Thursday, May 05, 2011

Thoughts on misdirected hate

This past Sunday was a busy day of painting, shopping, swing-pushing, barbecuing, the company of friends, and Sunday evening, sitting on the couch to catch up on TV which was promptly interrupted by the announcement: Bin Laden is dead and people are cheering on the streets; my initial reaction? Numbness. I thought of the lives lost, both Muslim and non-Muslim. I thought of how 9/11 forever altered the landscape of this country and my life. The hate not confined to distant lands but bubbling up where I lived; bigotry once hidden now gnashing its teeth without apology. As numbness faded, relief settled in as did a sense of justice. But I still didn't want to dance. Even the mother who watches the death row inmate die for killing her child does not grin and throw a ticker-tape parade. Yes, his death prevents future atrocities at his hands but his death does not erase what happened, what can never be undone, and the hate that remains like exposed wires.

The next day friends asked, are you okay? I didn't get it until I turned on the news and found the answer: He was found in Pakistan. They must have known. They' meaning the country and all its hundred million plus inhabitants. Pakistan is our worst enemy a pundit declared. I then understood my friends concerns. Blame Pakistan. Blame its people. Blame me.

Fifth Grade, the Gulf War began and I was bullied for the crime of sharing the same faith as Saddam Hussein. Those were cruel days and I still bear the scars but as an adult I can look back at those narrowed eyes and tell myself they were children, they didn't know better. But now? I see the same vitriol by people fully grown. Narrowed eyes taking in a billion plus people and seeing complicity in all. It's simpler to hate an entire group- blame an entire nation but the truth is not so simple, and to think otherwise is to dehumanize and is dangerous.

Did the Pakistani government know Bin Laden was there? I don't know. Did I? No. I'm a teacher. A lawyer. A writer. A mother. A wife. A sister. A daughter. I am sometimes moody. Often gullible. I love Mad Men. And Sunflowers. I am Muslim. I am not a terrorist and I am not going to explain or apologize for anyone's actions but my own and perhaps that of my child if he knocked over your drink. Sorry about that.

I planned to write a three beautiful things post about my son's first birthday but with fingers pointed at a country of millions who like me, are 99.9% blameless, I feel I have to say something however impotent these words may be. The happenings of the world matter and a man who caused too much pain to too many people and spit upon my faith is gone. This is a good thing; but my life is lived in the little corner of the world I inhabit and I try to inhabit it with integrity trying to be the best friend, sister, mother, wife, daughter I can be. I hope when you see me, that is what you see.

I've never wished a man dead, but I have read some obituaries with great pleasure- Mark Twain.

For more reading on this topic, please read the lovely posts of Faiqa and Baraka.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

You have this Keith Olbermann Clip (If have not seen it yet): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QZpT2Muxoo0

Anonymous said...

BTW Its me the biggest Olbermann fan you know :)..I know I should be studying :)

Faiqa said...

This was lovely. And no, you don't owe anyone an apology. Unless, of course, you want to apologize for being FANTASTIC, then go right ahead. XO

Aisha said...

Hey Mr. Future-Lawyer, thanks for the link! I remember this video. Good one to see again. Thanks for sharing it. [now get back to studying!!!!] ;)

Faiqa, thank you for your comment and your kind words :)

Anonymous said...

Sigh. It always seems we, as Pakistanis, need/seem to be apologizing for one thing or another. Great post, Aisha - a big AMEN.

Ash

kmina said...

Fools will always remain fools, Aisha. Have faith.

Leslie said...

I was thinking of you, too. Wondering if you were okay. Was going to message you but this post came right on time. I really hope people are not mistreating you and your family. Really good to write about this. (Very unrelated aside: I did not know you were a lawyer, too. You do so many things. :) )

sunehra said...

My roommate (white, I'm Bangladeshi & Muslim) and I were discussing the various ways, 'Americans' were 'celebrating' his death. I'm glad they got him, but going out to a bar and getting wasted seems ridiculous and just the kind of ignorant thing that us 'Americans' are known to do.

Clare said...

Eloquent post. Agree with every word. And what your write is powerful and is important. So please keep writing. xx

E said...

I assumed the Pakistani's didn't know he was there. Shit, his "regime" probably didn't know he was holed up in a nice mansion, lol. They probably thought he was in a cave somewhere, suffering.

I don't have TV so I didn't know about his death until the next morning when I read the news on teh internet. My mother came over later and I asked her to tell me what happened and then I told her that I didn't see the need for celebration as he was just one man, one terrorist, and there will be plenty to take his place.

People are just ignorant. Simple as that. They don't like anything that isn't "Just Like Them." We have so many of Them around here. I hate it.

Anonymous said...

As a Pakistani, I am concerned about the consequences that Pakistan can potentially face. All that is done, be it right or wrong is done and cannot be undone... and I mean, who knows...
And there is absolutely no need of being apologetic- we are individuals before anything else!
Cheers,
A.

mystic said...

You said my feelings.....

mezba said...

Michael Moore 's recent tweets on OBL are probably the best comments I have heard.

Today BBC has more on what Pakistan government knew (or didn't know).

C said...

Aisha, I hate it when people label the whole of Pakistan. Yes, Pakistan's leadership and a few radicals (WHO ARE EVERYWHERE, IN EVERY COUNTRY)need to give a few answers. But Pakistan as a country? I am an Indian but I have several Pakistani friends and they are just like me...struggling with everyday existence. I just wish people would understand that underneath it all, we are all just human beings...

Aisha said...

I've been out of internet all day, just got back, thanks everyone for your thoughtful and insightful comments. I LOVE the diversity of people here, and how despite how many things we may have that are different, we all recognize one another's humanity. This is why I love you guys. Silly as it sounds, its true. Thanks so much.

Post a Comment

I love to hear from you!