April 19 marked the 18 anniversary of the Oklahoma City Bombings, a terrorist attack that killed 168 people and injured over 800. The one word never used to describe the attacker, Timothy McVeigh, is Christian.
When the suspects turned out to be of Chechnayn background, a phrase we heard too often over the last week was ‘The Boston bombers were Muslims”.News outlets have speculated on Tsarnaey’s intentions, many times relating it to ‘radical Islam’ when clearly an act of terror does not have a religion or identity and are clearly acts bred of hatred.
Speculators leapt to the assumption that it was related to the Islamic faith, and as observers of the news we have allowed this to be a norm. We have no way of really knowing whether it was related or not, but the issue is that we allowed the leap of violence to one faith be created and accepted it as a norm.
What the media should be doing is informing us on the justice process, the Tsarnaey brothers undergo. It shouldn’t be playing a role in breeding fear and using a labeling factor; a labeling factor that causes far too many acts of terror. The Sikh-temple shooting exhibited the effect of giving acts of terror a face, six lives were lost as Wade Michael Page confused Sikhs to be Muslims.
In Malden, Mass, Heba Abolaban, a Palestinian doctor was punched as she walked down the street with a friend on Wednesday. The man shouted “F–k you Muslims!” and “You are involved in the Boston explosions,” according to the Malden Patch.A Bangladeshi man named Abdullah Faruque, who grew up in Bronx was viciously beaten for appearing like an Arab on the day of the bombing. He didn’t even know what had happened, and could not understand why he was called “a f–king Arab” as three or four men beat him.
When one identity about a group of people is repeated, it becomes real in our minds. When we accept sensationalism by the media without a moment of reflection, we are letting the media educate us instead of thinking of what it actually means.
The trouble with that is the media’s priority is not honest coverage but increasing viewer ratings that dictate whether their station thrives or fails. The fear factor created is used to justify an economic interest via war in a region that is predominantly Islamic.
Throughout history, wars have been fought for the purpose of power and wealth, and that has not changed. The effect of believing that terrorism has a face, name, religion and complete identity impacts innocent individuals in our communities. It only serves to lessen our security as those capable of committing horrendous crimes escape the radar since they don’t fit a sweeping description. It robs anyone fitting stereotypical descriptions the right to be an individuals.
This fresh wave of Islamophobia has been felt by students in the Bellevue region; a veiled Muslim student attending BC was told “How are you, terrorist” as she stepped off her bus.
What Timothy McVeigh, Wade Michael Page, Nidal Hasan, Adam Lanza and the Tsanaev brothers have in common is their lack of humanity, and badge of hatred. What these acts do not have in common is an identity, religious idea or motive, yet our initial reaction splits into two categories, mentally troubled or religious fanatics.