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Riddhi Andurkar, Staff Writer
Terror knows no race, religion or nationality. Consider three events that shocked our country in recent weeks.
On Oct. 1, a white male gunman opened fire on a crowd of 22,000 from his room in the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas, Nev., killing 58 and injuring 546. This attack was simply labeled another mass shooting.
On Nov. 5, a gunman opened fire at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, killing 26 and injuring 20. The gunman was a white male who had been abusing his family members. This attack was more deadly than the terror attack in New York, yet it was only classified as a “mass shooting.”
On Feb. 14, a gunman opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. Fourteen people were injured, and 17 were killed: 15 students and two faculty, making this the second deadliest shooting at a U.S. public school, according to the Washington Post. When the media covered this tragedy, reporters repeatedly referred to this as another “mass shooting.”
Following these events, when prominent leaders were asked whether this is terrorism, they reminded that this was a time mourn the loss of lives and not to “politicize” the tragedy or call it names. Many labeled these events as resulting from mental illness.
On Oct. 31, a 29-year-old man drove a rented pickup truck into cyclists and walkers in New York City. He killed eight people and injured even more. Law enforcement identified him as an Uzbek nationalist. Authorities also discovered that this man had been providing material support to ISIS. According to CNN, a note was found near the truck claiming that this attack was made in the name of ISIS.
This act was immediately named an act of terror.
It is interesting that a crash carried out by a man of Middle Eastern descent is immediately called terrorism, yet the two other shootings, which were much deadlier than the New York attack, are called mass shootings, conceivably because the shooters were not of Muslim or Middle Eastern descent.
We must understand that not all Muslims are terrorists, just like we accept that not all Caucasians are terrorists.
Muslims follow Islam. Unlike many of the misconceptions in this country, none of their religious texts say anything about violence against civilians. It must be frustrating for American Muslims to be discriminated against every time the suspect of an attack is Muslim or of Middle Eastern
background, leading to another set of rumors that all Muslims follow the same religion as the suspects and could potentially be terrorists planning an attack.
According to the Huffington Post, the University of North Carolina conducted a study that proved that less than 0.0002 percent of Americans were killed by Muslims. This number is minimal, but it has led to over 1.6 billion followers of Islam to be looked down upon and discriminated against. In fact, this study reports that Americans are more likely to be killed by their television or couch.
When suspects of attacks are non-Muslims, society refers to them as its outcasts or mentally ill persons, and such incidents are considered “isolated.” They are also a part of society, but “do not truly belong.” In other words, the individual is blamed, not the entire group of people.
However, if the suspect is Muslim, the entire Muslim American population is blamed. The act of one single outcast of their religion causes them all to be blamed.
When the suspect in an attack is Muslim or of Middle Eastern descent, that individual should be blamed and not every single Muslim in the world. Attacks conducted by Muslim terrorists are receiving a lot of media attention, adding on to the misconceptions made about Muslims.
The travel ban didn’t help the situation. In fact, it just added fuel to the fire. When President Trump created the travel ban from the seven Middle Eastern countries, the hatred towards Muslims grew stronger. Sure, there may be terrorist organizations from Middle Eastern countries, but just like the non-Muslim terrorists, they are the select few who do not follow the religion. They attack civilians and claim that the attacks are being carried out in the name of Islam.
The term Islamophobia was created to give this hatred a name. The dictionary definition of this term is the dislike of or prejudice against Islam or Muslims, especially as a political force. However, what this term really means is discrimination against Muslims because of a select few religious outcasts.
There are numerous acts of terrorism committed by Muslims and persons of Middle Eastern origins, but we must also acknowledge that there are equal number of non-Muslim Americans who have committed such acts.
Timothy McVeigh, a Caucasian, detonated a truck loaded with explosives and destroyed a federal building in 1995, killing hundreds of men, women, and children in Oklahoma City. Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber, terrorized the nation for 20 years through his mail bomb campaign.
Adam Lanza, the Sandy Hook Elementary shooter, opened fire in a school, killing innocent children and teachers.
These are just a few prominent examples. Does this automatically make all Caucasians terrorists? Of course not. We need to exercise better judgment before stereotyping an entire population as terrorists.