And what's worse is when someone kills a mass of people! And I really hate simplifying this because I know that murder is a very complicated thing--hatred is a very complicated thing. And I'm so sorry for anyone who bears this much hatred in their hearts and minds. How do they live? Perhaps this is why they kill - they feel like it's the only way to let it out. I'm even sorrier for that kind of people.
Today, July 20th 2012, a young, white American went to a theater in Aurora, Colorado and just went on a shooting spree. Killed 12 people as of yet and left many, many more wounded (71 total). This is believed to have been the largest mass shooting in U.S. history. The killer's name is James Holmes, who was a graduate student at the University of Colorado - Denver's graduate program in neurosciences.
I imagine, as a Muslim, that many Muslims, while deeply disturbed and upset about this incidence, were relived that the the shooter wasn't a Muslim. Don't misunderstand this: I, like everyone else who has read and heard about this, am so sorry for the victims and their families, and I hope and pray that they are able to with this loss. Tragically also, the victims' names and the names of the deceased have not been released yet, so their families are in a loop right now. Can you imagine how terrified they must all be?
We Muslims (by which I mean many, many Muslims, not all) felt the same way when Seung-Hui Cho killed 33 people and injured many others at the Virginia Tech mass shooting on April 16, 2007. He committed suicide right away.
While not common, these incidences do take place across the U.S. every once in a while, rarely done by Muslims -- and hence never classified as terrorist attacks. For a list of some other mass shootings across the world, click here.
Now, as I said above, I don't want to simplify this matter - but what if it is simple? I mean, why aren't these shooters classified as terrorists? Why don't we see their races/religious affiliations highlighted when they commit these crimes? And, yet, when a Muslim does something, it's immediately known that this person is Muslim.
So, what exactly is terrorism? Who defines it? Why isn't just any hate crime (because terrorism is a hate crime, no?) considered terrorism? After all, the terrorist instills terror in the hearts and minds of people, especially the victims. Isn't that what happens when any shooting takes place? Isn't that what happens when we're in any dangerous, unsafe situation? Or does the number of people who get killed have something to do with this? Naaaa - it's just the name and religious affiliation-- only in the case of Muslims--that determines whether it's a terrorist attack or not. So these guys we read about who kill dozens of people are by no means terrorist, silly you. They're just ... well, they are just psychologically unstable, and they need help. Though that doesn't mean they won't be taken to trial and all and won't be hated by everyone around them. Except, I suspect that because of their (perceived?) psychological condition, they tend to get sympathy from others, so long as they're not Muslim. If they're Muslim, then it's like, "Seeee?? We TOLD you Muslims are terrorists! Get them out of our land! They don't belong in America! leave us alone! This is a free land!" and other such ignorant remarks are issued. To all of us Muslims.
You might be wondering why I care at all if this is a terrorist attack or not. But this isn't for me. It doesn't matter to me as an individual whether this is terrorism or not. It's for the sake of the perceptions that are planted in everyone's (non-Muslim Americans' and westerners') minds about my people (Muslims). It's about how politicized this term is. It's to point out to ourselves and others around us that, in reality, this politicization is a reminder that racism (if it can be applied to religious groups) and Islamophobia is still very much alive in the U.S. despite people's claims that it's not. Otherwise, what are we to make of the fact that when a non-Muslim commits murders or otherwise displays terroristic attitudes, we read that he is mentally unstable, but when a Muslim does it, he's simply a terrorist?