By QASIM RASHID
This glaring fact was on the world stage this week for all to see. Blasts in Ankara and Brussels garnered shockingly different responses—both in terms of sympathy for victims and anger towards extremists. Brussels victims received immense sympathy and attention, while Turkey’s Muslim victims were comparatively ignored. More Muslims have been killed at the hands of Daesh, Boko Haram, and Al Qaeda than anyone. What but racism accounts for the outrage over non-Muslim victims, but comparative apathy over the Muslim ones?
It isn’t just media that’s complicit in this double standard. World leaders share some of the blame. After the January 2015 Charlie Hebdo atrocity, more than 40 world leaders convened in Paris to march in solidarity with the 11 victims. However, when200 people were murdered just two weeks later in Nigeria, it barely made a bleep by comparison.
Some are quick to argue, “Muslims aren’t a race, so I can’t be racist.” Rice University sociologist Dr. Craig Considine repudiates this simplistic understanding of racism,writing,
Race is a “floating signifier,” meaning that it is a fluid concept which has specific connotations during certain moments in history. Racism is no longer [only] about race (skin color) but culture.
Nazis believed their race and culture was superior those of all other races. What culminated in the Holocaust began with the demonization of minorities, selective activism and a public who bought into the lie that their race was superior to others.
As Dr. Considine elaborates,
Cultural racism, therefore, happens when certain people perceive their beliefs and customs as being culturally superior to the beliefs and customs of other groups of people. Cultural racism, in-turn, reproduces the idea of “the hierarchy of cultures,” meaning, in the context of current affairs, that “our” Western culture is superior to “their” Islamic culture.
This cancerous cultural racism is the culprit behind Western apathy towards acts of terrorism that happen in Ankara or Nigeria or Syria, but outrage at acts of terrorism that happen in Paris, Brussels or San Bernardino. Likewise, cultural racism empowers racists to dismiss white terrorists who murder dozens of children in Newtown, Conn., as “simply crazy,” but demand collective punishment of all American Muslims withapartheid treatment after Brussels.
Meanwhile, the FBI reports that the gravest threat to American safety is not “Radical Islamic terrorism,” as some on the far right pedantically parrot; but, in fact, right wing “Christian” terror groups born and raised in America. Yet, virtually every presidential debate this election season has focused only on the former.