Our VoiceCulture

In the Face of Tragedy, Some Respond with Hate

April Callen • Apr 16, 2013

As details emerge about Monday’s bombings at the Boston Marathon, tragedy opportunists have already been using the devastating incident to push their own hate-filled agenda.

On her website Atlas Shrugs, noted Islamphobe Pamela Geller published the headline, “Jihadi Arrested in Horrific Boston Marathon Bombing,” along with a screen grab of a New York Post article claiming police were holding a “20 year-old Saudi national suspect” in custody at an undisclosed Boston-area hospital. The story has since been addressed by Boston police commissioner Edward Davis as “not true.

After much criticism, Geller and her cohort, Robert Spencer, played defense, calling their detractors “Islamic supremacists” and “Twitter hyenas.”

Relying on the same New York Post report, Erik Rush, a frequent Fox News contributor, referring to Muslims, tweeted, “Yes, they’re evil. Let’s kill them all.” In the past, Rush has also argued that the United States is on its way to becoming a “Nazi-like state” and there is a “50 percent chance” that President Obama will create some kind of “cataclysm so he can implement martial law, cancel the 2016 election, and stay in power indefinitely.”

Conservative radio talk show host and conspiracy theorist, Alex Jones, recognizes the attacks as a government-led effort to increase the reach of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Among other false and insensitive remarks, Jones tweeted, “[…] Just wait folks, #TSA groping you at sporting events coming soon.”

Whatever truth is revealed in the coming days about these attacks – from the perpetrator(s) to the motive(s) – we cannot allow for hate-filled rhetoric, a call for racial profiling (or murderous retaliation), and opportunistic agendas to fill our hearts and minds.

Although it is tempting to respond to Geller, Spencer, and others Islamophobic bigotry with mentions of Timothy McVeigh, Adam Lanza, and other white domestic terrorists, we cannot engage that way.  That argument, like the aforementioned, is a distraction. It leaves no room to honor the lives lost, no room to console the injured, and no room to uplift the spirit of a fractured city left in the wake.

In moments of heartache and tragedy, it is almost easier to adopt the logic of these profiteers of Islamophobia and peddlers of anti-American theories. However, we must not allow these provocateurs to control and politicize the narrative around U.S. casualties. Now is the time for Americans to unite around the values many of us strive to embody every day – community, charity, tolerance, and equality.

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