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From Times Square to Jacksonville:
When Terrorism Is a Double-Standard

| May 23, 2010

The Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, Islam's third-holiest spot, has had its share of attackers and would-be destroyers. (Wikimedia Commons)

As we all know, the first of this month a crude bomb almost went off in Times Square. It was an attempted terrorist attack by a less than competent 30-year-old finance professional, an American citizen of Pakistani origin who’d recently lost his Connecticut home to foreclosure and gone radical. The man was caught 56 hours after the bomb was discovered. The hurricane of media attention lasted about two weeks. The political consequences of the attack continue, with the usual other radicals in Congress and their amen rabble on Fox seizing on the plot to declare America under attack and constitutional guarantees of due process an even bigger threat to America than terrorism.

Amazing how easily one-off dimwits with bombs can scare off the country that likes to think of itself as the strongest on the planet. That’s what happens when the dimwits are Muslim and the targets are recognizably American. It’s a different story when tables are reversed and Muslims are the target.

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Few of you know that 10 days after the attempted terrorist attack in Times Square, an actual terrorist attack took place in Jacksonville when a firebomb exploded outside the city’s biggest mosque, the Islamic Center of Northeast Florida. Some 60 worshippers were praying inside when the bomb went off and started a fire. No one was injured. The bomber is still at large.

The Jacksonville Times-Union did an admirable job of covering the story and editorializing against whatever anti-Islamic motives are polluting Northeast Florida. But aside from the Times-Union and a few broadcast media in the city, that terrorist attack drew almost no attention from the national media and barely more than passing mention in state newspapers. The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks every hate crime in the country, has yet to take note of the Jacksonville attack. The FBI is on the case, but even the $5,000 reward it put up looks half-hearted compared to the $12,000 the New York City Police Department put up in the search for the Times Square bomber. The FBI didn’t put up the reward in Jacksonville until four days ago, and only when the mosque, a church and a national Islamic organization each put in $5,000 of their own.

Double standards are the collateral damage of that dumb war too many people continue to imagine as a “war on terror.” You can’t wage war on terror. Terror is a tactic. It’s nobody’s monopoly. On American soil, the terrorists—from the Oklahoma City bomber to the Fort Hood attacker to the Times Square bomber to, most likely, the Jacksonville bomber—are American. There’s convenience in creating a false sense of security by identifying Islam as the evil and Americans as the good guys. But it’s demonstrably not true.

Parvez Ahmed (UNF)

The Jacksonville attack didn’t happen in a vacuum. For several weeks in April and May a controversy was contrived out of the Jacksonville City Council’s nomination of Parvez Ahmed to the city’s Human Rights Commission. Ahmed is a Fulbright Scholar and a University of North Florida professor with decades of public service to his name, as well as a long history of condemning terrorism, starting with a September 14, 2001 letter in a Pennsylvania newspaper calling the 9/11 attacks “senseless” and any use of religious labels to describe terrorists “an affront.” But Ahmed is a Muslim. Turn on the sirens.

“ACT! for America” is a hate group founded by Lebanese Islamophobe Brigitte Gabriel, who sees a terrorist beneath every turban. It’s her way of selling books and making money. When her act gets cold, she scavenges a cause and cashes in on the publicity. She found one in Ahmed’s nomination. Her Jacksonville chapter launched a McCarthy-era-like attack on Ahmed, concocting slanderous allegations about him having ties to terrorist groups by connecting more dregs than dots. Stupidity loves company. ACT’s slanders found support on the Jacksonville city council, particularly City Councilman Don Redman, who shamed his city by demanding that Ahmed publicly “say a prayer to your God.” It’s only when the council began worrying that an image of intolerance might hurt business in Jacksonville that it approved the Ahmed nomination on a still-shameful 13-6 vote. One of those votes belonged to Glorious Johnson, who feared that Ahmed’s nomination was dividing the city and causing others to refer to it, in her words, as “this hick town.” Her vote was among the reasons why.

Less than two weeks later, Ahmed’s mosque was firebombed. If the message wasn’t directed exclusively at Ahmed, it certainly was at the region’s 15,000 Muslims. This wasn’t swastikas on a wall. It wasn’t insults cowardly spat out of a speeding car. It was a firebomb. It was an act of terror against Muslims in Jacksonville. It’s no different than if your local church or Times Square had been firebombed. But of course it’s been different. When the target happens to be Muslim, whether it’s Jacksonville or anywhere else in the world, the attack is beneath concern, because the last thing anyone wants to admit is that hate and terror have their American franchises in spades.

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10 Responses for From Times Square to Jacksonville:
When Terrorism Is a Double-Standard”

  1. Melvina Rushnock says:

    The world is full of fear, suspicion and hate born of fear. I am a Christian and try to look to Christ example as to how to love those with whom I disagree; bombs are not one of the ways. It is my hope and prayer that we can learn from history and not react in tandem with others who have panic attacks and act “inappropriately” to those with whom we disagree. You mention that the Times Union newspaper did do an honorable job of reporting the mosque situation and I’m truly happy to hear that as well, but other media opportunities were missed. Has anyone noticed besides myself how often we hear of a situation at an airport in Ohio, Kentucky, Texas etc., once but the resolution is never mentioned again. Are stories all over being “quieted” to keep the nation and people from bouncing off of each other?

  2. Jamie Abbott says:

    To sensationalise it is to give it power, The terror is the Liberty we have sacrificed to combat this Tactic.

  3. William says:

    From the first colonial settlements through today, a double standard has existed in our country. First it was the Native Americans, then the 3/5 persons of color, the Germans, the Japanese, you name the time period and there existed a bogeyman set apart from “polite society” as one of “them”. And it was easy to justify this behavior with the blinkered perception that one of “them” had done something to “us”, and because, “hell, they all look the same to me” has long been an acceptable explanation for bigotry and stupidity among the intellectually challenged. Presently it is the Muslim community that finds itself in the cross hairs of blinding hate and irrational fear, and the non or under reporting of hate crimes or terror attacks on Muslim targets is just fine with Bubba, shotgun in one hand, Pabst Blue Ribbon in the other.

    The problem that never seems to enter what little consciousness these individuals are endowed with, is what happens when circumstances make them, well, one of “them”. It has happened often enough (too often actually) that the possibility cannot be ruled out. They’ll have a fit, Limpbag will scream bloody murder, and Beck’s head will explode. And in the end, nothing will change.

    As long as people allow themselves to be blinded by fear and ignorance, sadly intolerance, duplicity, and irrationality will remain as American as Apple Pie. After all, it’s easy to hate when you can’t see the humanity in an individual whom you deem to be “different”.

  4. BW says:

    As the warning was said to America before, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

  5. Merrill Shapiro says:

    Read the awful things being said about Moslems and Islam and in our country and weep. Then take out the words “Moslem” and “Islam” and substitute the words “Black” and “Negro.” See if what you come up with doesn’t sound just like Jim Crow. Take out the words “Moslem” and “Islam” and substitute the words “Jew” and “Judaism” and see if it doesn’t sound like Germany in 1937.

    The language of hate has no place in our community, no place in our country. If we remain silent on these issues, we’ll get what we deserve and be the worse for it!

  6. Frank Burke says:

    Outstanding article.

  7. Santosh says:

    I do not completely agree with the direction/ or tone of the article. The whole article is written on the assumption that this is a “hate crime”, and it is one sided based on one person’s opinion. I felt that the article is provocative and nourishes animosity. Though media has not given the coverage to this tragic event, I am sure authorities are investigating and doing their best. There is no mention of what actions are taken by law enforcement.

    Author has tagged this tragic event as “hate crime”, though the author himself or herself is saying that the criminals are at large. This could be another terrorist attack. Why there are attacks on mosques in Pakistan? Read this recent news:

    Terrorists have no religion. If they were condemned by Mr. Parvez Ahmed then the terrorist, themselves, may have motive behind this attack. I am not trying to defend this attack. I do condemn this attack, no matter who has done it, but I would not call this as a “hate crime” until it is proven.

  8. Rick says:

    Americo-centrism and the double standard are alive and well in the U.S. Does no one see any echoes of the Birmingham church bombings of the 1960s? American “patriots” (also known as cowards) have always resorted to terrorist tacticts when they thought they could get away with it.

  9. Bob K says:

    …like that Bill Ayres guy. Did he really think he could get away with bombing police stations and the Pentagon???

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