Two political events happened this week that made deep connections in my mind, even though they happened continents apart. It’s funny how sometimes the most disparate things make us think philosophical thoughts that interconnect in the most important ways. Event # 1: Donald Trump gets handed the Republican nominee on a silver platter. I know… who in the world expected this?
Yet today, as I look around, the cry ‘never again” seems a formality only. So much is happening in the world right now that is scary, worrying, and even downright wrong. Sometimes I wonder whether the people who lived in the mid and late 1930s could tell what was about to happen. I wonder how we would even know if those situations were rising again. To me, never again is a comforting slogan, but not much else.
Don’t get me wrong, when somebody uses guns and IED devises to kill 14 people, when his home is full of pipe bombs, I’m the first one to call him a terrorist. I don’t care whether he’s Muslim or Christian or atheist. If you spread terror, you are a terrorist and you deserve everything you get in this world and the next. But what infuriates me is how easily and quickly the media narrative shifts away from the issue of gun control. And that’s why gun lobbyists love terrorists.
Here we go again. Paris is under a state of emergency due to terrorist attacks, and the world is mourning yet again. My heart should bleed, but I am completely numb by now. I don’t think there is a drop of blood left in my heart to shed for innocent victims of yet another heinous, barbaric attack. I am a Muslim, so of course I’m expected to apologize for the actions of those who have claimed responsibility for the attacks.
A picture is worth a thousand words, even more so in the digital age than ever before. My experience has been that images are amazing things, with the power to anger, comfort or heal. They have the power to change opinion, to reflect harsh realities. And the last two days have been fraught with all the baggage that comes from one tiny image with a huge message. You know the one I’m talking about, of course.
Hate disguised as free speech is a particularly ugly thing. Google Maps labeling the White House as N****r House is no less disgusting as a French magazine drawing the Prophet Muhammad in a stereotypical or untrue sketch. As I see the intolerance among us grow and ultimately divide us, I fear for the world we will leave our children and grandchildren in. Instead of learning to live in peace and love, we still think of ourselves as Muslims, Jews, Christians, white, black, brown, Israeli, Palestinian.
Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23; Yusor Mohammad, 21; and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19 didn’t do anything to deserve death. Killing Muslims in America today isn’t a hate crime, it isn’t even a tragedy. It is just sad. And frightening.
We have an Islamophobia problem in this country. Typically I don’t like using the “I word” because it’s easy to see how others may hold a different view than mine about what constitutes hate and bigotry. But the news out of Austin, TX this week is startling in a number of ways and the word Islamophobia just fits perfectly, especially the phobia part.
Two weeks of Muslims being asked to condemn the terrorists, asked to condemn ISIS and Al- Qaeda, asked to prove that we stand with freedom of speech and not violence and terrorism. It’s an old, tired subject that we have literally beaten to death, yet we continue.
This morning I woke up unaware of the ordeal hundreds had endured overnight while I slept. Terrorists had entered a school in Peshawar and killed more than a hundred innocent children while my own safely dreamed in their soft beds.