December 15, 2015
Life is precious. It doesn’t matter to me what kind of life. I avoid killing spiders and other insects in my house for this reason. I cry when I hear about shelter dogs being euthanized for this reason. It truly hearts my heart when I see any sort of animal pain or animal cruelty for this reason. Of course, all human life is precious to me. I don’t qualify whose life it is. Apparently, the media and many in our society do. The disproportionate mourning and lack of righteous indignation on atrocities of all kinds has been disturbing to me in recent times.
A few weeks ago, Paris saw a horrific terrorist attack that left 129 people dead. News reports popped up all over. Social media went crazy. People on Facebook changed their profile pictures to show the French flag. However, only the day before a similar attack occurred in Beirut. No media blitz. No social media mass mourning. Over 6,000 Boko Haram related deaths occurred in 2014. At the beginning of this year, Boko Haram killed around 2,000 people in one day. Where was the righteous indignation there? Just these statistics alone lead one to believe that only white, Christian life matters. Some may argue, that these are regular occurrences in certain parts of the world, so it doesn’t get as much attention. Regular occurrence or not, life is life. Christian, Muslim. Jew, white, black, brown, and everything else in between. Life is life. The unnecessary and violent taking of it matters.
Backlash towards defenseless people because they have a similar cultural and religious background to those who have committed atrocities matters, also. The House of Representatives passed a bill limiting the number of Syrian and Iraqi refugees, subjecting them to a more vigorous vetting process. This legislation was proposed because a Syrian passport was supposedly found near the body of one of the suicide bombers. That was never confirmed, and it is believed that all the suicide bombers were French. One possible terrorist within the millions of Syrian refugees fleeing should make us fear them? If you use that logic since most of the mass shootings in this country are perpetrated by white, Christian men, we should fear them. That makes about as much sense as labeling Muslim refugees.
This labeling has made its way into the political arena and contributed to making politics in America the “Theater of the Absurd.” Trump is talking about a database for Muslims. His supporters ask him about “getting rid” of Muslims. Later, he called for banning Muslims from coming to the US. His rhetoric contributed to at least 19 reported acts of violence towards Muslims. Further, 31 governors have refused to allow Syrian refugees. The majority of these refugees are women and children. Maybe 2 percent are of combat age. Operating on fear is giving ISIS and other extremist groups exactly what they want: to divide. Let’s look at the history in this country. The real threat came from the European immigrants who massacred and disenfranchised Native Americans. Still, no one ever institutionalized fear of people from Europe. We are devaluing the lives of people who are seeking the same freedoms that all human beings seek. Their lives matter, just like ours do.
The lives of the victims of the San Bernadino shooting matter. It’s unfortunate that the suspected shooters happen to be Muslim. It will only feed into the Muslim hysteria already out there. Not too long after, members of the Muslim community in the Philadelphia region demonstrated their disapproval of ISIS and other terrorist groups. Many mass shooters are Christian men, but no Christian groups demonstrated to condemn these actions. It’s just understood that humanity is present and rational human beings don’t condone these actions. Overarching fear of mainstream Christianity doesn’t exist here. Why is there such fear of Muslims? It all matters.
Further, inequities exist in how the rule of law is applied. How is it that the South Carolina and Planned Parenthood shooters – clear threats to society- are taken alive while too many black men are shot by police for traffic violations? In the Planned Parenthood attack, Robert Deer killed 3, wounded 9, had a five hour shootout with police, and was taken alive. Laquan McDonald was shot sixteen times as he was walking and wasn’t actually doing anything threatening the moment he was shot. He maybe had a knife and police were responding to him breaking into cars in the area. McDonald was on foot. In the video that was released a year after this man was killed he is clearly walking away and being shot 15 seconds after he was on the ground. Even police officers said there wasn’t a need for force. In another case, an unarmed motorist was shot in the head for not having a front license plate. He was cooperating with police the moment he was shot. I’m confused. Men who have shot people and who are shooting at police are less dangerous than black men who are unarmed or have knives? The disparity in how some citizens are treated in relation to others cannot be denied. Excessive force and police brutality matter. It doesn’t matter whose life it is.
The point is, around the world, we are categorizing and ranking whose lives matter more and whose don’t. Appraisal of life is not an inviolable human right. Life comes through us but is not created by us. It all originates from the divine, so we are all divine. I guess some of us are just less divine than others. It all matters. All life matters. All lives matter.
Until next time… look behind and beyond the veil…
Sameena K. Mughal, Author, Freelance Writer