I was shocked to hear about the twin bombs in Boston and my heart goes to the victims. Two days after the incident, however, speculation has been rife about the probable ethnicity of the perpetrator. The eerie silence of the killer suggests that this was probably carried out individually.
The latest story on the Boston Globe reveals no clues on who the killers could be.
The sense of dread that was mentioned in the tweet was felt by the small visible immigrant community in Finland after we learned about the assassination of Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme on February 28, 1986.
I too hoped that the assassin that killed Palme isn’t an immigrant.
Not only was anti-immigration sentiment in Finland a fact of life back then, it was alive and kicking despite the fact that only 0.3% of the population (17,039 people) were immigrants.
Initial media coverage of the Boston tragedy revealed that US authorities suspected the killer to be a man who spoke with an accent. That man turned out to be a Saudi Arabian man who was later released by officials.
While the bombings were a cowardly act, the blowback from it proves even more devastating by revealing our prejudices and hatred of other groups.
You may have initially asked who could commit such a heinous crime in the US? It couldn’t be a white man, right?
The bombings raise an important question: If labeling, victimizing and generalizing of different groups are wrong, why do we persist in doing so?
The answer to that question should reveal the role that racism plays in our society and why the battle against this social ill is halfhearted.
Bhamra writes: ”The Oklahoma City bombing was a terrorist bomb attack in downtown Oklahoma on April 19, 1995. Initial news stories were quick to wrongly suggest Islamic terrorists were behind the attack. As a result, Muslims and people of Arab descent were attacked. Later, when the suggestions turned out to be incorrect and the suspect turned out to be a White man, the racial framework was quickly and conveniently dropped.”
On July 22, 2011, we suffered a similar tragedy when Anders Breivik went on the rampage in Norway and killed in cold blood 77 innocent victims. In the same way that initial coverage in Oklahoma pointed the finger at Muslims, some thought that the killer in Norway to be a Middle Easterner as well.
Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg showed exceptional leadership as Norway was mourning its victims. Contrary to Washington’s reaction to 9/11, the Norwegian prime minister said that his country’s response to the mass killings will be more openness and more democracy. According to him, Norway had become after July 22 “more tolerant, [and] more careful not to judge people” by ethnic origin.
Another tragedy that we are witnessing after 22/7 is how the media, politicians and public are collectively forgetting what Breivik did never mind its causes, which haver their roots in Islamophobia and anti-immigration sentiment.
While racism is an effective tool to divide and conquer other groups, we should never forget that it is a rabid dog on a short leash that can bite back and hard at its master.