Prayers for Boston & for an End to Racist Backlash

As you have probably heard by now, Boston is reeling in the aftermath of a few explosions near the Boston marathon this afternoon. Two people bostonhave been killed and dozens injured and being treated at local hospitals. I’ve been texting, calling, and checking up on friends in the area all afternoon. We are all shook up and confused by what is happening, searching for answers or explanations for something so hard to comprehend (though something commonplace in other parts of the world like Pakistan, where 4 were killed by a US drone yesterday, and Iraq, where over 50 were killed in a bombing today). Very little is yet known about who did this and why, but of course, the mass media are already making lots of unsubstantiated claims, while accusations and assumptions are spreading quickly on Twitter and Facebook.

As something as horrifying as this afternoon in Boston is literally unfolding, as we are worrying about loved ones who may be affected, we already have to worry about the consequences of backlash violence. We have to worry about the sensationalism in the media. We have to worry about being attacked because of the color of skins, the turbans or hijabs on our heads, the beards on our faces. I pray that people in the United States and beyond have learned something in the last 11 and a half years. I pray that the collective response to today will be drastically different from the knee-jerk racism that pervaded the days, weeks, months, and years after 9/11/01.

But honestly, I’m not so sure how hopeful I am.

Already, the New York Post reported that the suspect is a 20-year-old Saudi national being guarded at a Boston hospital, a claim that has been refuted by the Boston Police Department. The Post, hardly known for objective, fact-based journalism (see my 2011 piece on “Turban Warfare“), also reported that 12 were killed in today’s explosions, while the police department has reported two dead. Reporting like this contributes to the frenzy and fear that allow bigotry to thrive. The kind of bigotry that killed Balbir Singh Sodhi in Phoenix on September 15, 2001. The kind of bigotry that put Rajinder Singh Khalsa in the hospital in 2004 in Richmond Hill. The kind of bigotry that burned down the Joplin mosque and attacked several other Muslim houses of worship and schools last year. The kind of bigotry that reigned terror on Oak Creek, Wisconsin on August 5, 2012.

Some right wing pundits have been even more blatantly racist this afternoon in response to the explosions. Fox News commentator Erik Rush went so far as to tweet this afternoon that Muslims are evil, and “Let’s kill them all” after immediately blaming the explosions on Muslim terrorists without any evidence.

As of this writing at 7pm EST on April 15th, no arrests have been made. We know very little about what is behind this horrific afternoon in Boston, yet it is already clear who is going to pay the price, regardless of the facts.




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39 Responses to “Prayers for Boston & for an End to Racist Backlash”

  1. Brittany says:

    I completely agree with you. Far too often are people quick to make assumptions and jump to conclusions with an absence of factual evidence. It also doesn't help that, unfortunately, "terror(ist/ism)" is seemingly synonymous with "Muslim" or "Arab" in the US these days. People need to understand two things: 1-not all terrorists are foreign (hence the existence of the term "domestic terrorist") and 2-not all terrorists are Muslim or of Middle Eastern descent. Just look at the recent shootings at Sandy Hook and in Aurora, Colorado…those were acts of terrorism and they were both white, US-born citizens. Let's go a few years back and look at the DC sniper case…that was also terrorism and they were black Americans. So for anyone to accuse anyone of being a terrorist at this point or to even point fingers and speculate about who is or isn't the responsible party is absolutely ridiculous, because no evidence has even been found or released. Let's stop scapegoating here and just blame the one person or few people who are responsible once there's actual evidence to accuse those people. It's not a racial thing, nor is it a religious thing. The only thing that all terrorists have in common is their selfishness and utter disregard for human life.

    • Gurukarm Kaur says:

      And even before your examples, Timothy McVeigh. (Oklahoma City Federal Building bombing, April 19, 1995) Hmmm. As I type the date, I'm having weird feelings here…

      • Sathanuman S. Khalsa says:

        This is what is being left out of the discussion. The original "Patriot's Day" was April 19th. Now, its celebrated on the 3rd Monday of April. Today, it happens to be the 15th (Tax day). Most domestic "Terrorism" or 'homegrown' terrorism happens on April 19th in the past. Oklahoma City bombing, Ruby Ridge. Right-wing anti-government terrorism use this historic time to accentuate their horrendous acts. So, yes, I agree with your weird feelings.

  2. Meena says:

    It is time to turn our attention to Dr. Devinderpal Singh Bhullar!

    • Sher says:

      wow! on one hand you condemn terrorism and on the other support violent ideology espoused by Sikh extremists. My terrorist is holier than your. Hypocrisy?

  3. Lisa says:

    This is a well-written and poingnant article. I have friends at my medical school who are fighting to stay there just because a few racist doctors are finding any possible way (many lies have been made up) to get them to leave or be kicked out unjustly. I am in a mixed-race marriage, and my wife tells me about all the subtle racist things she experiences regulalrly in the so-called "multi-cultural" city we live. This country will never progress until it really, truly admits and weeds out the deep racist roots it has grown. I can only work on changing my own thoughts, attitudes and actions from my upper-middle-class-white upbringing, but I promise I do so every day.

  4. John says:

    Good to see you're taking this time to stand on your soap box rather than reflect on the tragedy that happened today. How do you know this Saudi national wasn't involved? If you care more about political correctness than safety, you are stomping all over the people who were directly affected by today's terrorist attack.

    • joe says:

      How do you know the Saudi National was involved? the point the writer wants to bring across is: where do we go from here? do we hunt for scapegoats to blame based on media sensationalism , bigotry and false assumptions, which may result in more tragedies in the future? or do we stand with the victims and let justice and the authorities do their work.

      • Scott says:

        It's true, we should be focusing on the tragedy more right now. One of the reasons for the racism is we rarely see middle eastern people and middle eastern countries vehemently deny the attacks for what they are. Often, they're silent, or give a mild response. There needs to be unequivocal condemnation of these acts, or the racism will continue, and considering the demographics of past attacks, you can't deny there's a rational for the racism. Per capita, males between 18-40 are viewed with much more apprehension when it comes to committing crimes than other demographics. This is justified, even if it's not fair for me as a male in that category who is not that way. I expect to be judged for that, it's just the way things are.

        • Linda says:

          If the middle eastern countries deny it, would you believe it? The truth is people want to believe that the middle east/muslims are behind every bombing that happens. So what's the point of denying?

        • emilygoddess says:

          What, do you monitor 1.2 billion people and personally observe their responses to every act of violence? Or do you expect every one of them to call an American paper and make sure we know they don't agree with things done by people who happen to share an extremely large demographic with them? I'm just wondering how on Earth you could possibly know how the majority of Muslims respond to any given thing.

  5. elosangel says:

    I pray with you that calm heads prevail. As a European, White, Christian, American woman, I have chosen to stand against racism. My family lives a few blocks from a Sikh temple, and we have never felt any concern. Our neighbors are friendly, kind, and courteous. I would hope that ALL United States residents, citizens and non-citizens, any color of the beautiful skin rainbow, and all faith systems, would behave as well.

  6. S.. says:

    I bet it was a witch. We need to go find some witches to hunt. We haven't done that in ages and they're really due for taking some blame.

  7. PeaceWanted says:

    Thank you for your blog post. I have been wondering what these explosions will actually be called. Perhaps the next excuse to invade another country? Iran is on the list… I remember thinking on September 13th 2001 "are my coworkers going to be afraid of me because of how Muslims are being portrayed?". Mind you this was in Santa Barbara, Ca- a pretty liberal college own and I had these feelings. My heart goes out to the families of the two individuals who died and their families. I hope for a speedy recovery of the remaining victims. I also hope we will know the accurate truth…

  8. sean says:

    Authorities have searched a house in Revere Mass.. Revere does have a large Muslim community. I can't say the perpetrators were Islamist… but if I had to bet money…….

  9. Skep41 says:

    "…We have to worry about being attacked because of the color of skins, the turbans or hijabs on our heads, the beards on our faces…"
    Really? YOU, who do all the attacking and have never been attacked, are worried that us out-of-control racist rednecks will become irate that bombs are blowing up at crowded events? We shouldnt notice that two bombs, packed with ball-bearings, one timed to explode as the first responders arrive to help the casualties of the first, are standard among Islamo-fascist terrorist groups like Hamas and Hizbollah? I'm sick of being insulted by smug ethnics who have just seen their co-religionists commit some new outrage and want to avoid the shame of association by yelling 'racism' where there is none. We all know who did this and why. This is another attempt like the one in Times Square a few years ago, except this time the bombs worked. Now we're told to feel guilty and to equate the drones aimed at active terrorists with bombs set off to intentionally kill and maim innocent civilians. If this is another Islamic terror attack, and it might not be even though the outward signs point to it, we can expect the government and media to downplay it but to the average person actions like this relegate Islam, all of it, to a hateful and despised ideology without a scrap of dignity or honor.

    • oh dear says:

      Umm.. you would look a lot smarter if you read to the end of the article, where you will find listed just a few of the many racist attacks on innocent Sikhs (not even Muslims). Not to mention the near constant violence endured by innocents in the Middle East. Your lack of literacy/intellect/common sense is legendary.

    • tremills says:

      I'm sure thousands of innocents killed in Iraq because of an illegal war are sick of being insulted by a smug white redneck such as yourself who has lived the cushy, easy life free from any sort of struggle and hardship while they have experienced a decade of terror thanks to your co-nationals. American Rednecks are a cancer to the free world. Blaming hard working minorities while they eat welfare in their rural hick havens. I hope the minorities you oppress drive you back to your trailer parks for good, just like how the Muslims drove your crusader ancestors back to the caves of Europe. Saladin had more dignity and honor in his fingertip than you, your hick father, and your dumpster mother combined

  10. sb103 says:

    @skep41 Im sorry in what alternate reality do you live where people of color, or turban wearing people, or hijab wearing people, or men with beards have never been attacked.
    Your reponse is exactly the problem and is exactly why hate crimes and back lash are a very real fear for people. No one is down playing that issue at hand only pleading for moderation of reaction and bias. Of course not everyone will be on board with that. But my hope is that you sir are the minority. God Bless you and yours and may you receive understanding even where you are unable to give it to others.

  11. Stefan says:

    Although I support the main point this article is making, and we should never jump to any conclusions. We shouldn't also be blind to the fact that that there are some very valid reason to assume that a certain religious ideology could very well be the source for these bombings. I agree that it isn't a given. And even then there are also social and political issues that play a role. But when martyrdom and 'spreading the religion by the sword' are two of the main core beliefs in an ideology, (two issues that needs to be addressed by the muslim community!) we need not be surprised that these things are the outcome, especially given the recent history. But let me stress that this is no call for a witch hunt. But just to say we shouldn't be afraid to point out the elephant in the room because we fear we'll be heaped on the 'racist' pile.

    • Dom says:

      I agree, we should be talking about the elephants in the room So lets talk about the increasingly radical ultraconservative, ultra nationalistic, islamophobic, christian rightwingers that infect this country like a plague. So we should be looking for religiously motivated ideologies as the source, unfortunately for you they're just as likely to be christian dominionists as jihadist. No one should be above scrutiny.

      • Stefan says:

        Look you won't have a discussion with me about the evils of all the religions and movements you mention. I am not a fan of any one of them. And especially the bad influence of Christianity on the US (although when talking about violence in comparison to islam, christianity could argue that they at least have that 2000 year old hippy preaching non-violence going for them) But we're not talking about the broad spectrum here, we're talking about who is the most likeliest to plant a bomb. And you are right, the right wing nationalist have been responsible for the most deaths by terrorism in the US since 2002. That is what the numbers show. And you won't have a discussion with me about that. But the close second are the islamic fundamentalist. Should we now deny that, or sweep that under the rug of political correctness? You may want to do that, but I don't I care for the truth, and honesty, whatever the outcome..

  12. […] “As something as horrifying as this afternoon in Boston is literally unfolding, as we are worrying about loved ones who may be affected, we already have to worry about the consequences of backlash violence. We have to worry about the sensationalism in the media. We have to worry about being attacked because of the color of skins, the turbans or hijabs on our heads, the beards on our faces. I pray that people in the United States and beyond have learned something in the last 11 and a half years. I pray that the collective response to today will be drastically different from the knee-jerk racism that pervaded the days, weeks, months, and years after 9/11/01.” – Brooklynwala, Prayer for Boston and an End to Racist Backlash […]

  13. Lady says:

    How is it "literally unfolding?"

  14. SirJohn2 says:

    Next to last paragraph says "SOME right wing punditS"..yet only one could be identified… and if you do.the least bit of research you will find the other side of the story.: he was sarcastically mimicking the response typical knee-jerked from another group. But if you want to believe that an intelligent and educated Black man could be that stupid, nothing is going to dissuade you.

  15. Thanks for sharing this news…!

  16. […] word 9/11 mentioned twice in just a few minutes. Then came retribution calls and the fighting talk. This article from the Langer Hall delves into the reaction a little […]

  17. brooklynwala says:

    if you haven't heard, here's the story on the 20 yr old saudi student.

  18. Blighty Singh says:

    Fortunately, the victims were not non-white people with turbans and beards as then Obama would have had to decline an invitation to visit the victims. ….inna wisconsin stylee. In the few hours that he's there, American bombs, American bullets and American policy would have killed scores of innocent non-white people across the world. None of those dead and wounded will receive a visit from the President and none of those innocent lives tragically lost through state sponsored acts of terrorism will recieve more than a few inches of mention in the media. So yes, prayers for Boston. But lets not be selective in our prayers. Lets also say prayers for the greater number who are victims of American foeign policy terrorism.

  19. chris says:

    The broad categories we as people put things in are a means of saving time and resources.
    In any situation in the world, When people are being paid for time, that time is always of limited supply. Its a universal rule.

    If i go rob a bank in Nigeria and get away, the white, blue eyed blond haired tourist eating lunch down the street is absolutely going to get picked up for questioning. Yes its sad that his kilishi lunch was interrupted with this non sense, and no of course he doesn't even know who i am, but they will probably assume that he does.

    So they they have it narrowed down to someone who looks like me… him… us. So why waste their time questioning every dark skinned nigerian between the bank I robbed and the restaurant he is eating at? They are going to go straight to him while they look for me. At least if they have any common sense at all. Nigerian Privilege? I wouldn't call it that. How about Basic Math.

    Should he be angered by the investigative practices of the Legos police department? No, he should be angry with me.

    If i get hit by a red Honda while I'm walking down the street. The police ask me, are you sure it was a honda, maybe i don't remember, its all sort of fuzzy. They decide to expand the search, they are going to check out red Toyotas and red Volvos. Its part of any investigative work, you start with everything and you narrow it down based on what little information you have as quickly as possible. Again, the clock is ticking and time is of the essence. Race and skin color is huge big category, its a big number. Leaving that one out intentionally would be like leaving out the fact that the car that hit me was red.

    I'm sorry if most bomb terror suspects we have dealt with lately have been red hondas. Its unfortunate, but the enforcement and protection agencies are using what little information they have to narrow it down and try to keep the soil we live on safe.

    There is no conspiracy against red hondas. It could be anyone. A north Korean set the bombs, guess what, every asian man between Chinatown and Watertown is now part of the category they are looking at. Chechen people (and those you look like), your free to go.

    The white Privilege (Tim Wise)
    "White privilege is knowing that even if the Boston Marathon bomber turns out to be white, his or her identity will not result in white folks generally being singled out for suspicion by law enforcement, or the TSA, or the FBI."

    Yes its true, if the bombing suspect in Boston was a 35 year old Yingling drinking slightly overweight white guy wearing a red socks hat, the white majority in boston would not feel singled out in anyway. The same reason a Nigerian bomb suspect in Legos wouldn't then single out all nigerians.Theres too many. It becomes a very useless category. So they start with something else. Male or Female? How tall is the guy, is he fat or skinny? Whats that you say? He was bald!
    Suddenly every full haired male has nothing to worry about while the poor bald bastards have to stop and open their backpacks.

    There is no plan to keep the bald man down. theres just basic math going into action to in order for law enforcement or national protection agencies to work quickly and as effectively as possible. If they didn't do things by numbers, and pretended everyone looks the same, how would anything get done? And if you know this answer, please share it with the rest of us. I would love for this to change. It sounds like one step closer to a utopian society. Lets make it work, im all ears.

    • Blighty Singh says:

      It's not 'basic maths' Chris. It's kindergarden level numeracy at play here. The only sum actually being understood by American law enforcement is the fact that 1+1=2. Beyond that basic level, they have no clue. The terrorists themselves understand this and that is why they will always be one step ahead. Using the UK as an example some of the most high-profile terrorist attack arrests in recent years have been cases involving black Jamaican and white English converts to Islam. Boston too looks as though it involves white eastern Europeans. None of these people fit the 'brown' profile your law enforcement are so keen on following.
      Like I said, the terrorists are one step ahead of the basic math investigators. For 'intelligence' agencies they seem to be displaying very little actual intelligence beyond basic racial stereotypes.

    • Chris, most of your points, especially ones equating human beings for red hondas, makes perfect sense, so I won't debate you on those things. But mistaking Legos for Lagos is where I draw the line, especially because the rest of your comments are properly punctuated, and you don't strike me as a lazy writer. Just a stupid one. The word, "legos," refers to a child's plastic construction set for making mechanical models; "Lagos," is a city in Nigeria, the most populous black country in the world. Is America the most populous white country in the world? Maybe Boston is the whitest city in America? In which case your points are perfectly valid. In a sea of white vehicles, a red Honda is sure to stick out. Legos, however, have done nothing wrong, and their reputation has suffered because you couldn't spent ten seconds on wikipedia. Excellent vehicle analogy though. If all the news channels starting using these kinds of analogies, there would be no war, and racism could finally be officially over.

  20. […] Love 2. Erik Rush, Conservative Columnist, Makes Muslim Joke After Boston Marathon Explosions 3. Prayers for Boston & for an End to Racist Backlash 4. A Prayer for Boston 5. Boston Bombing Is a Tragedy, But Let’s Not Rush to Blame Muslims […]

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