Yalla Peace: Is this not terrorism?

When a white man shoots 17 people and kills six, he’s ‘crazy,’ but if the killer were Arab or Muslim, we would be having a very different conversation.

By RAY HANANIA
January 11, 2011 23:32
3 minute read.
Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords

Gabrielle Giffords. (photo credit: AP)

 
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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.

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The 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 loner.”

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 own.

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.

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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 person.

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 took place.

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 Obama.

Dupnik is not just some pundit.

He is the sheriff in Tucson, Arizona, where the killings took place.

Immediately, the 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 “too liberal.”

A crosshair is a symbol of a rifle’s scope and is associated with guns, so the symbolism is not lost on many observers.

I 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 Palestine.

If we want a good future, we need to start showing some compassion, not hostility for those with whom we might disagree.

There is 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. www.YallaPeace.com

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