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04/18/2013

Here's hoping the Boston Marathon bomber is white

The hunt continues for the Boston Marathon bomber, or bombers. As the complicated investigation continues, Americans anxiously await news of his ethnic identity. If the suspects are Muslims it is sure to exacerbate social tensions. And if the bomber is white? Some are hoping the attacker or attackers are just that -- for the sake of social cohesion and America’s well being. 

David Sirota argues in Salon that the suspects' racial identity will “dictate what kind of governmental, political and societal response we see in the coming weeks.”

He writes: “That means regardless of your particular party affiliation, if you care about everything from stopping war to reducing the defense budget to protecting civil liberties to passing immigration reform, you should hope the bomber was a white domestic terrorist. Why? Because only in that case will privilege work to prevent the Boston attack from potentially undermining progress on those other issues.” 

Anti-racist campaigner Tim Wise writes that if the suspects are white it will have no bearing on how white people in general are treated, pointing to 50 examples including Oklahoma bomber Tim McVeigh and Olympic Park bomber Eric Rudolph. 

"White privilege is knowing that if the Boston bomber turns out to be white, we  will not be asked to denounce him or her, so as to prove our own loyalties to the common national good. It is knowing that the next time a cop sees one of us standing on the sidewalk cheering on runners in a marathon, that cop will say exactly nothing to us as a result.

“White privilege is knowing that if this bomber turns out to be white, the United States government will not bomb whatever corn field or mountain town or stale suburb from which said bomber came, just to ensure that others like him or her don’t get any ideas."

Amy Davidson observes in the New Yorker that the Saudi bystander who was injured in Monday’s carnage was immediately and unfairly viewed with suspicion because he was a Muslim.

“The bombing could, for all we know, be the work of a Saudi man—or an American or an Icelandic or a person from any nation you can think of. It still won’t mean that this Saudi man can be treated the way he was, or that people who love him might have had to find out that a bomb had hit him when his name popped up on the Web as a suspect in custody. It is at these moments that we need to be most careful, not least.” 

The Toronto Star's Rick Westhead is reporting from Boston. Read his latest reports here and here 

Hamida Ghafour is a foreign affairs reporter at the Star. She has lived and worked in the Middle East and Asia for more than 10 years and is the author of a book on Afghanistan. Follow her on Twitter @HamidaGhafour 

Comments

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I don't care what race the bomber is - I only care that the person is captured and faces the death penalty.

It's not about skin colour, it's about motive and history...

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