Aren’t You Glad It Isn’t Anyone Black? Putting to Rest The Myth of The Dark-Skinned Terrorist
You know, when there are calamities that befall our country like what happened on Monday at the Boston Marathon, there seems to be a knee-jerk belief among many that the terrorists must be from abroad and that anyone fitting the description needs a beat-down. Hey, this is not to suggest that the fear is unwarranted, especially when we have precedents with 9/11 and the earlier attack on the Twin Towers in the Nineties.
But it seems to me, especially from our news media and from the consciousness-impaired that all of these attacks must emanate from people of color, namely people from the Middle East, a considered trouble zone. Not necessarily, because we also have homegrown, right-wing, light-skinned to white people who practice bomb-making and are stockpiling weapons, and have some serious “issues” with the United States as if they were about to go to war at any moment. This reality seems to be lost on those whites for whom darkness and blackness are consonant with evil. They even justify the stockpiling and the bomb-making as defending themselves and others of like mind.
Lately, the specter of the dark-skinned terrorist flared up this week when so-called newsmen like CNN’s John King suggested from his “sources” that this is what Homeland Security was looking for—dark-skinned suspects. Now, “dark-skinned” could include a wide spectrum of people, from African Americans to Latinos as well as Muslims from the Middle East. Frankly, though, a brother wearing a kufi could be a target, even if he isn’t a Muslim, but just a right-thinking black nationalist or even a jazz musician who has consciousness. Naturally, at this pronouncement, all common sense and calm began to leave some citizens with them targeting the closest dark-skinned innocent people that they could find to vent their rage and racism. They only needed the right signal:
A Muslim woman in Boston says that she was attacked by a white man on on Wednesday morning because he was apparently enraged by the Boston Marathon bombings and convinced, despite a lack of evidence, that the perpetrators were Muslim.
Heba Abolaban told Malden Patch that she and her friend, who were both wearing hijabs, were walking on Commercial Street with their children when a white male in his thirties punched her in her left shoulder.
“I did not say anything to him,” she added. “Not even that we aren’t terrorists… he was so aggressive.”
After about two minutes of confrontation, the man left and Abolaban called her husband and police.
In my fading memory, after the Oklahoma City Bombing, I distinctly remember certain Muslim communities in Oklahoma and in surrounding states being intimidated, with a couple of their mosques being vandalized or burned. It was a lynch mob environment. Even a fearful expectant mother nearly lost her baby when someone hove a brick or large rock through a window of her house because the perp(s) knew that there was a Muslim family in the neighborhood. All because their less-than-tolerant neighbors thought that they—or a few of them—were responsible or needed a beat-down in revenge.
So when Timothy McVeigh and his co-conspirators were caught, there was a significant silence from these same citizens, along with a sense of feeling betrayed. And there weren’t any news of introspection and regret, apologies or restitution towards these Americans or American residents. The burden of proof of innocence is always on people of color.
Most Muslim Americans and residents are law-abiding citizens. They came here because their country or countries had become a virtual shambles, and the United States seemed to be the only place where they could live in relative peace. Right: with the more orthodox among them, they find that they cannot mistreat their daughters here without getting charged with child abuse or murder. They cannot hold people in slavery as they did in their homelands, and some of their youths are sympathetic towards radical Islamic elements.
But, by and large, they are peaceful. They just want to fit in, to learn how it is to be an American. They just want to be left alone to raise their families and practice their religion. I know that they hate the discrimination, the baiting, the physical injuries and even murder that they face here with a passion. They know that they are being spied on by the local and state authorities and even the Feds. However, this is their home too, and they are willing to stay here and submit even to this as the price of being eventually accepted as in the mainstream of American citizens.
However, don’t even think that people of color don’t target each other. Four Latinos ganged up on a Bangladeshi immigrant outside an Applebee’s in the Bronx, New York, this week thinking that he was a “fucking Arab” responsible for the Boston Marathon Bombing. To their credit, the New York Post headline stated that they were idiots:
Abdullah Faruque, 30 — a native of the South Asian country who grew up in The Bronx — was at Applebee’s on Exterior Avenue in Melrose at about 11:30 p.m. Monday when he went outside for a smoke.
Three or four Hispanic males he’d noticed drinking at the bar followed him and angrily got in his face, he recalled yesterday.
“One of the guys asked if I was Arab. I just shook my head, said like, ‘Yeah, whatever.’ I didn’t even know that [the] Boston [bombing] happened because I had a busy day,” Faruque said.
He turned to head back inside as one of the men snarled, “Yeah, he’s a f–king Arab,” and the gang pounced, punching him on the head and body, dislocating his left shoulder and leaving him semiconscious.
“Before I could grab the door, they started swinging at me,” the network engineer said of the 90-second beatdown. “I’ve been jumped before. If you can’t win, you back up, you try to protect yourself.”
Holding a copy of the Post picturing the wrong ‘suspects’ on the front page, Colbert noted the lack of concrete of information following the attack. “Luckily there is one news outlet that doesn’t let lack of facts get in the way of reporting them. Of course, that’s the New York Post,” he joked.
“While you’re on the lookout for these guys, keep in mind, these are not the guys,” he later said of the two men the Post falsely — and very publicly — accused, “Turns out, it was these other guys.”
Dark-skinned does not mean evil, but this has pervaded all the anti-Muslim attacks, and famously, verbal attacks on President Obama. Supposedly, in the Christian lexicon, darkness or blackness is equated with the devil, with negativity, with being subsumed, with ultimate evil. Which is why dark-skinned people still get a visceral, internal revulsion from certain whites or light-skinned people. It always makes me wonder, though, what is with these kinds of people? Aren’t we supposedly beyond such assumptions? This ain’t the 15th century. These kinds of people are just as ignorant and fanatical as the people that they hate. When and where does common sense finally knock them in the head?
I wrote most of this yesterday afternoon.
Since the release of the photos and video excerpts that caught evidence of who the real suspects were, all hell has broken loose since about 2:00 a.m. Central Time, with what seems to me to be the Butch Cassidy-Sundance Kid scenario. I’m hoping though that the boy, identified as Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, will eventually give himself up and tell his story. As reported, his older brother, 26-year-old Tamerlan (interesting—the name comes from Tamerlane, the restorer of the Mongol Empire) Tsarnaev, the possible mastermind of this horrible terrorist event, is dead. So far, no other accomplices have been identified.
MSNBC may appear more rational than CNN in today’s coverage, but the news people are still swayed more by conjecture, supposition and rumor and commentary rather than by facts and credible sources, which are always rather few on the ground at the beginning. I blame the 24-hour news cycle for this. It may be good for “as it happens” coverage, but when they have to fill whole hours between actions, the worst kind of race baiting can occur.
As time goes by, though, facts become more numerous and provable. And this is what scares me about the coverage of this tragedy. People who are swayed more by their baser emotions want to grab at anything and anyone who is dark-skinned or appears Muslim, in order to justify their supposed blamelessness.
What is more hilarious, however, is that people in Facebook Land and in the Twitterverse are trying to find out whether Caucasian means dark-skinned. I kid you not, that’s what is trending. Goes to show about how ignorant and creepy the fringe element is. Causcasian means “from the Caucasus Mountain region” in Russia. More often than not, it means white and European. The late comedian George Carlin tried on the word for size in the Seventies. Even the most educationally-limited African American knows that Caucasian means white. But as I have said before, some people will insist on foolishness.
Malcolm X must have thought, during his haj in the mid-Sixties, after his break from the Nation of Islam, that seeing white Muslims was god’s cosmic joke on him. It helped him, according to The Autobiography of Malcolm X, to revise some of his previous views on whites. However, it’s become a nightmare to some white Americans right now. I think that this is a wake-up call for them to change that nightmare into a nirvana we can all live with.
Ultimately, what I am saying is this: no one human being or group in this country has the license on purity, especially when it comes to looks. The news media and others should know this, because they run the risk of becoming “the gutter press.” They have a responsibility to help calm and reassure viewers, not to incite and whip up the citizenry for the sake of some ad revenue. At the same time, no one human being or group has the right to dehumanize another, because it is a rationale to abuse and murder innocent people. Such behavior is a step towards crimes against humanity, of which the ancestors of some whites in this country would be on trial for at The Hague. You think that I lie, or that I am over-analyzing things? No, I am not.
What kind of satisfaction can any one get from beating up, stigmatizing or even murdering people who are not responsible for the (un)proven deeds of others from their group? Oh, I am sure that they must feel strong and manly and patriotic, but they merely exacerbate misunderstanding and distrust. Don’t get me wrong. I sure felt the D.C. Sniper, John Allen Muhammad, and his young accomplice Lee Boyd Malvo, was responsible for murdering all those people during their crime spree. But how was Muhammad’s criminality attributable to an entire racial group, African Americans? Muhammad’s criminality was his and his alone. He could have gone bad or good, just like any other human being. Blacks are not responsible as a whole for his or Malvo’s deeds. And it is the same for other naturalized American citizens and residents of color. They deserve to be left alone. Let the guilty among them be caught and tried.
Just like Ruslan Tsarni said this morning, Chechens here in the United States are not responsible for the misguided and horrible deeds of his nephews. Muslims or dark-skinned Americans are not responsible. Only the guilty are responsible. That’s where it should always begin and end with finding and arresting those who are responsible for such heinous acts, and not create the environment for revenge scenarios that one can only find in cartoonish movies.
- Boston Marathon Hate Crimes Fall Out Begins (loonwatch.com)
- Hate Crimes: Man Assaults Muslim Woman Following Reports of ‘Dark-Skinned’ Boston Bombing Suspects (bossip.com)
- The Post-Boston Islamophobic Hate Crimes Have Begun (colorlines.com)
- Boston Bombing leads to Racially-Charged Media Suspicions (ismailwarsame.wordpress.com)
- ‘Please don’t be Muslim’: Fears of racial, ethnic profiling in the wake of Boston bombing (thegrio.com)