Current Events & Hot Topics

Featured Posts
muslimah
Not in my name: A reflection on the Muslim and Arab American community response to the Boston Marathon bombings
May 1, 2013 at 5:02 PM

 

It has been nearly two weeks since the Boston Marathon bombings, yet no amount of time that will pass can alleviate the remaining shock of having, once again, become targets in our own backyards.  This time, the attack took place during one of our country’s most cherished annual traditions.  The first thoughts that Muslim and Arab Americans had were those of horror, fear and grief for the loss of innocent life. The second thought:  “Please don’t let the perpetrators be Muslim.”

The Boston Marathon is the world's oldest annual marathon, and ranks as one of the world's best-known road racing events.  This year, approximately 26,839 people registered for the event that also attracted 500,000 spectators, making it an ideal target for brothers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to commit their heinous attack before a worldwide audience. On April 15, 2013 at 2:50 PM EDT, as the race was winding to a close, two explosions occurred. The race was halted, preventing many from finishing. Three spectators were killed and more than 260 people were injured.

Three days later, the two prime suspects were identified, and a national manhunt ensued.  Our second greatest fear, after being attacked, was realized.  The suspects were, in fact, Muslim.  Almost immediately thereafter identification, and in some cases even before, the [now expected] public statements from Arab and Muslim American community organizations began to roll out; one after the other, condemning the attacks; Statements that, under any other circumstances, would not need to be made so vigilantly.  Of course we condemn the attacks!  Of course we stand in solidarity!  We are Americans as well.  We are also victims.  Those of us who did participate in the marathon, or attended, as spectators, were also targets of these indiscriminate criminals.  Yet, we somehow felt the need to set ourselves apart, once again.

As Americans, whether born here, or naturalized, our solidarity with our country of birth, or choice, continues to be questioned, and we have allowed ourselves some responsibility in this matter.  As a community, we insist on equality and fair treatment.  We continue to advocate that we are just as “American” as anyone else.  Yet in every instance, we have managed to reinforce those lines of separation.  We have become responsible for this self-fulfilling prophecy of guilt by association, thus creating an expectation that we ought to remain apologetic for these acts of terror that we are also victims of.  Our distorted thought process contradicts the very essence of the American values that we take pride in and cherish. 

We are quick to denounce, to reprimand, to condemn, as if we are the parents of some unruly children, whose actions we must apologize for.  The fact of the matter is that these individuals bare no relation to us.  They are not of us.  They do not share our beliefs, our ideology, or our character, and they certainly do not represent it.  They do not speak on behalf of us.  Therefore, we don’t need to speak above them and pander to an already cynical and skeptical society and media.  This skewed need to “disassociate” has caused us to inversely further associate ourselves with these individuals.

In 2001, shortly after the 9/11 attacks, during my tenure at an Arab American civil rights organization, I was asked by a New York Times reporter whether, or not the American flag hanging in my office had always been there, or whether I had displayed it only after the attacks.  As a U.S.-born citizen, who had only ever traveled outside of my home country once at that point, I was at first confused, then appalled and later offended by her question, which, in essence, was a question of my loyalty to the only country that I have ever considered home.  I resented the fact that I was being asked to explain, or defend myself to someone who knew nothing about me, or my community.  Sadly, over the last 12 years, we have grown accustomed to “explaining” ourselves.  It has become second nature to us.  If we are to be responsible for anything, it is for the image that we have created of ourselves, as a separatist, apologetic community, seeking acceptance among our very own.

It is time we take a hard look at ourselves and our actions over the past decade and reassess our own failures.  Only when we, as a community of Muslim and Arab Americans, can share in only the grief and horror, and not in the responsibility, can we even begin to move toward the true “freedom” and “equality” that we seek.  

Replies

  • stacymomof2
    May 1, 2013 at 6:25 PM

    BUMP!

  • KreatingMe
    May 1, 2013 at 7:02 PM

    Thanks for sharing that article. It's well written and thought provoking. It made me think about something, you may not like this comparison and it's not exactly a comparison.

     I'm a former Catholic, most of my family is devout Catholic and most of my friends know about my Catholic roots. I have found that in the minds of a great many people, all Catholic priests are already condemned as pedophiles. It burns my ass! It really does, I admit it. I have also noticed that it's expected that I condemn it. What is that about? I'm not a pedophile and I'm certainly not a priest. I can understand where that mentality  would really offend and anger people and how it further alienates them.  My moms side of the family is not Catholic. A few days ago I was talking to a relative on that side of the family, she was going on and on about the Catholic priest scandal and how awful it is. Which it is. See, I felt I had to add that. So, I made a comment about a wonderful priest I knew and how not all priests are pedophiles. She turned vicious in an instant. She started demanding questions of me; "What if that was your son? How would you feel? Well, what would you do if someone hurt your son in that way?" I mean, she was really nasty. I was stunned and speechless. What the hell?? Of course I wouldn't like it. I didn't say that it was ok to molest children, I said not all priests are molesters. I don't think they are nor do I think they're all involved in cover ups. So I can begin to understand how infuriating it can be.  

  • jjchick75
    May 1, 2013 at 7:30 PM

    Very well written! 

  • Euphoric
    May 1, 2013 at 8:24 PM

     bump

  • muslimah
    May 1, 2013 at 8:54 PM

     

    Quoting KreatingMe:

    Thanks for sharing that article. It's well written and thought provoking. It made me think about something, you may not like this comparison and it's not exactly a comparison.

     I'm a former Catholic, most of my family is devout Catholic and most of my friends know about my Catholic roots. I have found that in the minds of a great many people, all Catholic priests are already condemned as pedophiles. It burns my ass! It really does, I admit it. I have also noticed that it's expected that I condemn it. What is that about? I'm not a pedophile and I'm certainly not a priest. I can understand where that mentality  would really offend and anger people and how it further alienates them.  My moms side of the family is not Catholic. A few days ago I was talking to a relative on that side of the family, she was going on and on about the Catholic priest scandal and how awful it is. Which it is. See, I felt I had to add that. So, I made a comment about a wonderful priest I knew and how not all priests are pedophiles. She turned vicious in an instant. She started demanding questions of me; "What if that was your son? How would you feel? Well, what would you do if someone hurt your son in that way?" I mean, she was really nasty. I was stunned and speechless. What the hell?? Of course I wouldn't like it. I didn't say that it was ok to molest children, I said not all priests are molesters. I don't think they are nor do I think they're all involved in cover ups. So I can begin to understand how infuriating it can be.  

     It 's a very accurate comparison and one I too have used before.  I'm sick and tired of people expecting me and other Muslims like me apologize or explain for those who commit such atrocities. I am not a terrorist, I never blew anyone or anything up so I have nothing to apologize for or explain.

  • KreatingMe
    May 1, 2013 at 9:01 PM
    Kind of sad that this post got four replies.
  • muslimahpj
    May 1, 2013 at 10:19 PM
    Great post. I agree and feel the same way. Why should I have to apologize for something I had no part in its ridiculous.

    In one of my posts last week, someone asked why wouldnt I want to apologize for things like 9/11 or the Boston bombing. Really? Its stupid.
  • muslimah
    May 1, 2013 at 10:27 PM

     

    Quoting rcorley858:

    I saw a special where an actor musim woman and an actor shop owner pretended to refuse her service because of her scarf, the customers were the guinea pigs to see how they would react.  I myself got infuriated when she was refused service. (remember it was just an act)  Most people there just minded their own busiess, a few obnoxious people joined in, and few brave people got mad and put their two cents in.   That would have been me, i felt like i was watching germans refuse jews service because of the star on their clothes.   I don't think the average american is as calous as this writer thinks.  We hate injustice in any form.  We don't want you to apologize for something you had nothing to do with, but maybe you can understand if we turn to you for answers.  We are just trying to understand, and who do we ask but those kind muslims in our community that might be able to help us.  WE don't uderstand how they come to those conclusions based on a religion we know little about.  How can we unless we ask.  I know you (muslims) will be treated unfairly because of this, but really unfairnness is something every living person has experienced.  I have been misjudged because of my christian religion many times.  It is how we hold on to our dignity durring such experiences that defines us.  At least there were as many people in that shop that stood up for justice as those who were unkind.  

     I saw that show a while back. I don't mind questions at all. You are right if you don't ask you wont o know. I also like to answer the questions I just don't like when someone wants to back me in a corner with the attitude that I and others like me are obligated to explain for others act. And to be honest myself and the rest of us don't have the answers as to what goes on in the mind of a terrorist or murderer any more that you or anyone else because our mind does not think like theirs. I can however answer questions as th what Islam teaches about these awful acts which I am always happy to do.

  • muslimah
    May 1, 2013 at 10:51 PM

     

    Quoting rcorley858:

    I wonder if the person who asked you about the flag was just trying to reach out.  Maybe she was totally sympathetic of a fellow woman who has become so afraid of her own community that she might feel she needs to put an american flag in her office to define herself in the eyes of people she is becoming afraid of.  I mean maybe she was being horrible, horrible people are out there no doubt, but maybe she was just asking because she wondered how you were feeling. She wondered if it was a sign that you were feeling persecuted.  Your afraid,  i would be too, but maybe your fears are speaking to you louder than they should be.  The question about the flag didn't seem to be that deffinately prejudice to me.  Its good that you are voiceing the fears you feel.  I hope some people will post and try to ease them for you.

     I wasn't me who hung thag. This is an article from the Arab American News that someone else wote. I just posted it. I did include the link at the bottom if you are interested in the source or the author.

Current Events & Hot Topics

Active Posts in All Groups
More Active Posts
Featured Posts in All Groups
More Featured Posts