Boston Bombing: Boston Bombing brings out Arab, Muslim failings

Boston Bombing brings out Arab, Muslim failings
By Ray Hanania
Saudi Gazette Sunday April 21, 2013

I’ve noticed a growing and disturbing trend from Arabs and Muslims following several acts of violence in America, including following the bombings in Boston, which took three lives and maimed or injured 138 more.

Arabs and Muslims were more concerned that Americans were uncaring or apathetic about Arab and Muslim children killed by Israel.

It also happened after American gunman James Eagan Holmes walked into a movie theater and shot and killed 13 people, and injured 38 others in Aurora, Colorado.

Arabs and Muslims frequently wonder why Americans express so much outrage at those incidents but are uncaring when victims are Arab or Muslims, including children, too.

The point is legitimate but the timing is inappropriate. We all should be angry about the violence, regardless of the race, religion or nationality of the victims.

I was overcome with grief reading the very detailed story about the 8-year-old boy, Martin Richard, who died in the Boston bombings. Only a year before, the boy participated in a school march to protest violence, carrying a sign that read “No more hurting people. Peace.”

Arabs and Muslims don’t get it. It doesn’t matter if they live in the Middle East or in the West. In most cases, Arabs and Muslims who live in the West are physically there but mentally are still living back home.

That means that they have no sense of what is or isn’t appropriate. They lack the experience to effectively communicate, and they don’t understand the true power of communications using compelling stories and strategic communications.

For the most part, Arabs and Muslims let their emotions dictate their reactions, which range from uncontrollable irrational anger to the desire for vengeance, more than justice.

Yes, little Palestinian children are being killed by Israeli soldiers and settlers. But yes, also, little Israeli children are being killed by Arabs and Muslims.  The problem is Arabs and Muslims get mad because they see how much more effective Americans and Israelis are at telling the story of their victims. Israelis are better skilled at telling their stories in compelling and human terms, while the Arab and Muslim activists are incompetent and unskilled. Their only real experience is in leadership through emotion.

In the Middle East, emotion seems to be the primary qualification for leadership. The more emotional you are and the louder your voice in a speech, the more you will be cheered. The speeches ramble and are annoying and too long. They are filled with so many messages that nothing stands out. Little is remembered.

An effective leader looks at the vast array of facts and stories and focuses on one that symbolizes the point they are trying to make. Arabs and Muslims, on the other hand, are never satisfied with the quantity of their tragedy and feel compelled to exaggerate the numbers to make things worse than they are.

There is a way to help Americans expand their sympathy. But you don’t do it by screaming at them when they are consumed with emotion over the Boston deaths. You do it strategically.

Instead of saying “You don’t care about us, you only care about yourself,” you express a sincere and genuine feeling of condolence. You tell them how much you are also sad for the death of the little boy, and you must mean it.

You stand with them and denounce the Boston Marathon killers, no matter who they are. You don’t try to explain away the violence if, by chance, the bombers were Arab or Muslim. You forcefully and unequivocally denounce the violence.

You then allow that sympathy to build into a relationship. When the timing is appropriate, you talk about how you are angered by all the violence in the world, and the killing of all the children and innocent civilians.

And when the American agrees, you slowly expand the argument, over time – maybe weeks or months – to explain to them that little children are being killed by the Israelis. That it is not about being anti-Israeli. It is about being anti-violence. It is not about being anti-Israeli or pro-Arab, but rather about being anti-extremist and anti-hate.

You draw the line of argument in a manner that you are both standing on the same side.

Then, you meticulously, carefully and steadily tell the story of each and every one of those acts of violence against Arabs and Muslims, not by overwhelming Americans with statistics and numbers, but by choosing one of the victims and presenting a complete portrait of that victim’s life as a human being.

You humanize the story. You let people know who that child really was. What was their dreams, goals in life, and their ambitions?

You talk about their families and their goodness. You take the generalization that is being thrown at Americans today and personalize it to make it a compelling story. You use common sense. And it can’t just be one Arab or one Muslim, either. It has to be by the entire society of Arabs and Muslims doing the same thing. The Arab and Muslim media must eliminate emotion, hatred and extremism, and instead embrace reason, principle and justice.

If we can’t show compassion to others, then we can never expect others to show compassion or ourselves.

If we can’t condemn the murder of an Israeli child, then we can never expect the world to condemn the killing of a Palestinian child, or an Arab or Muslim child.

It is commonsense. And I wish Arabs and Muslims had more of it.

— Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist. Reach him at or follow him on Twitter @RayHanania.

Categories: Middle East Topics

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