The shooting at Los Angeles International Airport last Friday was horrific. An agent of the Transportation and Security Administration was murdered. When the news of the shooting first flashed across my television screen early Friday afternoon, I, like every other person of Arab and Muslim heritage, was hoping that the culprit was not one of us. I was hoping he was not Arab, or Muslim, or Pakistani, or Iranian. In fact, I was hoping he wasn’t Indian, or Mexican, or anything that looks like us. And I stayed glued to my TV until early that evening when they finally told us all that it was a crazy white guy. Then CNN then put on an analyst that told us that the National Counterterrorism Center was not treating this event as an act of terrorism. Great. I would not have to spend the next couple of days watching all of the news outlets delve into the background of the suspect, educating us badly about some far-off part of the world, and interviewing the shooter’s long-lost foreign relatives. It would be a nice quiet weekend.
But then all of my fellow Arab and Muslim Americans started complaining. They started publishing all kinds of articles decrying the fact that the shooter, Paul Anthony Ciancia, was not being labeled as a “terrorist.” They started posting things all over Facebook telling us that if he were a Muslim, it would’ve been treated differently. They were saying, “Terrorism has no religion.” They were complaining. They were whining.
Don’t you all know that you can’t complain about this kind of stuff? Don’t you know who we are? We are the only group they can still say whatever they want about. We’re different.
Don’t you remember when John McCain was running for president in 2008 and a woman at one of his rallies in Minnesota said she didn’t trust Barack Obama because he was “an Arab,” and John McCain responded by saying, “No ma’am, he’s a decent family man.” Don’t you remember in 2012 when presidential candidate Herman Cain said he would not appoint any individuals to his administration if they were Muslims? Don’t you remember just a couple months ago when that non-Muslim killed 12 people at the Washington DC Navy Yard, shutting down parts of our nation’s capital for a whole day? The FBI called him “delusional.” Or the Newtown, Connecticut school massacre? Or the shooting at the movie theater in Aurora, Colorado? They were “disturbed.”
Don’t you remember the Boston Marathon bombing? Don’t you remember how they were Muslim terrorists from Chechnya? We spent days trying to figure out what “secret cell” they belonged to. We even sent news teams to Chechnya and interviewed anyone they ever talked to.
Don’t you remember Nidal Malik Hasan? After he killed 13 people at an army base in Fort Hood, Texas, we delved into his Google history and email. We found out that he was corresponding with radical cleric Ayman Al-Awlaki. A couple years later, we sent a Hellfire missile (great name, huh?) and assassinated him in Yemen. He was an American citizen by the way. And if that wasn’t enough, two weeks later, a CIA drone strike killed his 16-year-old American-born son Abdulrahman, because, as we all know, terrorism is genetic.
If the American media doesn’t condemn our government when it assassinates Muslim American citizens, one of them an innocent 16-year-old boy along with his teenage cousin at least five other civilians, why are you so surprised when they automatically call Muslims criminals “terrorists” and white criminals “disturbed”?
Don’t you realize that we’re different in a different way than anyone else is different?
Don’t you know that acts have more gravity merely because the actor was Muslim rather than white? If a white guy beats his wife, it’s because he’s a jerk. If a Muslim beats his wife, it’s because his religion tells him he can. If a white guy objects to something the president does, it’s because he is a conscientious objector. If a Muslim objects to something the president does, it’s because he hates America. If a white guy doesn’t like the Pepsi logo, it’s because it’s unimaginative and forgettable. If a Muslim doesn’t like the Pepsi logo, it’s because it’s red, white, and blue.
When a white guy perpetrates violence, it is in no way connected to his whiteness. When a Muslim perpetrates violence, it is not just connected to the fact that he is a Muslim, it is because of the fact that he is a Muslim. Every Muslim act is attributed to every Muslim. Well, not every act, just the bad ones. We are not all lumped together when a Muslim finishes first in his class, starts a major corporation, or saves a life in an emergency room.
I know… I sound like a broken record. But I’m just trying to get you all to understand that this is the world we live in. There’s nothing you can do about it. So stop whining.
If anything, don’t complain that they’re not calling white criminals “terrorists.” Complain that they’re not calling Muslim criminals “disturbed.” After all, aren’t Muslims who commit violence in the name of their religion perpetrating a fallacy? Aren’t they truly “delusional”?
So stop all of your complaining. It’ll get you nowhere. A Muslim who complains that the media misrepresents him is like a husband who complains that he never gets to decide where he and his wife are going to dinner. He’s right, but nothing’s going to change.