September 19, 2016

The Bombing in New York: Who to Blame?

“We know that terrorism can come from any quarter, as long as it is radicalized. And yet, across the political spectrum, we are radicalizing more and more people, “ ~ Jay Michaelson

When the bombing occurred in New York, like a lot of people, I had thoughts running around in my head about who had done it. Blame could be placed on a variety of causes, groups, ideologues, fanatics or you-name-its.

When I began reading Jay Michaelson’s article on the subject in The Forward, I found myself responding to every one of his points.

As I started reading, I thought, “Maybe Michaelson’s right.” Maybe it was just some copy-cat guy who wanted five minutes of fame.

Or maybe it was an anti-Semitic or anti-Muslim attack—or maybe an anti-Black attack or an anti-Blue attack—after all, a lot of cops would have been called to the scene, making them easy targets.

On the other hand, maybe it was an anti-gay attack…but nah, it couldn’t have been that. As Michaelson himself mused: “[Was] Chelsea even a gay neighborhood? Could be it was just gay in general. Isn’t every neighborhood in New York just gay in general?”

God, was it “terrorism?” If so, what kind? Muslim terrorism? Islamist terrorism? Besides—as Michaelson reminded us—didn’t the Dalai Lama just say something about how we shouldn’t align religions with terrorism?

Maybe it was American right-wing terrorism, like Timothy McVeigh? (I didn’t think so though, I mean nobody does that kind of stuff anymore, right?)

But wait—what about the standoff in Oregon. Wasn’t that right-wing terrorism?

Okay, it even could have been left-wing terrorism, like the anti-police shooter in Dallas—or maybe it was both far right-wing and far left-wing terrorists targeting government officials, police, gays, blacks, Muslims, Jews…anyone. Hell, there’s so many of them.

I can’t tell the difference between them, and what they stand for, and what they are targeting

Okay, I got it—there’s a lot of people to blame.

But then, maybe everybody is just jumping to conclusions. Maybe we’re scared to admit that we just don’t know.

Maybe we’ve become so scared that, in fact, we have forgotten something very important.

“When…my/your/our thinking edges toward the extreme, makes room for violence, [and] encourages the unstable, we tolerate the language of war, us versus them, treason, prison, execution, shooting…conspiracies, revolution, generalizations, stereotypes, tribalism, nativism, nationalism, ethnocentrism, Islamophobia  and anti-Semitism.  When…we make the background of the terrorist the enemy rather than the terrorism itself, before we know what really happened, so many narratives, so many backgrounds, so many motives all seem entirely plausible.” ~ Jay Michaelson 

Thank you Jay Michaelson, for allowing me to see just how far I had jumped into my conclusions and away from thoughtful response. Thank you for allowing me to see that it’s not who did the bombing in Chelsea that matters, but that it is the societal and political climate that supported it and allowed it to happen that matters.

And finally, thank you for helping me to realize once again, what such events cause me to forget—that “terrorism can come from any quarter, as long as it is radicalized,” and that the default response to its acts should not be “Who to Blame?” after it happens, but rather to monitor the way we think about it before it does.


Author: Carmelene Siani

Image: Twitter @BreakingNews

Editor: Yoli Ramazzina

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