(photo credit: AP)
When news reports broke that an unidentified man had fired a gun at a meeting
organized by a local congresswoman in Tucson, Arizona, I immediately wondered if
it was an act of terrorism or just meaningless violence.
Among the 17
people wounded and six killed was Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who had been the
target of much hate rhetoric that has come to dominate the political debate in
America, not just about the Middle East but about domestic politics.
gunman turned out to be a 22-year-old white male named Jared L. Loughner. And
immediately, media pundits started to say that he was just a “crazed
It made me think about what might have been said if the killer
had been Arab or Muslim.
You know the debate would be different and
people would be screaming that the Arab killer was clearly a part of some
international jihad network, even if he (or she) had committed the crime on his
Yes. When a white man shoots 17 people and kills six, including a
nine-year-old girl, he’s a “crazy person.”
But when an Arab or Muslim
kills people, like military officer Nidal Hassan for example, he’s part of some
vast Islamic conspiracy.
I was about to complain.
But then I
actually thought about it; when you are white, you are crazy, when you are Arab,
you’re part of some conspiracy, which I guess is better than being a crazy
Arabs are never “crazy” in events like this. Even though Loughner
refers to himself as a terrorist on one of YouTube videos, no one else is. They
just call him a killer.
You see, the fact that some innocent persons were
killed doesn’t seem to be as important as the attempts to define why the murders
ONE BRAVE American, Clarence W. Dupnik, has declared that the
Loughner shooting is the result of an increase in the strident hate rhetoric
that is overcoming America over the past few years, especially since September
11, 2001 and the election seven years later of President Barack
Dupnik is not just some pundit.
He is the sheriff in
Tucson, Arizona, where the killings took place.
right-wing nut jobs started to come out from under their rocks denouncing
Dupnik, especially after many media started wondering if some politicians may
have been helping to raise the level of hate. They pointed to the website of
Sarah Palin and members of the extremist Tea Party movement, who have put
“telescopic crosshairs” on graphics to target members of Congress who have been
A crosshair is a symbol of a rifle’s scope and is
associated with guns, so the symbolism is not lost on many observers.
know that the majority of Americans are good people. In fact, the majority of
Palestinians and Israelis are good people, too.
But sometimes the good
people don’t speak out enough to challenge the voices of stridency and hatred.
We avoid confrontation yet we’re outraged when the stridency results in killings
as it did in Arizona.
Moderates need to do more.
We need to speak
out against strident voices whether they are here in the US or in Israel and
If we want a good future, we need to start showing some
compassion, not hostility for those with whom we might disagree.
a way to disagree without being disagreeable.
And while we need a lot
more of that in the US, Palestinians and Israelis could some too.The
writer is an award-winning columnist and Chicago radio talk show host.