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How race colors the way we see terror


Staff Writer

A few weeks ago, there was an attack on the Westminster bridge in London. A man by the name of Khalid Masood drove his car directly into pedestrians walking on the bridge. His fifth victim recently died in the hospital after she fell off the bridge. This was a very serious and horrible act, but this is not an excuse for racism or Islamaphobia.

When people think of the word “terror,” most people probably do not conjure up the image of a white person that committed the horrific act.

When someone that is white commits a heinous act of terror, there is no fear that white people will be profiled or discriminated against. This is not the same reality for many people of color, especially Muslims in today’s society.

Khalid Masood was a man who converted to Islam, and so this attack instantly became another example for people to cite in their hateful rhetoric about Muslims. Yet, when Dylann Roof of the Charleston church shooting committed his own heinous act, he was not profiled in the same way other races are. He was not described as an extremist thug, but rather as a mentally ill lone wolf.

No matter the person or their cause, terror and violence is horrific and wrong. But we as a society have to step back and examine why we do not see terror in the same way when it comes from someone white.

Senator Lindsey Graham described Dylann Roof as just “one of these whacked-out kids.” Because when a 21-year-old white guy shoots 9 people, its just one messed up individual. He is not representative of his entire race or religion.

The media’s word usage becomes extremely important in talking about terror. Descriptions shape the way we view people and their actions. President Trump’s use of the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism” in his constant tweets are just one example of the unbalanced rhetoric. There are 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide, and from what the media promotes, it would seem all of them are extremists.

There needs to be a more objective look at terror in America. How heinous an act is should not depend on the color of the attacker’s skin. Terrible crimes committed by a person should not become representative of that person’s race or religion.

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