Don’t let the terrorists divide us
BY DAWUD WALID
We are in shock over yesterday’s horrible attack at the Boston Marathon. The purpose of such attacks is to instill fear and divide our nation.
Though we have been blessed and not suffered the mass violence in recent decades of Myanmar, Somalia, Sri Lanka, and a host of other nations, we know well the heinous effects of terror on the homeland. Our national conscience has been shaped by the Unabomber, Eric Rudolph’s 1996 attack at the Olympics in Atlanta, and Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols bombing of the FederalBuilding in Oklahoma City. And of course, Al-Qaeda’s attack on 9/11 is still a fresh memory.
There are many people overseas and at home who seek to do us ill based on real and perceived grievance. The reasons range from anger against our government for being allied with foreign dictators who suppress human rights to Americans motivated by racial/religious intolerance or anti-government sentiments.
No matter how legitimate these grievances may be, none can justify wanton violence against innocents as what took place in Boston.
As we pray for the families that have lost loved ones and salute our first responders who continue to perform their duties with honor and courage, we should also be praying for calm in our communities. By calm I mean no finger-pointing and accusing entire communities of collective guilt – even if one or some among them are alleged offenders.
We have a precedent of misguided people taking matters to extremes in reaction to horrendous events. This happened with the mistreatment and internment of Japanese Americans after Pearl Harbor, to hate crimes including vandalism of Islamic centers and a fatal shooting of a Sikh American directly after 9/11.
On social media, there are thousands who blamed Muslims and Arabs for what took place yesterday. Some called for violence against these two groups. I also read a few comments directed at Koreans – perhaps due to the remake of “Red Dawn” and the movie “Olympus Has Fallen” which portray Koreans as invaders. Many in our country have not learned from history, and some citizens operate from bigotry exacerbated by fear.
If we react in this way, the perpetrator(s) of terrorism will have achieved one of their goals. Extremists seek to change our way of life and subvert our national values of inclusion and equity for all. We cannot let them win.
As our law enforcement entities continue to investigate the tragedy in Boston, let us also investigate our hearts and our commitment to fair treatment for all while eschewing the demonization of entire communities.