So, I’m not going to lie, the mass shooting in San Bernardino feels different. It feels more volatile, and tears at my gut because I foresee it leading to a horrible ripple effect. And, it’s because of who the killers were. The fact that they were Muslim worries me. Not because I think they represent all Muslims, but because they fulfill the expectations of the anti-Muslim movement in this country.
There have been over 350 mass shootings in this country so far in 2015. The fact that most of the shooters look like me doesn’t matter to those who want a reason to hate Muslims. No one saw me in a grocery store after the Robert Dear shooting and cursed my ethnicity. No one confronted me about my whiteness after the Emanuel Nine were killed in my hometown. I’ve never been profiled and accosted by anyone because I match the typical description of a mass shooter, an assuming white male.
Yet, millions of Americans will wake up today and eye Arab-Americans with distrust at best and disgust at worst. They will mutter something horrible about their beliefs and culture. They will confront Muslims (or any person of Middle Eastern descent), and ask them to denounce the shooting. They will blame all Muslims for the senseless murder of 14 people at an office holiday party, whereas I’ve never once been blamed for the murders committed by the people that look like me. That ripple effect I mentioned earlier will be crazed, armed, and full of a deadly bloodlust. I don’t want to be right, but history suggests otherwise.
So what can you do after this shooting? Don’t give into your basest human nature. Instead watch out for your neighbors and loved ones. Their race, gender, political affiliation and religious beliefs matters not to me. Stand by and up for them no matter what they look like or how they vote or what prophet they pray to. Terrorism wins when we as a society victimize the innocent simply because they share certain commonalities with the terrorists. Guns, suicide bombers, beheadings; these are just the tools of terrorists. Fear is their weapon. They are counting on us to do their work and turn on each other. They want us to defeat America.
I, for one, will not participate in the hate. I won’t give them a victory.