In light of the recent shooting at the University of North Carolina’s Chapel Hill campus, a new round of national debates about Islamophobia in the United States has emerged.
Cause for concern about possible Islamophobic motivation for the crime arises from the ethnicities of those involved, the perpetrator being a white male who, according to CNN, “hated religion,” and the victims being three Muslims.
The New York Times quotes police describing the motive as “an ongoing neighbor dispute over parking.” It takes an unstable person to commit such an atrocity, no matter the motive, but are we as a nation expected to seriously consider that this man killed three people in cold blood over where to park his car?
Even if we, the audience to an investigation with national impact, agree to consider these murders outside of the legal definition of a hate crime, would the message broadcast to the Islamic community be any different?
Our government’s response to Islamic suffering in Palestine has been the renewal of donations of weapons to Israel, such as that made by the Bush administration in 2007. That deal promised $30 billion in purely military aid over a 10-year period, according to the U.S. Congressional Research Service.
Within our borders we see the dehumanization of Islamic and Arab populations in video games and movies. These points, however, have been made ad nauseum and will be thoroughly explained by a cursory Google search. I will thus refrain from over-explaining American Islamophobia.
Barring a miracle of efficacy in the United States justice system, Craig Hicks will likely find himself charged with murders not classified as hate crimes. Let’s not allow this discussion to end there.
Lawrence University is a place of great intercultural acceptance and learning. While we as students may not impact the outcome of that specific case, we can still impact our community’s culture. I urge you to keep an eye out for instances of Islamophobia, perceived or factual, and try to further your understanding of the problem.
Groups such as the Committee on Diversity Affairs and Students for Justice in Palestine hold regular panels and discussions dedicated to the understanding and propagation of awareness of injustices felt by our fellow Lawrentians and our fellow Americans. Those events are opportunities to emulate the words of this week’s convocation speaker Kwame Anthony Appiah. In his words, let us all seek to treat each other and those around us with “a decent respect.”