Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Crossing the line

We've by now read and heard about the young man who appears to have attacked a cab driver with a knife. The cab driver's "crime"? He admitted to being Muslim.

Although I suspect we'll be learning more about the attacker and his background in the coming days and weeks, I think a few points can be safely made now. One is that reducing the attack as merely the product of too much booze is a cop-out. Intoxication may have been a factor in reducing the attacker's inhibitions. That said, what was being inhibited in the absence of booze?

Another point is simply that our words have consequences. That's something I've said repeatedly over the last several years with regard to eliminationist rhetoric aimed at Hispanics and African-Americans by various hate groups. Recently we've witnessed a great deal of virulent anti-Muslim rhetoric that has grown more strident and more violent over the last few weeks. I cannot help but wonder what the likelihood of a crime like the one that happened last night in NYC would have been in the absence of the violent rhetoric. I'm willing to wager that it would have been much less probable without the near-constant stream of hate-filled messages about a group of people based on their religious preferences and ethnicity. The haters will no doubt take issue with my assessment, just as they have with similar assessments. That's to be expected. I will still offer that the rest of us with some semblance of rationality need to stand up and say enough is enough, and to call out the perpetrators in our mass media of the speech that may well have fueled this particular attack.

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