This article reports on the recent shooting of three Muslim students in North Carolina on Tuesday. The three young people- Deah Barakat, 23; his wife of a little more than six weeks, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 21; and her sister, Razan, 19- were shot by neighbor Craig Hicks, 46, allegedly over a long-standing parking argument. The young people’s father asserts that this was not over parking, but rather a hate crime based on their Muslim beliefs. Police, now including the FBI, are investigating the murders, as media and social outcries have slowly gained momentum.
I found several things about this article in particular very interesting. First, the article identifies the victims as “three young Muslims”. This is a racially charged way of identifying three young people who were in fact successful UNC students, as well as American citizens. The racial undertones clearly take the spotlight in this tragedy.
Let me pause by saying that I value all human life, regardless of sexual orientation, race, religion, or political affiliation. A life is a precious thing, and a life lost, while inevitable, is something to mourn.
Since the shooting, I have witnessed very little outcry via social media against these murders. While social media is one of many modes of communication in our society, it has become a powerful and convenient way for people to share their strong, and often narrow-minded opinions. I find the lack of media attention in this case inconsistent in light of the recent and racially-charged Ferguson case. There were easily millions of African-Americans who passionately argued the racial implications of that case. Likewise, I remember reading defenses for the police officer citing that, had the roles been reversed, a white American being shot by an African-American would have hardly made the ten o’clock news.
I am not writing to argue the Ferguson case. What I hope to do is show a parallel, or lack there of, in relation to the murder of these students. The press has remained shockingly neutral in this case in North Carolina. In comparison to the Ferguson case, the press has been equally obliging to label this recent murder as a hate-crime, motivated by Hicks atheist beliefs. These young people are equally hailed in the article for being model students but remain highlighted by their religious beliefs. Unlike the Ferguson victim, these minority victims have not sparked a passionate defense, and I do not believe that this story will continue to grab headlines for an extended period of time. Why? Because we have identified these people as Muslims, first and foremost; Muslims are not a protected minority in this country; neither do they enjoy the sympathy of those who champion the rights of minorities. They are mistakenly associated with foreigners who have made it their mission to harm Americans.
So because the press is not ready to take up arms over the victims, Hicks is not ostracized for his actions.The impression I got from reading the article was, “Yeah, he undeniably shot them. Now what what realistic reason can we find to justify his actions?” The apathy.
My point is that while the press has acknowledged the racial implications of this case, it has failed to defend either party involved. (Perhaps I am wrong and I merely read an article that merely reported the facts, instead of publishing an opinion.) However, I see this issue as a breach of ethics. We as Americans are willing to go up in arms and fight heroically with our words when a American minority is involved. But I think it is fair to say that Muslims are not an accepted American minority in this country. Their minority status is associated with our 14-year war on terrorism in the Middle East. As least, that’s how it started…
And therein lies the grey area. Clearly murder is immoral, unethical, and unlawful. But with this case being identified the way it has been, those victims have not received the respect and honor they deserve as human beings, but rather will continue to be commemorated as Muslim casualties.