In the recent aftermath of the bombing attacks that gripped the areas surrounding Austin, Texas, many have been asking why? Why did the Austin bomber do it, and why did he pick the victims he did? Many have said that there is nothing that links the victims together, that they all came from very different places and backgrounds. Except many seem to be forgetting one important detail. The three targeted victims were either African-American or Latino, but this seems to be largely ignored.
Mark Antony Conditt has repeatedly been described as “quiet, respectful, and reserved.” Almost any online article will describe him as such, as if those traits somehow excuse what has happened, or mitigate the damage somehow. He was a white, conservative, Christian terrorist, regardless of how you try to spin it. His quiet-ness or respectful-ness does not excuse or remove the fact that he terrorized a community for weeks and killed two people and injured several others. Yet, many seem to want to almost ignore that fact in exchange for making the Austin bomber an almost tragic figure. His religion is being used to make Mark Antony seem like an upright citizen, yet if he was Muslim, then virtually everyone would be saying he was a terrorist because of his religion.
All of the bombers targeted victims who were people of color, yet no one, be it law enforcement or the media, wants to even entertain the idea that his motives were not racially motivated, simply because he did not explicitly state so in his taped confession. This bomber’s race and religion is being used to make him seem like a sympathetic person, when with any other race or religion everyone would be jumping to use them as a motivator. People often like to act like white privilege is not something that actually happens, that it is not real. But what do else do you call it when a white domestic terrorist is treated like a misunderstood child rather than the menace and monster he is?
There have been a number of concerns since Donald Trump took office a little over two months ago. Various activist groups and minorities have been voicing their concerns about Trump’s attitude towards his new position and the effect his policies and his beliefs could have. And while there are definitely more immediate concerns with Trump’s policy making, there are many who are concerned with the long-term effects and potential results of a Trump presidency.
One of the more famous people voicing their concerns is George Takei, an actor who is most famous for his role as Sulu on Star Trek. He has said the current political climate looks similar to the time leading up to the mass internment of Japanese Americans in America during World War II.
George Takei was one of the many Japanese Americans who were unjustly placed in internment camps during WWII, and he fears that similar events many happen to people of the Islamic faith. He is concerned that the similar rhetoric used against Japanese Americans is now being applied to Muslims in America. People would say that a person of Japanese ancestry was an enemy of the state, just because they were Japanese, and now people are calling anyone of Islamic faith a terrorist (1).
At the rate things are going, will we end up having another national crime where we wrongly incarcerate an entire group of people because of baseless and bigoted fears? Trump has already issued a travel ban against Islamic countries and he did it within the first week of his presidency. What will happen two or three or four years down the road? We’ve already gone down this road before and it was a national embarrassment and an inexcusable act of mass discrimination. We need to make sure history does not repeat itself.
Donald Trump has been in office for a little over a week and already he has created huge dissent with blatant xenophobia and Islamophobia. Trump has banned travel from seven countries that have majority Muslim populations, and he has temporarily suspended any refugees from entering the country, all in the name of preventing terrorism (1). This is blatant racism and frankly disgusting and disgraceful behavior from America’s new president.
Trump has, not so subtly, shown that he believes that anyone from an Islamic country is a terrorist or is at least affiliated with or supports them. This is racism; it cannot be said enough. He is making a derogatory, sweeping generalization about one of the largest groups in the world based on the actions of a few who claim to be Islamic, and he has abused his power in an attempt to enforce this belief. In comparison, this is like saying every white male is a mass shooter who will unavoidably kill just because people like Dylann Roof have committed racist mass shootings. Or the fact that the majority of mass shootings (which are themselves acts of terrorism) are committed by white males (2). Why isn’t President Trump issuing an executive order to ban all white men from owning a gun or preventing them from entering the country? It probably wouldn’t seem fair to do that based on the actions of a relative few, would it? Then why would it be okay to do the same exact thing to immigrants and Islamic people? It’s an avoidable fact that the majority of mass shooters in America are white males, and it is arguable that many of the stereotypical terrorists that people are worried about really are of the Islamic faith. However, they may not understand that Islam is a religion that promotes justice, kindness, and goodness, and forbids acts of violence (3).
What Trump is doing is petty fear-mongering. He is trying to make people look away from his own incompetency and place all of the blame for the many issues and troubles on immigrants and the Islamic people. This is blatant racism and ignorant hypocrisy, and it promotes blind hatred. We are a country of immigrants; we are supposed to be a country that welcomes everyone and allows a place for people to practice their religion and beliefs. America is a land of freedom where people are safe in the knowledge that they will be welcomed into the country and be who they are. We even have a national monument promoting exactly this: the Statue of Liberty. There is a plaque at the base of the Statue of Liberty bearing these famous words from the poem The New Colossus: “Give me your tired, your poor, / Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free …” (4). Trump’s actions are distinctly un-American; immigrants are real human beings, not some unknown other. We should be welcoming them in, not taking federal action to keep them out. America is better than this, and we should act like it and not spout ignorant, hate promoting propaganda.
On September 15, a 9th grade boy brought a clock to school which he proudly made at home. Ahmed Mohamed, a son of a Sudanese-immigrant, was arrested at the age of 14-years-old, because his teachers suspected the clock was a bomb. The young boy simply wanted to impress his teachers with his engineering skills, but was subsequently punished for this seemingly innocent project with a three-day suspension and he may also be charged with making a hoax bomb. Many people, including the boy’s father, are worried that this is an act of Islamophobia.
With the 14th anniversary of 9/11 having recently passed, Americans –especially Muslim-Americans– have been reflecting on the ways the attacks that occurred have affected middle-eastern people around the world. One hashtag on Twitter (#AfterSeptember11) became popular as many Americans with middle-eastern ancestry shared their own experiences with Islamophobia since that day. One Twitter user recalled how her dad tried his best not to “look Muslim” because he feared that he would be attacked after the September 11th attacks. One user shared that her mother was murdered simply for being Muslim, because of Islamophobia caused by the paranoia that came with after 9/11.
Even 14 years after the attacks, there still seems to be a lot of paranoia surrounding Americans with middle-eastern backgrounds and appearances. In the case of Ahmed Mohamed, I do believe this was a case of Islamophobia, not because of the teachers concern that this Sudanese child had created a bomb, but the way he was treated after his arrest. Some teachers have expressed that they don’t believe this was a case of Islamophobia, as they’d be concerned no matter the background of the child. Putting that thought aside, we must address some facts of this case. This 14-year-old boy was interrogated by police without the presence of his parents. The principal even threatened to expel the boy if he didn’t provide a written statement.
What’s even more disheartening is that this boy stated that he would never bring any of his inventions to school again, despite being in an engineering class. The fact that a child who is obviously very talented and bright is now scared to invent and create is incredibly sad. What if this boy created something that could change the world forever? He will surely be scarred by this event, but my hope is that he doesn’t let this affect his brilliance and creativity.
What’s most concerning in my eyes, is the bigger picture: if we keep oppressing children simply because of their ideas and appearances, will we create a generation of kids afraid to speak up and make a difference? Although it’s hard to say if this is truly an act of fear created by Islamophobia, if we keep telling middle-eastern kids they have to be wary because people might not understand that their intentions are pure, could we be holding these kids back from becoming productive, creative members of society? Are we robbing them of their chance to shine in society and prove the misconceptions about them wrong?
There are many questions to be asked not only about this particular case, but about the overall consequences of the paranoia which has caused many middle-eastern Americans to fall suspect of terrorism. The events of September 11, 2001 have changed the world for many Muslim Americans and for anyone who make “look” Muslim in the eyes of the ignorant. Since that day, hate crimes against Muslims are still five times more common than they were before. It’s easy as non-Muslims to brush this off and not see it as a “real” issue, but it’s important that those of us who are not Muslim acknowledge these issues and be a voice for those who are.
In Chapel Hill, North Carolina, three Muslims were killed by a neighbor following a parking dispute.The original report makes it seem like the shooter, Craig Stephen Hicks, was just a lunatic who had enough of his neighbors and their disagreements about parking. However, looking at his Facebook page, it’s very obvious that Hicks considered himself an atheist. His profile picture was a red photo with the words“Atheists for Equality.” His cover photo, though, was a banner promoting anti-theism. This leads me to believe that Hicks may have murdered his neighbors over the parking dispute, but was especially motivated realizing they were part of the Muslim community.
Many are running to blame atheism for the murders, but judging by Hicks’ cover photo and photos of his gun, I believe Hicks was an anti-theist. Although many atheists detest religion, that doesn’t mean we’re completely against it. It’s possible to be both anti-theist and atheist, obviously. However, the anti-theist label is an umbrella that not all atheists want to be under.
Being atheist doesn’t necessarily mean you hate all religions and all religious people. It means you simply don’t believe in a higher being or afterlife. Being anti-theist is just as dangerous as being a religious extremist, because it breeds hate. Hatred for anyone simply because of their religion is a slippery slope. Holding hatred for a specific group to the point of calling yourself “anti” whatever can lead to violence, which is what I believe happened in this situation.
I don’t agree with religion if it interferes with my life in any way, but I don’t automatically hate someone simply for being religious. It’s a shame that Hicks displayed himself as atheist, but also anti-theist, because this will ultimately lead people to associating atheism with anti-theism. I, personally, don’t want to be associated with anti-theism because it’s hateful. I don’t hold any hate in my heart for people who are religious and who don’t interfere with my life. I’m not sure if Hicks had any interaction with his neighbors which may have involved them pressing their religion–but even if they did, that doesn’t give him a license to kill.
I’ve had many people press their religion on me, but I’ve never once thought about reacting violently. I’ve thought about replying with an anger-filled, intelligent argument, but I’ve never wished any harm to someone. Being anti-theist means wishing any form of theism would cease to exist. I believe religion can be poisonous if it affects the lives of others, but as long as the religious person doesn’t do harm to anyone in the name of their religion, I see no reason to be hateful towards them.
In the wake of these murders, there are going to be a lot of fingers pointing at atheists blaming them for hating religion, leading to the death of three innocent people. Just remember– there’s a difference between atheism and anti-theism.
Have you ever had someone stand up for you and try to convey the way you feel without ever actually asking how you feel? Like you’re helpless as an outsider butchers your worldview while, at the same time, trying to defend it?
That’s exactly how we feel when someone tells a white person to ‘check their privilege.’
White privilege is a concept brought about by members of minorities to try and silence Caucasians on issues such as race or culture. It’s almost like there’s a general notion that white people as a whole, are uncultured.
I’ve been listening to several episodes of Serial Podcast, which follows the story of a Korean teenager who was allegedly murdered by her Arab ex-boyfriend. Naturally, there is a huge culture shock, as it is a white reporter who conducts a lot of interviews with the boy’s Muslim family. The reporter asks many questions in an effort to understand the culture, in addition to the ones regarding the murder.
In a harshly critical review of the podcast, a writer for The Awl responds with an article about ‘white reporter privilege,‘ in which he blasts the reporter for going into detail about the effect ‘tiger parents’ may have had on the relationship. Tiger parents are a term that is very commonly used among foreign-born parents of teens who don’t allow their children to enjoy the luxuries of American culture — a slight step further than overbearing parents, if you will.
He even blasts the fact that she felt the need to mention that the victim’s diary was ‘like any normal teenage girl’s diary.’ Asserting that it shouldn’t come as a surprise that a Korean girl’s diary is normal, and that it’s rude to assume that normal is like that of a white person.
I looked back at the scene and found that she never tried to say that the diary was ‘normal’ for a Korean girl. The offensiveness in her phrasing can only be extrapolated if you really, really try. She meant that it was normal for a murder victim. There were no clues to suggest that her ex-boyfriend was the killer, and there was no mention of the Korean culture, other than the beginning of episode one, where she had to describe the victim.
I’m a minority. A mix of arab and hispanic, so I have the benefit of being educated in two cultures, as well as the all-encompassing American culture. Many times, our family has married outside of our own race, and these foreigners to our culture had to be educated in our customs and had to ask questions to ensure they got it right. There are many things we do that they’ll never understand, but that’s fine. No one should feel like they need to read a book on my culture before they sit at the dinner table with us. This reporter isn’t ignorant for wanting to know about the culture, she’s a human being.
There should be no us vs. them attitude when it comes to minorities and white people. It’s that kind of thinking that gets cops killed over issues that likely had nothing to do with race. Race-baiting has gotten extremely dangerous, as we’ve seen in the last few months, and it’ll only get worse as the media continues to paint this picture that we’re an oppressed species that will soon be white-washed.
The thing about American culture is that there’s so much to it. It’s not white culture, or even European culture for that matter. We’ve made it our own through the huge melting pot of races and cultures that live here. Why would anyone try and divide us up after we’ve collected all of the best from each, and made something amazing out of it?
It’s great to be proud of your culture, no matter what color your skin is. It’s even better to want to learn about another culture. Sure, some questions might seem rude or obvious, but to go as far as to publicly blast someone over the clash of cultures that came up in an investigation is ignorant. I would even go as far as to argue that those who refuse to leave their bubble in a cultural Mecca like the US is the real racist. Dividing people up into categories and groups is completely against what this country is about, and race-baiting has to end.
We’re minorities, and we can stand up for ourselves. We don’t need your help.
President Obama has had an awful time trying to get anything done in Washington. Legislators spend less time legislating and more time blocking Obamacare, while the media makes it look like he’s the worst president in history. It seems as if Obama has faced adversity at every turn. Continue reading Why We Can’t Have Nice Things: The Hitler hyperbole→
Many ignorant and uneducated Americans believe that all Muslims are terrorists, and that every single Muslim participates in and/or supports terrorist groups. After 9/11, many Americans created and subscribed to this very negative stereotype. I’m not blaming anyone other than the attackers and plane-jackers for this. Yet we, as Americans, have to move on and educate ourselves. Continue reading Islam and Christianity: From Al Qaeda to Westboro→