Friday May 10, 2013

Marathon bombings:
The danger of stereotypes

Editor of the Reformer,

After the horrific events in the Boston Marathon on April 15, reports came out that a Saudi man was being questioned in relation to the attacks. He was tackled as he ran away from the blast, on the grounds that he looked "suspicious." His apartment was practically torn apart, and his roommate was interrogated for five hours. What evidence led to such a thorough investigation? What caused him to be tackled? The only thing that differentiated him from the rest of the panicked crowd was his nationality.

This sickens me. This is yet another example of how far our country has to go in terms of racism and prejudice. Amidst the terror and chaos, there were many amazing acts of kindness, demonstrations of the goodness of mankind; couldn’t one such act be spared for this young man? The Boston Marathon is an impressive example of international cooperation, an event that brings runners from nearly every country. These people, who are so eager to believe in an innocent man’s guilt, tarnish that reputation.

This is especially disturbing for me as a student living in Marrakech, Morocco, an Arab nation. I have lived with two host families in my six months here, both of them Muslim, and both of them some of the most warm-hearted, welcoming and just generally good people I have ever met.


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As I was sitting, watching the terrible news, my host mother just kept saying how sorry she was, and my host dad asked Allah to bless the souls of the victims. Now, I can’t help but wonder, had he been there, would he have been tackled, too?

Americans remain astoundingly ignorant about the Arab people and Islam, and we need to rectify that. There are over 350 million Arabs in the world, and 1.6 billion Muslims, and it’s unconscionable that such a large segment of the world’s population be marginalized, and only thought of in terms of its most radical members. Nearly everyone I’ve met in Morocco has been incredibly friendly and hospitable, oftentimes more so than the average American. Associating all Muslims with terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda and the Taliban is the comparable to associating all Americans with the Ku Klux Klan, and the type of racial profiling of which that Saudi man was a victim is ineffective and wrong.

After every tragedy like the Boston bombings, we as a nation hold our collective breath, waiting to find out more about the perpetrators, thinking, "Who were they, to do such a thing?" We forget that what defines a person is their actions. The bombers were Muslim. They were also white, Chechan, and male. One of them boxed. One of them skateboarded. So what? None of those words, those labels, made them do what they did. They were individuals, and made their own choices, and no one else should be blamed for what they did because of some perceived connection.

Ethan Reichsman,

Marlboro, May 4

Opinion writer got it right

Editor of the Reformer:

I agree wholeheartedly with the views expressed today by Elan Moses in the Reformer: "Governor’s misguided views on gun control." I believe Shumlin is out of step with the majority in Vermont and this country, and I predict that he will pay politically for it in the future.

Jonathan Flaccus,

Putney, May 9

More on Green Up Day

Editor of the Reformer:

My thanks to Art Costa for his comments about Bud cans on Clean up Day. In Brookline, though, on the dirt portion of Grassy Brook Road, Miller Light was the winner. So, as Art suggested, if you are reading this and you work for Miller Light, could you please encourage your customers to recycle and not trash the landscape.

Helen W. Samuels,

Brookline, May 9