The second of two posts, because the first one was getting pretty long. Here we go with some more. It’s about the Boston Marathon Bombings. I’m not going to pretend to understand the motivations from what the Tsarnaev Brothers allegedly did in Boston. Yes, the surviving brother, Dzhokhar has been charged, but he had not yet been convicted. It’s important that we still say “allegedly” at this point, especially if we’re still trying to be Constitutionalist and remember that whole due process, “innocent until proven guilty” bit.
I don’t remember exactly how this image came to my attention today. I haven’t even thought about The Week Magazine in god know’s how long. Frankly, I’d forgotten they’d even existed. This phenomenal bit of casual racism, however, did bring them to my attention. And to the attention of quite a few people, though I doubt very much in they manner they intended. It did take those ideas that have been cooking since CNN’s whole “dark-skinned male” fiasco and crystallize them into something I could write about.
What was particularly horrible about the CNN thing, especially in retrospect, is that a month ago if someone showed you Dhzokhar Tsarnaev’s picture with out telling you anything about him you’d probably just think of him as some white guy. Prominent nose, curly hair, maybe a little Jewish/Israeli? At least that’s what I see. Apparently though, the artist for this cover felt the need to transform the faces of the Tsarnaev Brothers from “cute, slightly ethnic white guys” into “scary brown guy.”
And that’s crazy. The crazy started when CNN first said the words “dark-skinned male.” I could almost hear the sound of people’s brains jumping to conclusions. “Bombing? Dark skin? OMG, Muslim terrorists!” This theory was further borne out when we learned that the brothers were Chechen. And yes, eventually, Dhzokhar did claim that they did what they did as Islamic extremists. My problem, however, is with the week prior to him saying that where people assumed they knew what was true.
Someone I know on Facebook had jumped to the same conclusions, and was mocking President Obama for admonishing not to do the same. Getting past all the anti-Obama vitriol, I kindly reminded him that between 9/11 and 2009 Muslim extremists were only responsible for around 4% of all terrorist attacks in the US. I believe prior to 9/11 it was somewhere around 5-6%. The statistics are here if you care to take a look for yourself. (Dry governmental reports lurk within.)
I have to wonder, if instead of the Tsarnaev Brothers from Chechnya, they had instead been the Walton Brothers from somewhere in the Bible Belt, doing what they did as Christian Extremists, what sort of conversation we’d be having right now? I imaging we’d be spared the hate and vitriol directed not at Dzhokhar and Tamarlan as individuals, but directed at them as representatives of a group of people many still despise as “other.”
In that random way things happen on the internet, while writing this article I came across someone else’s work, a Video of a gentleman by the name of Tim Wise, doing a much better job of articulating what I’m thinking that I seem to be. Fast forward to 20:45 for the bit I’m talking about.