanatic Christians.

He’s “different” from Christians and doesn’t represent the “Christian” religion. Yet somehow, all Muslims and even Arabs, Christian and Muslim – and yes, Christian Arabs do exist America – are represented by the self-proclaimed two Islamic terrorists who murdered innocent Americans so viciously and so cowardly in Boston last year.

I want to know when the real America will return? When will the America that stands up for justice, freedom and fairness return to this country? When will Americans stop pretending to embrace the US Constitution and the “American way” and start living it? Stop talking and start doing. Because what many Americans are doing is not what America stands for.

I’m an American. I’ve done more than most Americans by serving my country when the call to stand up and put my life on the line was made when I was younger. I didn’t hesitate. I was there in uniform ready to fight, doing what I was told.

And I am tired of having to remind people who claim to be American, but are not, that I am more of an American than they could ever be. Because I believe in justice. I believe in fairness. I believe that one man’s insanity does not represent the beauty of an entire race of people. I reject racism. I reject racial hatred. I reject xenophobia. I reject discrimination.

I embrace true American patriotism, which means speaking for and defending every American regardless of their race, religion or their creed. And, added to that, true American patriotism means that we stand together regardless of the race, religion or the creed of the terrorist fanatics who deserve our scorn as a nation.

I happen to be Christian, too. But if you think of me as a Muslim, I am as proud to be thought of that way as I am proud to be a real American.

Ray Hanania is an award-winning Palestinian American columnist. He is the managing editor of The Arab Daily News at www.TheArabDailyNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @RayHanania.

Ali Abunimah’s-Obama’s rush to judgment: Was the Boston bombing really a “terrorist” act?


From The Electronic Intifada

by Ali Abunimah

President Obama has repeatedly claimed that the Boston Marathon bombing was an “act of terror” and that its alleged perpetrators are “terrorists.”

It may seem pointless to quibble with this description: after all what could be more “terroristic” than setting off bombs at a peaceful sporting event killing three persons, one a child, and injuring or horrifically maiming dozens more?

But in fact how the act is described is very important in determining government, media and wider societal responses, including ramping up racism and bigotry against Muslims, Arabs or people of color.

There can be no doubt that the Boston Marathon bombing was a murderous act, but does it –– based on what is known –– fit the US government’s own definitions of “terrorism”?

It is important to recall that other, far more lethal recent events, including the mass shootings in Aurora, Colorado and the school massacre at Sandy Hook, Connecticut have not been termed “terrorism,” nor their perpetrators labeled “terrorist” by the government. Why?

Obama’s changing descriptions

In his first statement shortly after news emerged of the bombing in Boston on 15 April 2013, Obama pointedly did not describe the attack as “terrorism.” The term is totally absent from his statement. He does say, “We still do not know who did this or why. And people shouldn’t jump to conclusions before we have all the facts.”

It was only the next day on Tuesday, 16 April, that Obama first called the bombing an “act of terrorism” after media had pressed the White House on the issue.

Last night, after 19-year-old suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was captured by police, Obama made a statement declaring: “We will investigate any associations that theseterrorists may have had. And we’ll continue to do whatever we have to do to keep our people safe.”

In his weekly video address today, Obama reaffirmed, “on Monday an act of terrorwounded dozens and killed three people at the Boston Marathon.”

Official definitions of “terrorism”

The US government has no single definition of “terrorism” but the National Institute of Justice at the US Department of Justice points to two influential standards that are in use, one enshrined in law and the other provided by the FBI:

Title 22 of the U.S. Code, Section 2656f(d) defines terrorism as “premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents, usually intended to influence an audience.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) defines terrorism as “the unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.

Both definitions of terrorism share a common theme: the use of force intended to influence or instigate a course of action that furthers a political or social goal. In most cases, NIJ researchers adopt the FBI definition, which stresses methods over motivations and is generally accepted by law enforcement communities.

What was the “political” or “social” goal of the Boston bombing?

Based on these definitions, what distinguishes a “mass shooting” such as Aurora or Sandy Hook on the one hand, from an act of “terrorism” on the other, is that the mass shooters have no political goals. Their act is nihilistic and is not carried out in furtherance of any particular cause.

So far, however, absolutely no evidence has emerged that the Boston bombing suspects acted “in furtherance of political or social objectives” or that their alleged act was “intended to influence or instigate a course of action that furthers a political or social goal.”

Nor is there any evidence that the two suspects are part of a group. Indeed, on Sunday,The Boston Globe cited Boston officials to report that, “all evidence thus far indicates they were acting alone and were not part of a broader conspiracy.”

Neither of the suspects is known to have made any statement of a political or other goal for their alleged action and there has been no claim of responsibility. Obama, in his statement last night, admitted as much:

Obviously, tonight there are still many unanswered questions. Among them, why did young men who grew up and studied here, as part of our communities and our country, resort to such violence? How did they plan and carry out these attacks, and did they receive any help?

So why is Obama calling them “terrorists?

Since Obama has no idea why the alleged suspects may have resorted to violence and no one else has offered an evidence-based explanation, why is Obama already labeling them “terrorists” when he himself warned against a “rush to judgment?”

The only explanation I can think of is the suspects’ identification as ethnic Chechens and Muslims, even though there is no evidence that they acted either in relation to events in their ancestral homeland or were motivated by any Islamist ideology.

True, Obama did switch to calling the Boston attack “terrorism” before any facts were known about the identities or backgrounds of the suspects, but it was also before anynew relevant facts were known. Once those identities became known, Obama’s statements have only fed careless, prejudiced assumption so common on cable television: they’re Muslims, so they must be “terrorists.”

This may be the easy and populist way of looking at it, pandering to prejudice as Obama so often does, but it is irresponsible and violates official US policy that Obama seemed, at least on the first day, willing to observe.

How acts are labeled is highly political: recall the controversy over whether Obama was quick enough to label the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya, last September as “terrorism,” and the continuing demands that the government designate the November 2009 mass shooting at Fort Hood, allegedly perpetrated by Major Nidal Hasan, as “terrorism.”

All of these cases reinforce the widely noted observation that acts of violence, especially mass shootings, carried out typically by white males are immediately labeled as the acts of “disturbed individuals” while the acts of a person identified as “Muslim” are to be labeled “terrorism” regardless of the facts.

These are unsafe assumptions and foreclose the possibility of full understanding. Moreover, by reinforcing popular stereotypes, they give new force to the anti-Muslim backlash that seems only to be growing stronger and more poisonous as the 11 September 2001 attacks recede into the past.

It is also important to note the contrast between Obama’s eagerness to label the Boston attack as “terror” and its alleged perpetrators as “terrorists” – without evidence – and his reluctance to label last August’s mass murder at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin as “terrorism” despite the identification of the shooter as having a history of white nationalist and supremacist activism.

Perhaps the first serious consequence of labeling Boston a “terrorist” attack was the Obama administration’s decision to deprive the suspect who was captured of his constitutional right to receive a Miranda warning on arrest, a further thinning of the already threadbare pretense of “rule of law” in post 11 September 2001 America.

Could this be another “Columbine?”

Let’s consider another possibility. Exactly 14 years ago today, 20 April 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold executed a carefully-planned attack on Columbine High School in Colorado, using guns and bombs.

The two seniors murdered 12 fellow students and one teacher before shooting themselves.

Like the Boston Marathon bombing allegedly was, the Columbine attack was carried out by two persons, and it involved some of the same methods: homemade explosives.

But the Columbine attack is remembered as a “school shooting” or a “mass shooting” – perhaps the most iconic of a sad litany of such events – but not a “terrorist” attack.

In his essential 2009 book Columbine, Dave Cullen tells the story of the attack in meticulous detail, debunking many of the popular stereotypes that persist to this day that the attack was meant to avenge bullying by “jocks.”

The evidence that emerged is that Harris was a clinically sadistic sociopath who had no ability to empathize with other human beings. Klebold was a depressive whom Harris was able to manipulate. These facts lay at the heart of what happened.

It is definitely not any more desirable in the wake of such atrocities to have a media frenzy stigmatizing all people with mental illness as potential killers any more than we want them to stigmatize all Muslims as potential terrorists – in fact people with mental illness are no more likely to be violent than anyone else, and are indeed more likely to be victims of violence. And contrary to popular stereotypes fed by the media it is exceptionally rare for Muslims to become “terrorists.”

What we do need is patient, serious and informed analysis: could the relationship between the Boston suspects be similar to those of the Columbine killers? What other factors are at at play? I don’t know, but I cannot rule anything out.

Just like President Obama, I do not know what drove the alleged Boston bombers. What I do know is that when the media and the government, egging each other on, rush to judgment, the possibility of alternative scenarios is ruled out and getting to the truth is harder.

If Boston was “terrorism” based on the little that is known, then we must be able to answer these questions: can only white or Christian males be sociopaths, or suffer from other mental illnesses that under certain conditions lead to violence?

Can only two white Colorado high school students act as a pair without “terrorist” motives? Can “Muslims” or ethnic Chechens, or Arabs never be subject to the same kind of conditions or analysis?

Surely the survivors and families of the Boston bombing deserve no less of an accounting of what happened than the victims of Columbine?

We cannot and should not rule out that evidence will emerge that the alleged Boston bombers had a political motive. But it hasn’t so far.

What we have seen is the usual rush to judgment that has left Muslims and many people of color once again fearing collective blame and the governmental and societal retribution that comes with it.

Update, 21 April: Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz on Boston Marathon bomb and “terrorism” definition

A few hours after I published this post on 20 April, I heard Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz on the 20:05 GMT edition of the BBC World Service Newshour making some of the exact same points I made in this post, a jarring experience since I usually strongly disagree with his advocacy on Israel.

Dershowitz was responding to members of Congress who called for the government to treat surviving Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev as an “enemy combatant” and to deprive him of his constitutional rights. Already, the Obama administration has deprived Tsarnaev of his Miranda rights. I have transcribed Dershowitz’s key comments:

Dershowitz: Well if they [the members of Congress] were in my class they would flunk out of law school … It shows a complete and total ignorance of the United States constitution. This is an American citizen being charged with committing a crime on American soil against Americans.

It’s not even clear under the federal terrorism statute that this qualifies as an act of terrorism. In order to prove it’s an act of terrorism they have to prove that they had certain kinds of intentions and motivations. But it’s a perfect trial to try in the civilian courts. There’s no plausible argument that would take this case out of the civilian courts and would put it into any kind of a military tribunal.

BBC: They’ve referred to the US Supreme Court decision Hamdi vs. Rumsfeld which said that there is no bar to the US holding one of its citizens as an enemy combatant. That part they say is certainly established in law.

Dershowitz: Well yeah, an enemy combatant but who’s the enemy here? These are two young men, we have no idea what their motivation was, particularly the young man who was captured alive. As far as we know he has never been in direct contact with anybody from any foreign country. They’re just making it up. And they’re allowing their perception of bias to influence the facts of the case. This case, this will be tried in a civilian court in front of a jury…

It’s been decided-Marathon Bombers were Muslim-Chechen Immigrants


bombingA terrible thing happened on Monday, 15 April at the Boston Marathon.  Three people were killed and scores maimed and injured towards the close of the Marathon by two brothers. The act was atrocious; bodies were strewn everywhere and victims were young, old, male or female and from places all over the country and the world.  To begin this post let us remember the names of the victims, who were Martin Richards, 8 years old; Krystle Campbell, 29 and Lu Lingzi, a Boston University graduate student.  There are others who have been forever damaged by this senseless act of violence; they, corporeally, will never be whole again and neither  will the Nation; scarred beyond recognition despite the slogans of resilience and courage.  No doubt there was plenty of that which was demonstrated that day; people helping and saving the lives of strangers in ways that tested the endurance of both the helper and the victim.  Such displays are what make America great and humanity even greater, we reach across  cultural divides and help those who need it without regard to race, color or creed.

However, just as I began by mentioning the names of the victims of America’s latest tragedy without any regard to where they come from, what they believe and the color of their skin, no such consideration is given to the perpetrators of this heinous crime, Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev,19 and his 26 year old brother Tamerlan who have had their ethnicity and faith dragged into the fracas of this brutal and callous act of murder in attempts to further demonize the perpetrators, their ethnicity and their faith. Indeed such identification in today’s American jargon is just as calculated and fatal meant to cut through bone and flesh and spirit as any pipe bomb or drone missile.  Taking a page from age old, proven concepts, words are the first weapon used to denigrate and ease the way towards genocide and cultural extermination and they have been used with precision and skill.

It began with President Obama’s first speech about the bombing where he was remiss in not saying the word “terrorism“.   Pundits, reporters and the general public hung on his every word at the first speech just hours after the bombing and they all made sure to point out that this one word, terrorist was missing from his vocabulary at that time, as if somehow the deaths of three innocent lives was less important without have that word uttered.  Every speech thereafter was flooded with the buzz word enough that it obscured any other point or lesson to be learned  from this latest tragedy and instead returned America to its roots of racist ideology which points to “others” as being unworthy of consideration, or the rights and privileges of citizenship.  Somehow, the purveyors of this brutal form of 21st century America punditry are able to parlay all of what’s negative about our diversity and turn tragedy into a plethora of causes it seeks to push at the expense of our civic cohesiveness.  Terrorism, immigration, radical Islam, government have become piggy back issues detractors have seized upon to push before the deceased have even been accorded their rights to an eternal rest.

Radical Islamic terrorism of course was the first cause which was promoted to an anxious audience before the last bomber was even captured.  That mantle of “radical Islam” was hung around the necks of the two brothers simply because of where they hailed from or what videos they might have added to their YouTube channels and yes it is true there are Muslims who embrace an ideology of violence to address what they consider are injustices but that is not relevant to Islamic beliefs as much as it is to their own personal demons. youth That Muslim organizations the world over denounced for the umpteenth time the brothers’ murderous rampage and the expulsions the older brother faced twice from Muslim masajid in his area because of his virulent rhetoric should speak to the legitimacy of Muslim condemnation of what took place that fateful week.  It’s impossible to find, outside of the imagination of the two suspects any rationality for their murderous impulses, among ANY community much less America’s Muslims.  That seems to go unnoticed however, as the events of the week invigorated a smoldering Islamophobic community that has been practicing its craft since 911.

No one could see that this violence so closely echoes all the other episodes of mass killing that have become sporadic constants  in our lives, borne out of rage and disenchantment with things personal and social?  How could a fan of movies kill scores of people in his object of obsession a movie theater; how could an emotionally dependent young man kill his doting, loving mother on his way to seek revenge on others who were not guilty?  The Boston suspects’ actions sprouted from a rage that began with a Ruslandysfunctional family dynamic that was no more clearly evident than during the “interview” given by Ruslan, the uncle of the suspects.  Even his act of contrition seemed filled with rage……his staccato cadence dripping with anger towards his nephews and family.  Yet the painfully obvious was ignored by most who weighed in on the side of fear and racial animus in describing what happened in Boston.  “He was a Muslim”, declared Tom Brokaw, the implication nothing else matters; to some not even the crime he committed was important absent reference to his faith.  Indeed , even being white offered the two no escape from the curse of being Muslim.  Joan Walsh in one of her pieces for Salon.com noted,

Over its long history America has regularly featured a process of sorting white from non-white, even among European immigrant groups. I’m not a huge admirer of the now-dated whiteness studies academic movement, but those scholars did help illuminate the way various groups of European immigrants, particularly the Irish, but also Jews, Italians and Eastern Europeans, “became” white over time, in a complicated process of determined assimilation, gradually lessening prejudice by existing “white” society, and most important, the arrival of newcomers to take the place of the scapegoated non-white other, alongside the definitive non-white scapegoats, African-Americans. Embracing racism and xenophobia, sadly, could be a shortcut to white status for previously non-white European immigrants.

…..or disavowing one’s faith.  America is in the firm grip of racism and xenophobia towards Muslims.  It doesn’t matter if you’re white, black, American, European, Caucasian, Arab, Asian…..you are all lumped into the one category of being a terrorist and therefore the rules of civilization no longer apply to you.

Which brings me to the final point of this tragedy and that is how quickly everyone seems to talk about abandoning the rights we’re given by our Constitution and codified over the years.  The ugly specter of torture and waterboarding has resurfaced….some claiming the younger brother should have been tortured to extract information.  Mention has been made of declaring him an enemy combatant, indefinite detention, not allowing him access to a lawyer, trial by military tribunal in essence making him persona non grata effectively disappearing him from our view.  How many of us know what has happened to Jose Padilla, another American who was subjected to labyrinthine exegesis of a judicial system determined to strip him of his humanity because he is Muslim.  The fear index has produced in all of us this desire to rid ourselves of undesirables by any means necessary, including illegal and unconstitutional ones in order to feel safe.  What’s unfortunate about that is we falsely apply our fear  to groups of  people with a very large bull’s eye on their collective backs while ignoring other groups we’re not so interested in targeting at this time.  DVHonestly, we are a Nation awash in violence.  It plagues our cities and communities on a daily basis.  On the normal scheme of things killing three people is about the average for violent deaths in America.  Not even a week after the Boston bombers were corralled five people were murdered in Seattle, Washington in a domestic violence dispute that barely made the news and we don’t even know who they are or why they died. Moreover after hearing about such news one would not even suggest that we resort to the types of punishment now being mentioned in media that should apply to the lone Boston bomber suspect in custody.   No race, tribe, group of people are immune to the ravages of violence and Muslim Americans are no exceptions, but just like we don’t do in 99% of the violence we encounter as a Nation daily, ascribing a motive to that violence that centers around ethnicity or religious belief or imparting to an entire group of people the sins of some one of its wayward members is as evil an act as any perpetrator of a crime.  Fix this America!

This is what happens to Muslims in America who are in the wrong place at the wrong time


THE SAUDI MARATHON MAN

POSTED BY AMY DAVIDSON

A twenty-year-old man who had been watching the Boston Marathon had his body torn into by the force of a bomb. He wasn’t alone; a hundred and seventy-six people were injured and three were killed. But he was the only one who, while in the hospital being treated for his wounds, had his apartment searched in “a startling show of force,” as his fellow-tenantsdescribed it to the Boston Herald, with a “phalanx” of officers and agents and two K9 units. He was the one whose belongings were carried out in paper bags as his neighbors watched; whose roommate, also a student, was questioned for five hours (“I was scared”) before coming out to say that he didn’t think his friend was someone who’d plant a bomb—that he was a nice guy who liked sports. “Let me go to school, dude,” the roommate said later in the day, covering his face with his hands and almost crying, as a Fox News producer followed him and asked him, again and again, if he was sure he hadn’t been living with a killer.

Why the search, the interrogation, the dogs, the bomb squad, and the injured man’s name tweeted out, attached to the word “suspect”? After the bombs went off, people were running in every direction—so was the young man. Many, like him, were hurt badly; many of them were saved by the unflinching kindness of strangers, who carried them or stopped the bleeding with their own hands and improvised tourniquets. “Exhausted runners who kept running to the nearest hospital to give blood,” President Obama said. “They helped one another, consoled one another,” Carmen Ortiz, the U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts, said. In the midst of that, according to a CBS News report, a bystander saw the young man running, badly hurt, rushed to him, and then “tackled” him, bringing him down. People thought he looked suspicious.

What made them suspect him? He was running—so was everyone. The police reportedly thought he smelled like explosives; his wounds might have suggested why. He said something about thinking there would be a second bomb—as there was, and often is, to target responders. If that was the reason he gave for running, it was a sensible one. He asked if anyone was dead—a question people were screaming. And he was from Saudi Arabia, which is around where the logic stops. Was it just the way he looked, or did he, in the chaos, maybe call for God with a name that someone found strange?

What happened next didn’t take long. “Investigators have a suspect—a Saudi Arabian national—in the horrific Boston Marathon bombings, The Post has learned.” That’s the New York Post, which went on to cite Fox News. The “Saudi suspect”—still faceless—suddenly gave anxieties a form. He was said to be in custody; or maybe his hospital bed was being guarded. The Boston police, who weren’t saying much of anything, disputed the report—sort of. “Honestly, I don’t know where they’re getting their information from, but it didn’t come from us,” a police spokesman told TPM. But were they talking to someone? Maybe. “Person of interest” became a phrase of both avoidance and insinuation. On theAtlas Shrugs Web site, there was a note that his name in Arabic meant “sword.” At an evening press conference, Ed Davis, the police commissioner, said that no suspect was in custody. But that was about when the dogs were in the apartment building in Revere—an inquiry that was seized on by some as, if not an indictment, at least a vindication of their suspicions.

“There must be enough evidence to keep him there,” Andrew Napolitano said on “Fox and Friends”—“there” being the hospital. “They must be learning information which is of a suspicious nature,” Steve Doocy interjected. “If he was clearly innocent, would they have been able to search his house?” Napolitano thought that a judge would take any reason at a moment like this, but there had to be “something”—maybe he appeared “deceitful.” As Mediaite pointed out, Megyn Kelly put a slight break on it (as she has been known to do) by asking if there might have been some “racial profiling,” but then, after a round of speculation about his visa (Napolitano: “Was he a real student, or was that a front?”), she asked, “What’s the story on his ability to lawyer up?”

By Tuesday afternoon, the fever had broken. Report after report said that he was a witness, not a suspect. “He was just at the wrong place at the wrong time,” a “U.S. official” told CNN. (So were a lot of people at the marathon.) Even Fox News reported that he’d been “ruled out.” At a press conference, Governor Deval Patrick spoke, not so obliquely, about being careful not to treat “categories of people in uncharitable ways.”

We don’t know yet who did this. “The range of suspects and motives remains wide open,” Richard Deslauriers of the F.B.I. said early Tuesday evening. In a minute, with a claim of responsibility, our expectations could be scrambled. The bombing could, for all we know, be the work of a Saudi man—or an American or an Icelandic or a person from any nation you can think of. It still won’t mean that this Saudi man can be treated the way he was, or that people who love him might have had to find out that a bomb had hit him when his name popped up on the Web as a suspect in custody. It is at these moments that we need to be most careful, not least.

It might be comforting to think of this as a blip, an aberration, something that will be forgotten tomorrow—if not by this young man. There are people at Guanátanmo who have also been cleared by our own government, and are still there. A new report on the legacy of torture after 9/11, released Tuesday, is a well-timed admonition. The F.B.I. said that they would “go to the ends of the earth” to get the Boston perpetrators. One wants them to be able to go with their heads held high.

“If you want to know who we are, what America is, how we respond to evil—that’s it. Selflessly. Compassionately. Unafraid,” President Obama said. That was mostly true on Monday; a terrible day, when an eight-year-old boy was killed, his sister maimed, two others dead, and many more in critical condition. And yet, when there was so much to fear that we were so brave about, there was panic about a wounded man barely out of his teens who needed help. We get so close to all that Obama described. What’s missing? Is it humility?

 

Patience…..


The two bombs that ripped through the 2013 Boston Marathon  re-opened wounds that had begun to heal since 911 and no where was this fresh scab more apparent than in the airwaves and bandwidth of Main Stream Media.  Throwing aside conventional wisdom which includes waiting for things to reveal themselves, pundits began almost immediately with speculation about whodunnit.  It didn’t help matters that a young and innocent Saudi student was tackled at the scene of the blast and scooped up by authorities who had to admit after a period of time that he was just as much a victim as everyone else who was in the vicinity of the blast, media trumpeted the interest authorities had in him as if he was the main suspect who was about to be charged with the crime.  Media didn’t bother to wipe the egg off their collective face when Boston and no doubt federal authorities admitted the young man was not a suspect or player in the events of that dreadful day….they just simply ignored their faux pas and moved on, but the tension their errant speculation caused revealed the problem with America today and the obsession too many have with placing collective blame on people and especially those who are Muslim.

Over time this has produced an opposite and equally repulsive reaction from Muslims who start condemning acts of violence as if there life depended on it.  In today’s America it probably does since the knives of Islamophobes are sharpened with the venom of  their own special brand of racism which they hope will drive America into an apocalypse whose goal is grander and broader than anything Hitler imagined in pre WWII Germany. Eric Rush’s tweets of ‘kill all Muslims’ within hours of the bombings are the most nerve racking and persistent sentiment voiced by ‘phobes and it has America’s Muslims ready to do and say anything to distance themselves from any tragedy.  Explosion at Boston marathon

About this tendency to obsequiously deny acts of violence ad nauseum, Tasbeeh Herwees had this to say

This is modus operandi for any Muslim organization in the U.S. after a terrorist attack: condemn, condemn, condemn. This is how we’re expected to respond. It doesn’t matter that no Muslim or Arab has been implicated in the attack. It is inconsequential that no other religious organizations are called on to do the same. In a post-9/11 world, Muslims and Arabs have become the default scapegoats for all terrorist plots, hence the pre-empting of the accusations.

Muslims for the present are the only group expected to make this kind of absolution; they require it from themselves as much as their non-Muslim citizens.  It has become their role in today’s America to assure people even when such assurance is not required that they are against an act of violence that may be attributed to one of them.  Muslim America has accepted the cloak of collectivism whereby any one person no matter how heinous, villainous, obnoxious the act may be, no matter how reprehensible and outlandish can be even remotely connected to the body and thus equal in guilt.  No other group in today’s America has taken or accepted that mantle.

white privilegeIn today’s news cycle we’ve heard of a prison official in Colorado gun down in his home by a white supremacist; a young mass murderer who took revenge against a school that housed people who bullied him many years before and a husband and wife team who killed Texas prosecutors for some perceived  injustice they felt murder was the appropriate punishment, yet not one white male or Christian group has volunteered to condemn the actions of this body of people who share their ethnicity.  Their silence, in the face of this news onslaught was defeaning and caused me to tweet on 14 April, ‘white males need to be profiled’  in order to bring attention to the fact that real crime does occur at the hands of people other than swarthy complexioned people with strange accents; that there are terrorist minded white people in places of close proximity to us who are just as lethal and scary and perhaps we should keep a closer eye on them than we have in the past. Of course no such thing will happen and Tim Wise in a very nice piece says why

As the nation weeps for the victims of the horrific bombing in Boston yesterday, one searches for lessons amid the carnage, and finds few. That violence is unacceptable stands out as one, sure. That hatred — for humanity, for life, or whatever else might have animated the bomber or bombers — is never the source of constructive human action seems like a reasonably close second.

But I dare say there is more; a much less obvious and far more uncomfortable lesson, which many are loathe to learn, but which an event such as this makes readily apparent, and which we must acknowledge, no matter how painful.

It is a lesson about race, about whiteness, and specifically, about white privilege.

I know you don’t want to hear it. But I don’t much care. So here goes.

White privilege is knowing that even if the Boston Marathon bomber turns out to be white, his or her identity will not result in white folks generally being singled out for suspicion by law enforcement, or the TSA, or the FBI.

White privilege is knowing that even if the bomber turns out to be white, no one will call for whites to be profiled as terrorists as a result, subjected to special screening, or threatened with deportation.

White privilege is knowing that if the bomber turns out to be white, he or she will be viewed as an exception to an otherwise non-white rule, an aberration, an anomaly, and that he or she will be able to join the ranks of Tim McVeigh and Terry Nichols and Ted Kaczynski and Eric Rudolph and Joe Stackand George Metesky and Byron De La Beckwith and Bobby Frank Cherry and Thomas Blanton and Herman Frank Cash and Robert Chambliss and James von Brunn and Robert Mathews and David Laneand Michael F. Griffin and Paul Hill and John Salvi and James Kopp and Luke Helder and James David Adkisson and Scott Roeder and Shelley Shannon and Dennis Mahon and Wade Michael Page andByron Williams and Kevin Harpham and William Krar and Judith Bruey and Edward Feltus andRaymond Kirk Dillard and Adam Lynn Cunningham and Bonnell Hughes and Randall Garrett Cole and James Ray McElroy and Michael Gorbey and Daniel Cowart and Paul Schlesselman and Frederick Thomas and Paul Ross Evans and Matt Goldsby and Jimmy Simmons and Kathy Simmons and Kaye Wiggins and Patricia Hughes and Jeremy Dunahoe and David McMenemy and Bobby Joe Rogers andFrancis Grady and Demetrius Van Crocker and Floyd Raymond Looker, among the pantheon of white people who engage in (or have plotted) politically motivated violence meant to terrorize and kill, but whose actions result in the assumption of absolutely nothing about white people generally, or white Christians in particular.

And white privilege is being able to know nothing about the crimes committed by most of the terrorists listed above — indeed, never to have so much as heard most of their names — let alone to make assumptions about the role that their racial or ethnic identity may have played in their crimes.

White privilege is knowing that if the Boston bomber turns out to be white, we  will not be asked to denounce him or her, so as to prove our own loyalties to the common national good. It is knowing that the next time a cop sees one of us standing on the sidewalk cheering on runners in a marathon, that cop will say exactly nothing to us as a result.

White privilege is knowing that if you are a white student from Nebraska — as opposed to, say, a student from Saudi Arabia — that no one, and I mean no one would think it important to detain and question you in the wake of a bombing such as the one at the Boston Marathon.

And white privilege is knowing that if this bomber turns out to be white, the United States government will not bomb whatever corn field or mountain town or stale suburb from which said bomber came, just to ensure that others like him or her don’t get any ideas. And if he turns out to be a member of the Irish Republican Army we won’t bomb Belfast. And if he’s an Italian American Catholic we won’t bomb the Vatican.

In short, white privilege is the thing that allows you (if you’re white) — and me — to view tragic events like this as merely horrific, and from the perspective of pure and innocent victims, rather than having to wonder, and to look over one’s shoulder, and to ask even if only in hushed tones, whether those we pass on the street might think that somehow we were involved.

It is the source of our unearned innocence and the cause of others’ unjustified oppression.

That is all. And it matters.

The next time a crime is committed that captures the public’s attention perhaps the first thing we should do is turn off the television, radio and laptop and just wait for the dust to settle.  If we can’t do that then we should demand that every group in America who has a member that has committed a violent crime in the past should take turns collectively condemning and distancing themselves from an unknown perpetrator.  We certainly cannot expect any ONE group to continue to carry this burden.  It’s not just so fix it, America!

hat tip to @ZahraBilloo