Parker: Boston bombers defy stereotypes
The terror of not knowing
By Kathleen Parker, Tuesday, April 23, 5:13 PM
As the manhunt for the Boston bombers reached its climactic conclusion, Americans of all hues and backgrounds heaved a sigh of relief. Thank goodness it wasn’t . . . fill in the blank:
? a white Christian from the South;
? a dark-skinned Muslim foreigner;
?an illegal Latino immigrant.
The marathon bombers, officials say, are of Chechen background. Huh? Is that, like, in Czechoslovakia or something?
If many Americans had forgotten or never known where Chechnya is — or that Czechoslovakia is now the Czech Republic — they were not confused when it came to the Muslim connection. The mere fact that the brothers, Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, were connected to Islam was sufficient for some to justify holding all Muslims in suspicion.
The relief, meanwhile, was that “our” demographic group wouldn’t this time be blamed. Even darker-skinned Muslims, familiar with group demonization following 9/11, reportedly were relieved.
... Alas, this is not a comparative religion seminar but an examination of the difficulties ahead as we wrestle acquired biases into submission and resist the urge to demonize groups of people. Discrimination is a life-saving tool in the jungle — steer clear of the hyenas — but it has no place in American jurisprudence. A U.S. citizen gets the full slate of equal rights and responsibilities, including a presumption of innocence, no matter which God he invokes. ...
Once we begin to discriminate in the assignment of rights to citizens and legal residents based on their thoughts, religious affiliation, assemblage — or our own assumptions — we risk becoming our own worst enemy.
At this juncture, the light-skinned, foreign-born, Muslim-leaning brothers who are suspected of inflicting terror on Boston fit neatly into no category we can define with certainty other than evil, which is, sadly, the unique provenance of the human race. Rooting it out will require more than tighter security or better immigration laws.