The blood has not yet dried on the streets of Boston after a horrific attack which left three dead and dozens injured, yet the question for many now is not the identity of the perpetrator but how long his beard is.
The local authorities have not identified any suspects yet a plethora of minds have clearly been made up as to who committed this abhorrent act; the hashtag #Muslims went on to trend for hours alongside #Muslims Did It:
After checking in with friends in Boston, making sure all those I knew in the area were safe and after posting, a number of times, locations of RedCross blood donation facilities in Massachusetts it came time to go through Twitter’s dreaded search bar to comb through reactions. The main words I chose were #Arab, #Muslim, #Islam and I was not disappointed: a wave of tweets blaming Muslims, applauding a popular call for the deaths of “all Muslims”, an incitement to violence tweeted by Fox News guest Erik Rush, and of course – the slurs: sand niggers, towelheads, sand monkey’s etc.
I will not forget Boston marathon terror…WHY!WHY! I really do not understand why muslims love terror? I do not understand.It is terrible.
— 윤소원 (@_Austin_Y) April 16, 2013
— lib fuktard (@prezobummer) April 16, 2013
“Not being racist but…”
Boston is a prime example of why I’m occasionally racist, is there something wrong with your brains you stinky rag head? — joel✟ (@JoelDonc) April 15, 2013
The New York Post alleged that a Saudi national had been caught after the attacks, but later authorities acknowledged that this was false, that there was no suspect – let alone a “Saudi”, but this did not stop others from attacking Arabs en masse as a result of such poor, hysterical journalism:
A Saudi is a suspect in the bombing, figures. Fucking sand nigger — Buckwild Walker (@walker_1994) April 15, 2013
Well, they caught the towelhead that bombed us earlier today. Fuck that guy. — Jonathan (@Jonathanqt) April 16, 2013
“fucking jihad towelhead motherfuckers” – my mom’s take on the bombings in Boston — b-robs (@VaniIlaThunder) April 16, 2013
Who the fuck bombs the finish line of a marathon??? Grow some fuckin balls u towelhead pricks, ur god dosent love u and u fuckin stink — colin landers (@LandersColin) April 15, 2013
Patriot Day? Tax Day? Boston, home of the Tea Party? Obviously these bombings were perpetrated by Muslims. Or maybe illegal aliens. — SpikePriggen (@spikepriggen) April 16, 2013
I hope somewhere in some bar in Boston some towelhead walks in n some drunken Mick spits in his stupid sand monkey face — browny (@browntown00) April 16, 2013
what the actutal fuck is this world turning into? what did the good people of boston ever do to you fucking sand monkey — Rachel Beatrice (@Raychhh_) April 15, 2013
@trumpetman Then 40% of US Muslims need to find a new country to live in.
— john betts (@JohnFromCranber) April 16, 2013
Bombing in Boston, probably some fucking raghead sand monkey mother fuckers — imahugedeushebag(@nickpandanell) April 15, 2013
And then of course there were the calls to violence:
I wouldn’t join the war to fight for my country; I hate America. I would join the war to kill those fucking towelhead Taliban fuckers. — Rairai (@cheaplines) April 15, 2013
Fuckin’ sand niggers attackin’ us on our home front agian! This is mother fuckin’ bullshit! Kill those mother fuckers. — Darrin Montgomery (@Hellbilly_95) April 16, 2013
There are more outright racist, unashamedly vile tweets documented by Public Shaming, a page created by Matt Binder dedicated to exposing “tweets of privilege.” And then there is the plane headed to Chicago which was forced back to Logan Airport, located in the East Boston neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts, after passengers heard two men sitting next to each other speaking Arabic. Glenn Greenwald writes in the Guardian:
The rush, one might say the eagerness, to conclude that the attackers were Muslim was palpable and unseemly, even without any real evidence.
[...] the rush to proclaim the guilty party to be Muslim is seen in particular over and over with such events. Recall that on the day of the 2011 Oslo massacre by a right-wing, Muslim-hating extremist, the New York Times spent virtually the entire day strongly suggesting in its headlines that an Islamic extremist group was responsible, a claim other major news outlets (including the BBC and Washington Post) then repeated as fact. The same thing happened with the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, when most major US media outlets strongly suggested that the perpetrators were Muslims.
And though these comments appearing online may come across as meaningless, knee-jerk reactions, they are important and must be addressed with as much passion as one would any other calls to violence or racism. Even persons of colour who are often mistaken for being Muslim, due to their complexion or accents or even religious garb, continue to face relentless attacks. In December a man was killed after pushed onto subway rails of an active train in Queens, New York by a woman who thought him to be Muslim: “I pushed a Muslim off the train tracks because I hate Hindus and Muslims ever since 2001 when they put down the twin towers I’ve been beating them up.” Twitter was overcome by despicable xenophobia and Islamophobia to such a degree that people took notice and began sending out warnings to people of colour (POC) in the area who may face backlash:
POC in the area – please stay safe. Muslim accusation are already running wild. I’m nervous for the way people might act crazy. — XXX (@hjaybee) April 15, 2013
Second that. Be careful, folks. RT @legyptian Arabs, Muslims, Brown and Black People – STAY HOME
— sophia عزب azeb (@brownisthecolor) April 15, 2013
Islamophobia is real, it is palpable, it is present – but there also exists, shoulder to shoulder, a bit of compassion. Not apologia or tokenization but fellow feeling, an honest and open goodwill of sorts; many on Twitter sort of took over the #Muslims hashtag and began sending out tweets of empathy, of reason and of kindness:
Hope people don’t go on the “Muslims did it” bandwagon. Don’t be an idiot and know the facts first.
— JJ (@KSIOlajidebt) April 15, 2013
This, from 2010, is worth sharing again – particularly today: “All Terrorists are Muslims…Except the 94% that Aren’t” bit.ly/aiqIEx
— Chris Stedman (@ChrisDStedman) April 16, 2013
The societal modus operandi of elevating Arab and Muslims to the level of guilt strips one from the ability to grievetinyurl.com/cfvwu3k
— Verso Books(@VersoBooks) April 16, 2013
For every person hoping Boston Marathon bombers won’t turn out to be Muslims, there’s some professional bigot desperately hoping they will.
— Abe Greenhouse (@grinhoyz) April 16, 2013
I’d like to think since 9/11, the US and humanity in general has wised up in the Muslims vs terrorists distinction. Don’t let me down, world
— Asteris Masouras (@asteris) April 15, 2013
— Timothy DeLaGhetto (@Traphik) April 15, 2013
And so it must be said, that though it is often difficult to hear humanity over the racket of gunfire, it is there; even amidst tragedy there is laughter.