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CATASTROPHIC TRAGEDIES AT SPORTING EVENTS have long been cluttering our history. One in particular stands out to me, in comparison with Monday’s marathon explosion: the cancellation of the 2008 Dakar Rally, a race on precarious terrain, due to threats from Al-Qaeda. In this event there were, in contrast to the Boston Marathon, pre-emptive signs of a possible attack, including the “Al-Qaeda-linked slaying of a family of French tourists” and “threats launched directly against the race by terrorist organizations.” The difference is the clarity and the many answers. In this instance, we are left in limbo as we do not know who has done this, nor do we know why, and with no warnings the explosions have left an appalling aftermath: a city in shock and fear, three lives taken and so many changed forever.
Many struggle to comprehend how these explosions could have happened, not only on a theoretic level but also on a realistic one, considering the two thorough security sweeps done just before the marathon, as well as the heightened security alert with the knowledge of sporting events as common targets. To ask if the government, police or military can prevent this leaves much open and available. I would reply yes. Indeed, these events can be avoided but whether they can be avoided without forsaking constitutional rights is another question altogether. The true question to ask is, can our law enforcement agencies keep civilians safe without racial profiling and without violating our inherent, private and personal rights?
It’s a real tangle to attempt to unravel. When the explosions went out, pedestrians ran – as is expected, during a bombing, but one man was held down as he tried to flee with the crowd. Why? Because he was a Saudi national. Two questions immediately come to mind, each in aggravating contradiction with the other. On one hand, how on earth is it fair in any respect to judge and accuse a person immediately based on their looks or nationality? And on the other, how can we learn from history’s lessons without being mindless accusers of innocent civilians? Yet another person who was questioned was also a female Saudi national, a doctor even. This is the information we know, fed to us by the media. The news of the attack had hardly hit before stories based off of pure speculation targeting one of these Saudis began to emerge.
Source: New York Post
I would never have thought so gravely about the implications of such mindsets, had I never met and learned from our fellow TGS Arabs, Anat from Palestine and Jawed from Afghanistan. As we sat on my bedroom floor having just watched goosebumps-inducing raw footage from the explosions, we discussed the possibilities and what it might mean for us, on a level that policymakers hardly consider – a personal level.
“God, I hope it wasn’t an Arab,” Anat says, worriedly. We can only imagine what that might mean for her and Jawed’s visas, future with our school and aggressive interrogations with Homeland Security whenever they travel.
“God, I hope it wasn’t a North Korean,” I say, in part to lighten the mood but also partly in seriousness. We later gape at a website called “Public Shaming” that posts prejudice tweets, the latest targeting Arabs, North Koreans and even Obama with racist slurs and culturally-devastating remarks, following the marathon explosion. [Caution: incredibly vulgar]
Globally, politicians and policymakers must put themselves in every shoe and take a step in all walks of life before they can comprehend how powerful every decision they make is upon personal lives and entire nations, all the way down to how the people of this world treat each other.