BOSTON BOMBING, SELECTIVE COMPASSION AND THE “MUSLIM FACTOR”
By Gulamhusein Abba.
As I write this (morning of Tuesday, April 16) my thoughts, my heart, my sympathies, my condolences, my everything is with the people of Boston, especially those families who have lost a loved one and those who lie injured.
What a terrible tragedy. A day of rejoicing was reduced to a day of death and mourning. What could be more despicable than to launch an attack on such a day, a day designated as Patriots Day, and target those who were running to raise thousands if not millions of dollars for worthy causes, including those related to the recent Sandy Hook tragedy?
Family members attempting to contact those who had gone to the Marathon, to ascertain if they were safe, only to find that cell phones were dead.
First responders rushing in to tend to the injured. Medical workers treating patients with severed limbs and children with severe burns in a temporary medical tent at the road race.
Mayhem. Complete chaos. A bustling scene of cheers, hope, joyous victory, rejoicing suddenly turned into a war zone.
Imagine the fear of those on the scene. The anxiety of their loved ones. The desperation of those trying to contact them.
Two people, one of hem an eight year old boy, dead; 160 injured, 16 critically; several with a limb missing, at least 4 with their legs amputated in the hospital; nails sticking out of a girl’s body.
There was no need to imagine all this. Videos being projected round the clock on TV screens showed the unimaginable horror and tragedy in stark detail. Watching, I felt I was there. Having suffered tragedy and fear myself, the whole scene became very personal and palpable.
I was glued to the TV till well past midnight. Had a very disturbed sleep and was back watching TV as soon as I woke up the next morning.
A myriad thoughts and emotions ran through me.
One of the things I greatly appreciated was that President Barack Obama lost no time in going on the air and telling the nation that the authorities did not yet know who is behind the Boston Marathon bombing and urging caution in assigning blame. "We still do not know who did this, or why, and people shouldn’t jump to conclusions before we have all the facts," he said.
Another fact that struck me was the contrast between what was happening here and what was happening in other parts of the world.
In Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine and elsewhere around the world, such horror and tragedy did not occur once in a blue moon. They were a daily occurrence, routine. Drones buzzed overhead in the skies 24 hours a day. The people huddled in fear, not knowing when a bomb or a missile would swoop down on them, obliterating their home and killing or paralyzing them or their loved ones. When it did and all hell broke loose, no first responders rushed to tend to them.
And not just two or twenty six died but hundreds did.
In fact, just a few days before the Boston bombing, a NATO air attack in the Shigal district of restive Kunar province, Afghanistan , killed at least 18 people, including as many as 11 innocent children. There was no ambiguity as to who had killed them and how. They were killed by a NATO air-strike.
Yet, though these tragic occurrences are far worse than what happened at Boston or Sandy hook, they receive hardly any coverage, if at all, unlike the round the clock coverage given by the media in the US to Sandy Hook shooting and Boston bombing. Consequently, neither those who suffer so grievously nor those who die so ingloriously receive any sympathy or condolences or support from any American. No American tears are shed for them.
Can compassion be selective? Should it be?
Very disturbing was that, ignoring the appeal made by none other than the President himself, the anti-Islamists in this great country immediately started trying to implicate Muslims!
For example, one of Fox News contributors, Eric Rush, in response to the Boston attack tweeted -- then deleted -- what he claimed was a joke about rounding up Saudis and killing them.
When one Bill Schmalfldt tweeted back, “Sweet God. Are you ALREADY BLAMING MUSLIMS??”, Eric replied “Yes they’re evil. Let’s kill them all”.
Though Eric deleted his original tweets, in later messages he called his critics "Islamic apologist worms" and "vermin."
The New York Post published a report, under a screaming headline “FBI grills Saudi man in Boston bombings”, claiming that a "Saudi National" had been taken "into custody" by police at a local Boston hospital. In Its initial stories the paper said that the person taken into custody was "identified as a suspect." In fact, nobody had been taken into custody and nobody had been identified as a suspect.
Anti-Islamic blogger Pamela Geller was quick to jump on the New York Post's report, labeling the tragedy “jihad” on her blog, Atlas Shrugged.
Others, while not directly accusing Muslims of being somehow responsible for the bombing, asked the question that regularly pops up in such situations: Where is the Muslim condemnation? Implying that the silence of the Muslims itself proves that the Muslims in America are salivating at the massacre!
So where WAS, where IS the Muslim indignation, outrage, condemnation, expressions of sorrow, grief and sympathy in the Boston bombing?
According to Sound Vision, “There were many Muslims in the Marathon, both as victims, as well as doctors trying to save lives…..…. condemnation by Muslims was not reported by the national media … Radio Islam was on air reaching 60,000 plus listeners sympathizing with the victims within hours of this tragedy.
“The Muslim community in the United States and abroad began issuing their condolences and condemnations of the Boston incident within hours of receiving news reports about the attack. However, these statements of sincerity and sadness receive little to no attention in the majority of media outlets, specially the Radio and the TV.”
This is sad -- and dangerous. As pointed out in the said report: “Omitting Muslim statements of condemnation directly leads to Islamophobia, translating into deadly hate – attacks on Masjids and Islamic centers, Islamic schools, and anyone who ‘looks Muslim’.
As I was about to close this writing, the reassuring words of Obama were ringing in my ears: "We still do not know who did this, or why, and people shouldn’t jump to conclusions before we have all the facts," Obama said. "But make no mistake: we will get to the bottom of this, we will find out who did this, we'll find out why they did this. Any responsible individuals, any responsible groups, will feel the full weight of justice."
This triggered a faint echo from the past. Bush, responding to the 9/11 attacks, speaking about flushing out the perpetrators, tracking them down, holding them accountable, bringing them to justice or taking justice to them.
Suddenly, out of nowhere frightening questions formed.
Did families and friends of innocent men, women, children and babies killed in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq and Palestine ever say to themselves that they would track down the perpetrators, hold them accountable and bring them to justice or take justice to them?
Did any of their governments ever vow to do this?
What if all of them start doing it?