Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Thoughts on Manchester Attack....& Responses that Just aren't Helping

The Manchester terror attack broke my heart, as each and every terror attack does. It chilled me to my core…again. 

Image from
With the frequency of these attacks, it’s hard to process them all and properly mourn the loss before your attention is diverted to yet another tragedy. 

During the time I finished up this very blog post, I heard of deadly attacks in Baghdad and Kabul. It's hard, so hard to take it all in and grasp the magnitude of loss around the world. 

My thoughts are with all those who have suffered. 


The Manchester attack targeted children while they were out having fun, enjoying music, enjoying life... 

Image from here

It’s those very freedoms that terrorists hate, they abhor those who don’t live in the same ideological cages as them. 

I sit here and try to absorb all the fragmented commentary coming from all angles, trying to make sense of this, trying to understand how we can change it for the better. How do we stop this from happening? I don’t know.. because the terrorists motivations seem to lie in a tangled web of things, parts of which each side wants to deny. The most obvious of those is extreme blind faith in an ideology they consider to be infallible.  

I look around me, and see there’s nothing new here…

The left though well intentioned, nor the right, theists, nor atheists - no one is hitting notes (on this subject) that deeply resonate with me anymore. It’s pretty much the same tired commentary, the same motions we go through after each terror attack. 

“Islam is evil”

“”Nothing to do with Islam”

“Muslims must do more” 

“Muslims should not have to apologize for something they have nothing to do with” 

“Islam is war”

“Islam is peace” 

“Its all about foreign policy”

“Its all about religion” 

We really have to do better than this, because neither side on this issue is getting through to the other. Just screaming at each other till we’re blue in the face isn’t going to accomplish anything. 

It’s obvious this is a problem that needs to be addressed, denying links to Islam as people shout Allahu-akbar and take lives just doesn't suffice. It’s not helping anyone, least of all muslims. 

This isn’t to say that how all muslims practice Islam is hateful, divisive and dangerous...but we must acknowledge that some extreme muslims do take it this far, if we want to start solving this. Of course every community has it’s extremists..but Islam does have a lot more Westboro Baptist equivalents …and too many who are even more extreme than Westboro level.

There is a fundamentalism problem coming directly from the rigid orthodoxy that Islam commands in the 21st century. Our communities can certainly do more to promote diversity and inclusivity…we do fall short there, we’ve got to own it…only then can we begin to tackle it.

All that said though, here’s another thing thats not cutting it; Laying the blame on all Muslims collectively. 

This is like me saying portland, Quebec, NYC - white supremacist murders
all by you white people. Its just not right to lump innocent people of the same
demographic with violent savages who murder people. 

In this case in particular, it’s not fair to say Muslims could have, or should have done more as a community…as the bomber, Salman Abedi had been reported to authorities multiple times. There are mixed reports about him being banned from his mosque, so I'm not sure about that. But mosques can always do more to try and root out extremism. 

Full story here

With a frightening surge in white supremacist and anti-muslim attacks in this Trumpian era, the polarization amongst us is growing at such an alarming rate...I fear we’ll end up at a point where we have to pick a side between nazis and jihadis. Already people seem to think you can’t care about both…each team trying to emphasize the horrors of ‘the other side’ while trying to downplay or deny the horrors that come from people within their communities. 

Full story here

Full story here

We’ve got to do better, all of us. Looking inwards, is important for all communities, self-critique is how we improve.


The post terror attack scenario, is sadly our reality more and more often…around the globe. I understand its a moment of panic, anger, high emotion. People aren’t always thinking clearly on any side of the debate. But we have to do better, it’s the only way we can beat this monster. The one thing they want is to divide, disrupt and create chaos, sow hatred... in the days, weeks, months after…it’s something we should not let them have. 

There are a lot different types of counterproductive behaviour that emerge right after a terror attack, I feel we can make an already horrendous, painful situation a little more bearable if we refrain from this type of behaviour: 

'The Nothing to do with Islam’ chorus - I get it, it’s a reflex to distance either yourself (if you’re muslim) or an already persecuted minority from the worst, most violent people among them. But as all the liberal/muslim defenders of the religion will tell you, Islam is not a monolith. There are many people, majority of muslims in fact who manage to ignore or ‘re-interpret’ the same verses that drive the terrorists to kill. Why then does it all of a sudden become a monolith with boundaries that exclude terrorists when convenient? You simply cannot deny that those verses too come from the same religion. Just a different interpretation…if you start defining ISIS as ‘not real muslims’ you are playing their game. This is essentially what they do to dehumanize muslims that aren’t living up to their barbaric 7th century standards. The defensiveness and the desperation to distance terrorists from the religion that they themselves claim inspires them, makes defenders appear intellectually dishonest or in deep denial. In order to see the whole picture we cannot keep hiding from the fact that religion has a major role to play in religious extremism. There is hatred of music, hatred of women, of LGBT, of non-muslims coming from Islamic scripture, and theres no way you can modernize, reform or improve things if you at the very least don’t acknowledge that this problem exists. Fine…say this is not how you read it, but you can’t deny that the raw material exists for others to interpret in more violent ways. 

Sharing selective out of context Quran quotes guy - Nope. If you think you can share selective positive quotes, then don’t forget that people can and will rightfully share selective violent quotes to counter that too. This just looks like dishonesty or incomplete knowledge (which is also an issue, as many muslims are taught a curated version of scripture and often in a language they don't understand, I honestly didn’t know the existence of some of these verses till I did some research on my own…and hence, ‘ex-muslim’... 

I’ll make the same point for those who randomly share selective violent Quran quotes in the aftermath of a terror attack…not as a rebuttal to anyone denying violence in scripture…but just putting it out there that ..’look the scripture is violent… this scripture ALL muslims live by is dangerous” - no, this isn’t the time or place for that. I wholeheartedly agree…the scripture is vile, violent and all that. But tying ordinary muslims to these violent words when they may not fully be aware of its meanings, or even know of its existence is just in poor taste when they will likely already face a backlash of anti-muslim sentiment after an Islamic terror attack. I would say at other times, absolutely share this stuff, make muslims aware that this is what it says, and ask them to question if they’d really endorse this stuff. But RIGHT after a terror attack? Not a good idea imo. The bible has some vile violent verses too…we’ve just reached a point where many people don’t take it literally, and I hope we get there for Islam too…but if thats the goal tying *muslims in general* to violent verses in ancient scripture post-terror attack is harmful and counterproductive. 

Reminder, for the 'but what about Islam' types, I'm not sharing this to deny or shift blame from the
fact that the Quran has equally violent, abhorrent verses that do inspire such horrors. But just to demonstrate that it is not uniquely evil, it is just unique in how seriously it is still taken today by many...unfortunately. 

Being blindly narrative driven without any regard for the truth - whether on the left or right, all muslims bad or all muslims good. This can take the vicious Nazi-esque Katie Hopkins form (far more dangerous and sinister of course), or it can take a well-intentioned but dishonest form from a magazine trying to portray muslims in a good light. You might be well intentioned but if you knowingly lie about things (see Cosmo screenshots below), ultimately you’re doing more harm to Muslims than you are good, and also providing fodder to the far right…who will find it easier to dismiss positive stories about muslims because of things like this.  

So they seem to know it's a Sikh person at this point...

How then...does this dishonest headline get printed? I mean there might
very well be muslim Taxi drivers doing this as well, but juxtaposing it with
this picture of a Sikh man, is really misleading!

Jump to Islamophobia concerns community leader - usually a guy being interviewed on TV who actually barely says two words about the horror of this attack before turning it around and making it about him and his community. Come on dude, priorities…yes there will likely be an anti-muslim backlash…i feel you…I get your concerns, I think anyone of muslim background shares those…generally people with brown skin might be fearful, as some non muslims have been killed as well in anti-muslim attacks. So i get it, legitimate concern….but in the aftermath of an attack, the first thing on your mind shouldn’t be the impact this will have on you…have some sympathy for the victims, for the horror their families will be dealing with.  

Similarly, on the fliplside theres the 'You can only care about one thing at a time' person - To this individual if you are concerned about a woman’s hijab being violently ripped off at the same time as the attack, you clearly have no regard for the victims of this brutal attack. This seems absurd to me. You can simultaneously express concern for both…because both harm innocent people. To assume there is no real violence being committed against perceived muslims is deeply foolish or deeply sinister…this isn’t about a few mean words hurled at muslims. This is about pregnant women being kicked till they lose their babies, this is about innocent people being killed. Their lives are no less valuable than those who went to the concert. You can and should express concern about both, of course one of these is not a large scale terrorist attack so one is more pressing and urgent, but this doesn’t mean that anyone expressing concern for both cares any less about the victims of the actual bombing. It just means they are looking at the bigger picture and concerned both about longer term as well as immediate effects. Sad this has to be explained, but there are many 'skeptical takes' out this week saying the victims of the bombing take a backseat if u care about anti-muslim sentiment rising during this attack. Its not one or the other, this is tribalism, plain and simple. And until we stop making it about us vs. them…and see that it is a cyclical problem where hate feeds hate...and that far right anti-muslim hate also fans the fires of Islamism, we won’t be able to combat it. 

The niqabi who decides to wear a grenade t-shirt on TV - ok this is rather specific…but i’m referring to a real fucking person who thought it was a good idea to be on TV and be interviewed about radicalization in the muslim community while wearing a black t-shirt that spells love in fucking *weapons*. 

At first i thought it was a photoshop job.. but sadly not...See video here

What kind of a person thinks thats a fucking good idea..? I mean of course Tommy Robinson was all over that. I don’t think it necessarily says anything about her sympathies or affiliations, as it appears to be a widely available 

but I mean the optics of this on a hipster kid and on a niqabi talking about extremism on TV after an *islamic* *terror* *attack* are completely different. Of course people are going to draw conclusions about what she was thinking. It might very well be that she foolishly thought it was a good ironic msg about peace, love and being anti violence or something…but does not come across like that. Terrible terrible idea. NOT HELPING. 

'Hashtag Terror attack you say?!...Buy my books because I generally talk about Islam & stuff' person - 

Seriously...don’t be that person…don’t plug your non-specific stuff using a terror attack that took many lives. Of course some content is genuinely helpful and some content has been created as a specific response or commentary to this attack. That’s not what i’m talking about… it’s perfectly ok and also necessary for us to have access to different commentary and viewpoints after an attack. It’s how we process and form our opinions. This very piece is that… I’m talking about unrelated things that people are plugging using the hashtag and all. Don’t do that. That’s really in poor taste. 

Projecting negative intent on anyone that’s visibly muslim - Don’t be like Molyneux, probably a good rule in general.

(This is from the London attack, but the point remains.)

Whining about how people express their grief - Im sorry but people cope in different ways... are you that miserable of a person that you cannot let people heal in the ways that suit them? Coming together in groups, singing, feeling part of a community can feel powerful....and unite us at a time we feel so helpless otherwise. It can make us feel like we're doing something at least. Expressing ourselves through music and song is one of the things jihadis hate... its why they attack concert halls ffs. Don't be the guy that piles on to that. "Liberals just sing while the terrorists bomb us" - right cuz the singing is how they specifically plan to combat bombing. Liberals would go to battle ISIS armed with Jon Lennon songs I'm sure. 

I mean can people seriously have a problem with this kind of thing?

Is this not a valid & beautiful unifying, powerful response to human suffering? I don't understand the pettiness...

But What about [Name other Tragedy] - This isn't a contest, human suffering isn't a contest, please don't try to negate one tragedy by saying another deserves more attention. Yes some things get more air time than others, sometimes because it's closer to home, other times because of some aspects of the story. I wish i knew how to insure that all tragedies got equal attention, but this doesn't happen in the real please don't take away from other horrific acts because the one you're talking about got less coverage. 


I’m sure there’s a ton of more examples of unhelpful behaviour… feel free to add your observations too, in the comments below. But I just felt I had to put this out there after seeing so many cringeworthy takes, making an already tragic situation worse. 


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