Terrorism Has No Face
In 2011, a series of tragic attacks were initiated against the Norwegian government and due to their radical nature, a similar thought settled into the minds of civilians worldwide- it must be a Muslim. When people had learned that the attacker was a white Christian extremist, it was a not only a disturbing wake-up call, but also reckoned a reality check. His name is Anders Behring Breivik and the reasoning behind his anger was his strictly right-wing fundamendalist ideals and how they opposed immigration. Anders and the cultural nationalists he identifies with believes that Muslims threaten the traditional Christian identity of Europe. He was cold and showed no remorse for his horrific actions, which makes the whole situation that much more alarming and difficult to understand. As what usually happens with these cases, he would be absolved by many as just a disturbed individual who is in need of serious attention, rather than what some might seem more appropriate: a terrorist. It seems risky to just throw the word “terrorist” out there, but bearing his actions in mind, is that not what he would have been referred to had he been Muslim or had he not been Caucasian? It is a thought worth considering.
Reading this article, I am reminded of an appalling incident that occurred in the U.S.- the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School. When I heard about it on the news, my heart was broken and I could not even comprehend what kind of person would be able to do something as depraved as that. In the days following, when the shooter was revealed to the world, some articles focused on the fact that he was sick, or mentally ill, or that it was such a shame and I really had to step back and think. If the shooter had been Muslim or even a person of colour, that act might have been declared an act of terror or war.
It is slightly terrifying when I hear people say that we as a society have come a long way from the days of religious and racial profiling. That being said, I agree that we have come a long way but by no means does that translate to the problem being gone. People have stigmatized whenever they hear a foreign-sounding name on the news, to associate it with violence and so many innocent people have had to suffer because of that. The only hope is to unlearn and unteach such ignorant worldviews, because ignorance is not inherited. The title of this blog post is meant to make you think and consider whether you are a victim of institutionalized hatred- remember that extremism, like people, can come in any colour, religion, shape, or form.