I say this in full knowledge of the fact that I usually roll my eyes pretty hard at the "R" word. I think racism is a trumped-up excuse for people to use when they don't get what they want as easily as they would like. I think that it's an easy-out for the media when trying to understand a problem. I think it's a sure-fire way for people to make money off of the plight of others. I think that the news organizations thrive on the idea that a domestic conflict like racial strife is dividing this country... but I digress.
Just a few short days ago, a somewhat unbalanced man walked into an Amish school, barricaded the doors, and began executing little girls, systematically and coldly. He did this for no political gain - no attempt to change anything in the world other than to assuage some mess in his psyche. The fact that he was a white American made this a tragedy, immediately, to the media. If he had been from the Middle-East, the immediate assumption would be that this was a terror attack. The media would speculate wildly about motivations and the guessing games would begin over who it was that gets to claim responsibility. Is it Hamas? Is it Hezbollah? Whodunit??
How about a more fictional example for you?
My friend Fuat, a guy of fairly obvious Mediterranean heritage, accompanies me on a road trip to see, say, the George Washington bridge in NYC. Once there, we separate. I go to one end of the bridge and start taking pictures, and he does the exact same from the other side. Who's getting the looks? Who, pray tell, is security maybe paying more attention to?
"Oh come on, Jeremy!" I hear you saying, "I really doubt anyone would notice someone taking pictures of that bridge!"
Oh, really? How short is your memory, that some people of slightly darker complexion (college students in fact) were under extreme suspicion recently because they had photos of the Mackinac Island Bridge in their computer? Their crime, apparently, was to buy a ton of cheap cell phones in Michigan on a sightseeing trip for resale in school, where they could make enough money to live on from doing this. If they had been white, black, or Hispanic, would anyone have noticed?
70 years ago, Adolf Hitler managed to demonize a group of successful people in his own country by calling them an enemy - not ALL Jews, mind you. Plenty of people at the time were saying that there are "good Jews", but what a shame they had to be ruined by the minority of "bad Jews". Let's do a quick substitution here - put in "radical fundamentalists" somewhere in there, and you might see what I mean.
This is not to say that I don't think that there are terrorists out there, or radicals who want to kill us to make a point of whatever it is that they want to make a point of. I am saying that our country is slowly slipping into a very ugly slope of racism. This time, it's a real racism based on fear of the unknown...
How many people have Arabic people murdered in our country? It's a tiny amount compared to the amount that have died at the hands of black, white, and Hispanic citizens. Why is it, then, that we're becoming trained to jump at burka-shaped shadows?