My husband doesn’t have a facebook profile, so as a consequence, he rarely sees the memes that make their way around the web (unless I send them to him, of course).
Yesterday, I came across this one, and I remember thinking (with no small dose of bitterness) that truer words have rarely been spoken. I’ve been engaged in a couple of different conversations about the use of the word “terrorist,” and about how that word has become synonymous with “Middle Eastern” in the last decade or so, and in the most polite of these discussions, I’ve been accused of being a “guilty liberal” who is afraid of language (which I think is kind of ironic, given what I do for a living, but whatever).
My beloved came home from work yesterday on a tear. There had been numerous – and patently false – reports that a suspect had been arrested in the Boston bombing case. Several of those reports indicated that the suspect in question was of Middle Eastern extraction (in fact, seemingly moments after the blasts, there were reports of a Saudi man being detained for questioning (which also turned out to be false) and this lovely little exchange on Twitter – notice the time stamps)
The truth is that we’re just as good at creating terrorists here as we are at encouraging them abroad. Let’s not forget that James Earl Ray and Byron De La Beckwith were white guys. Tim McVeigh and Terry Nichols were white guys. So was Jarred Laughtner. So was Scott Roeder and Jim David Adkisson and James W. Von Brunn and James Holmes. So was Ted Kaczynski and Bruce Edward Ivins.
Shall I go on?
The fact of the matter is that one’s national origin has exactly zero to do with one’s propensity to commit acts of terror. That we continue to allow the kinds of associations that I’ve been seeing (and continue to see) only perpetuates the violence, fear, and hatred. Stop it. Stop making assumptions about facts not in evidence. Stop lumping people together because of how they dress or their accent or their immigration status – and stop others from doing that when you witness it. We’re better than this; we HAVE to be, or we’re going to destroy ourselves. If we can’t figure this out, perhaps that’s no less than we deserve.