Following the recent Islamic terrorist attack in New York, NBC published an article entitled:
“Muslim Americans Again Brace for Backlash After New York Attack”
The article included interviews with various Muslims regarding their reactions to the attack. Portions of the article are shown below:
Umer Ahmad, a 43-year-old Muslim-American physician from New Jersey, was in his Trenton office when he heard that a rented pickup truck had deliberately driven down a bike path in Lower Manhattan, killing eight people and injuring about a dozen more.
“My initial reaction was, obviously, concern and shock over what happened,” Ahmad told NBC News. “And then, basically, I was wondering if it was a Muslim who did it.”
“My biggest concern is that he’s readily identified as a Muslim and then that is extrapolated out to my own faith,” he said.
In the wake of Tuesday’s attack, some Muslim Americans and community leaders expressed concerns over how their religion would be perceived and whether Muslims would become targets of violence.
“There has been a history of, sort of, blowback, and that’s obviously going to be something that people think about,” said Ali Najmi, a board member of the Muslim Democratic Club of New York. “But the primary concern is, usually, and is now, how we can best lend ourselves in this time of crisis.”
Najmi predicted that Muslim-American groups would organize around ways to help those affected by Tuesday’s attack.
“Their primary concern is about how we can be helpful and how we can help the victims and people in crisis,” he said.
Afaf Nasher, executive director of the New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said the action and attitude that Muslim Americans must take were ones of continued service — “service to what needs to be done for, number one, those that are attacked, but also just in general for the general community.”
“From our perspective as Muslim Americans, we are just incredibly heartbroken,” Nasher added. “And just thinking about the senseless blood that was spilled and thinking about the families who are now in mourning, it’s difficult to even talk.”
Ahmad, the physician, said he worried about backlash every time an attack like Tuesday’s happens. But “I feel I’m more worried about what the response from political leadership would be,” he said.
Ahmad said he had seen the Muslim-American community change since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the deadliest on U.S. soil. “Ever since 9/11, we’ve become much less insular,” he said. “We’re more prone to reaching out and letting people know who we are and basically trying to create those connections in our communities. That’s been a real important bridge to try to at least mitigate some of the misconceptions, and consequences of those misconceptions,” he said.
Nasher said there were ways to combat the negative image often associated with Islam. “We as Muslims carry the responsibility to show what we say and what we preach, and that’s something we do every day,” she said.
Ahmad gave some simple advice. “Get to know a Muslim in your community, and maybe then you might have a different opinion,” he said.
People like NRA spokeswoman and author Dana Loesch took exception to NBC’s decision to focus on concerns about anti-Muslim backlash. Loesch wrote on Twitter:
“Maybe we should focus on those who were brutally murdered than a backlash you hope manifests.”
I too am offended by NBC’s attempt to make Muslims appear to be the victims here, so I have a little quiz for the journalists and editors at NBC, and it goes like this:
Q: When, in the course of less than twenty years, a country has suffered multiple terrorist attacks in the name of one religion, with such attacks killing more than 3,100 innocent people, which is the more salient news story:
A. Despite the murderous horror inflicted upon our fellow citizens Americans have shown remarkable humanity and tolerance by not retaliating in kind.
B. Muslim Americans are bracing for backlash that by and large never materializes
Maybe I missed it but I can’t recall reading about even a single killing of a Muslim by an American civilian as a response to the murderous onslaught we’ve endured. Human nature being what it is, I find this to be nothing short of remarkable. Think about it. On the one hand you have people who are so hateful and intolerant that they lash out at anyone, flying airplanes full of innocent people (including children) into buildings full of innocent people, and bombing, shooting and running people down indiscriminately. They can’t shed enough blood to satisfy their hate. On the other hand you have people who understand that they too are the targets of these killers, and who have seen great suffering and loss, and yet they don’t respond in kind by randomly attacking others who also identify as Muslim. Why isn’t that the big story at NBC?
In the article at NBC, Umer Ahmad suggests that we “Get to know a Muslim in your community,…” so that we might form “…a different opinion,” of Muslims. I would suggest to Mr. Ahmad that the Muslim community is the one that needs to be better acquainted with all facets of the Muslim community. I would also suggest that if “peaceful Muslims” refuse to get their hands dirty and force a referendum on the intolerance and murderous dictates of Islam, then they have no right to complain about the possibility of “political” backlash. Blind, naïve, infinite tolerance is too much to ask by those who refuse to make their own hard choices.