In the last week or so I have turned on MSNBC to find myself flooded with the “latest” on the Trayvon Martin shooting. Most of the newest information is rehashed and still leads me to the conclusion that George Zimmerman should be charged with the murder of the 17-year-old kid. A kid that only had Skittles and ice tea in his pockets. A kid that was talking with his girlfriend on the phone in the moments before his demise.
This tragedy should generate the attention, outrage, and activist support we see now. Hell, it should receive so much more and the magnifying glass of the press needs to be amplified.
But another tragedy currently sits on the back burner. It might explode onto the front pages in the coming days, but it will once again be there only because of activist outrage.
Outside of San Diego, Calif., a 32-year-old mother of five fell victim to a horrific hate crime. Shaima Alawadi’s family took her off life support on March 24 two days after her 17-year-old daughter, Fatima, found her bludgeoned to death with a note saying, “Go back to your country, you terrorist.”
The family found a similar note soon after they moved in but brushed it off as a prank. Care2′s Julie did a great job covering it when it first made the news.
An innocent young mother beaten because of her heritage and for wearing a hijab. Meanwhile, her husband has helped this country’s soldiers prepare for their time in the Middle East. He was doing a patriotic duty and she is killed because a few ignorant people thought they could.
Yet, where is this in the media’s outrage? Where are the protests?
A Facebook group is encouraging women to wear a hijab at some point this month. But it only has 10,000 likes thus far. In a nice piece for the Washington Post, Omar Sacirbey notes that a Christian woman will wear one on Easter Sunday and others that are participating:
“I am a devout Christian and will be wearing hijab as a prayer in April,” wrote Karen Streeter of Pasadena, Calif., next to her photo of herself in a hijab. “Growing up, I was bullied because I was different from others, so I have had a taste of what it is like to be harassed because of how you look.”
Her killer(s) remain at large and unknown. That might be a factor in the lack of outrage as Trayvon’s killer is known and still free of any charges.
Typically, the likes of Nancy Grace and other “news” shows cover the disappearance of blond-haired, white women. But the sheer shock of Trayvon’s death and the bamboozlement by the local district attorney’s office pushed it into our conscience. Progressive pundits and activists like Lawrence O’Donnell or Van Jones have remarked about the racism in this case. Trayvon being young and black comes off as a threat because society teaches us so. Over the last decade or so, our society has also been teaching us to fear Muslims. Especially when politicians tell us Muslims are not Americans, like Congressman Peter King did.
I strongly believe a large factor in the silence comes from an unsaid bias against people of the Islamic faith. For the last decade, we have fought a war on terrorism aimed at Islamic countries. So-called leaders raised hell at a proposed community center run by an Imam near the site of 9/11. On television, pundits routinely equate Islam with terrorism. Being a Muslim means you must be a terrorist. It was written on the note next to Awaladi’s body and the mainstream media’s lack of outrage says it as well.
As much as Jonathan Alter wants to link Ralph Nader to Trayvon’s death, the connections in this case are actually clear. A decade of war pushes the hatred of another group and religion into our subconscious. We fear the unknown other. Fear drives us to hatred and violence. Even if someone looks, acts, or believes differently, we must come to the conclusion of being one and same. Human, fragile and in this world together.
Ultimately, Trayvon could not walk home wearing a hoodie and Shaima could not walk outside her own home wearing a hijab.
Originally posted on The Political is Personal but expanded upon here.
Photo taken by haemengine