The Boston Marathon bombing has brought out the good in plenty of people. But I’m having a hard time recalling the heroes when I read news like this from Think Progress:
Malden resident Heba Abolaban said she and her friend, both wearing hijabs, were walking with their children on Commercial Street when a man forcefully punched her left shoulder and began shouting at them.
“He was screaming ‘F___ you Muslims! You are terrorists! I hate you! You are involved in the Boston explosions! F___ you!’ “
Imagine yourself, for a second, taking a walk with your child around your neighborhood and a stranger comes up and starts yelling at you. That alone would be enough to jog my adrenaline and make me start searching for a safe place. But then to be blamed for a mass murder? To have my entire human existence reduced in a moment to a crude, false stereotype? That’s beyond appalling.
But this prevailing bigotry goes beyond assholes who commit hate crimes. Look at the way the media interviewed Ruslan Tsarni, uncle of the suspects, yesterday. The majority of reporters’ questions involved the family’s country of origin and citizenship status, and this continued to be the focus of discussion among news anchors. I understand our country is still suffering PTSD from the horrors of 9/11. I understand that the wide scope of law enforcement’s response to the attack does beg the question of whether this is bigger than just a criminal attack by two kids.
But that is no excuse for anyone to terrorize Muslims. That is no excuse to assault and humiliate a woman like Abolaban in the street. That is no excuse for all of this unfounded media speculation and ordinary people posting xenophobic rants to their Facebook pages. People in my family, people I’m supposed to love, have posted status updates demonizing Muslims and contributing to this chest-puffery that followed yesterday’s capture of suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
I’m glad law enforcement can finally rest and the people of Boston can leave their homes. I’m equally glad we may be one step closer to understanding why this crime occurred. But no amount of prevailing justice, radicalism, xenophobia or revenge is going to heal the injured or bring back the people who died on that finish line.