April 24, 2013

The April 23 Style article on the Tsarnaev brothers, “Who do we think they are?,” is not a contribution to the discussion of terrorism. It is a vehicle for the tired, elitist tropes about hateful, ignorant Americans.

Several people quoted in the article implied that Americans categorize others by race, are bigoted against those with darker skin and view Muslims as violent. A Temple University lawyer said, “Maybe 2 percent of Americans” could pronounce Chechnya or find it on a map.. Having established American ignorance and bigotry, the article then highlighted the fear of many Muslims of “discrimination or retaliation or shame.” There is scant evidence that they have paid such a price.

A recent FBI reportshowed that less than 20 percent of hate crimes in 2011 were of a religious nature. Of those, 62.2 percent were directed against Jews or Jewish institutions and 13.3 percent against Muslims or Muslim institutions.

Our elites — including many journalists — deride notions of an American identity and American values as forces for good. The best response to this is that the American Muslim community should not, and has not, paid a price in the form of discrimination or retaliation. To punish the many for the sins of a few would be, well, un-American.

Jack Lichtenstein, Alexandria

In 2009, a U.S. Army major allegedly opened fire on his fellow soldiers, killing 13. In 2011, a gunman shot a congresswoman and killed a federal judge and five others. In 2012, a gunman opened fire in a Colorado movie theater, killing 12 people. In 2013, two men are alleged to have killed four people: three at the Boston Marathon and a police officer a few days later.

All four events were attacks on the United States and the American way of life. Yet only two were met with demands that the suspects be treated as enemy combatants — terrorists — and have their rights revoked. Of course, in both of those cases, the suspects are Muslim. The alleged shooter in Aurora and the confessed shooter in Tucson are white, American-born and non-Muslim.

I’m disgusted by the bigotry. Each of these incidents was a terrorist incident. But none of the men responsible or alleged to have been responsible is an accurate representation of his religion or ethnicity.

Clifton R. Hamilton, Philadelphia

Continue reading