Xenophobia and The Boston Bombings


The Boston marathon bombings – I didn’t think I would be writing about this, but here I am. Like most of you, I’ve been watching way too much TV, reading too many articles on the internet, and when torn away from those, listening to the radio in my car. Like most of you, I’ve had a lot of feelings the past few days on many different angles of this tragedy.

Tonight, the second suspect has been captured and it’s “over” … and yet it isn’t. I hear my fellow Americans chanting, “USA! USA! USA!” … and it seems somehow inappropriate. I understand relief. I understand pride in our first responders. I understand feeling some sense of justice or closure – but the all-out celebration, taking to the streets like revelers on New Year’s Eve? I can’t connect with it.

Those who died, are still dead; those who are mourning, are still mourning; those who are injured, are still injured. Those innocent people who were mistakenly caught up in the investigation, are still dealing with the resulting emotional damage. The young suspect in custody, if he survives, will face a long trial, all of which we will once again watch as if it’s some sort of sick reality show/telenovela hybrid.

After everything is said and done, we are left with scars – and some of those scars were inflicted on our society by the media, by irresponsible journalists. The use of racial profiling and the xenophobic language exhibited by journalists of networks I once respected, has disgusted me. It’s as if the journalists salivated at the idea that the suspects might be Muslim, as if that explains everything, when that fact alone explains nothing. That is why I’m writing this – It’s why I created a video – because at first, I couldn’t find words.

Maybe you’re not Muslim – most people who read my blog are not. Maybe you’re saying, “What does this have to do with me?” – Believe me, it has everything to do with all of us. The sentiments stirred up by the media, intentionally or unintentionally, are not only anti-Muslim, they are anti-“foreigner”, anti-brown person, anti-accent, anti-bilingualism, anti-immigrant. They are sentiments that divide and quite frankly, we’re better than this as a people, as a nation, and we deserve better than this from our news agencies.

If you agree with me, please consider sharing this video far and wide.


  1. Clip from LEDE

    As my colleague Donald McNeil noted in 1998, however, in Russia, the word Caucasian has a nearly opposite meaning to the American usage as a racial category. In Russia, he explained, “the most discriminated-against groups are residents of the Caucasus — Chechnyans, Azerbaijanis, Georgians and so on. There, unlike elsewhere, Caucasians are relatively dark skinned — and to Russians inclined to be derogatory, this makes them “chorniye” or “black.”

    Three years ago, my colleague Michael Schwirtz reported, after suicide attacks in the Moscow subway system, dark-haired people from the North Caucuses suffered from racial profiling in the Russian capital.

    Though Russian citizens, Chechens and others from the North Caucasus are often seen as foreigners in Russia, especially here in the capital, and are frequently associated with immigrants from the countries of Central Asia that were former Soviet republics. More than 1,000 miles from Moscow, Chechnya has its own language, religion and customs, as well as a history of violent separatism that many in the rest of the country find alien in the best of times and threatening in the worst.

    There have already been several reports of revenge attacks against people from the Caucasus in the wake of the bombings. Last week a brawl broke out on a subway train when a group of passengers insisted on inspecting the bags of several people who appeared to be from the Caucasus, according to the Sova Center, an organization that tracks xenophobic violence.

    Mi Madre una vez me dijo:

    El hombre o Mujer son los animales mas cercano al SER HUMANO.

    Long , long ways to get close be a human beings

  2. I didn’t see any “dark skinned” people in this video. And how can you tell a person is Muslim just by looking at them? I know Muslims who look like Natalie Portman.

    Just today, the press were interviewing a guy whose apartment was searched and was getting agitated with the barrage of questions. The thing is, he’s Middle Eastern and the two brothers are from Dagestan. *Not the same*

  3. i do agree with you…. its something that americans do not understand….and still do not grasp…. when the incident that happend in CT was over and done with… i don’t think people chanted…USA…USA…USA… or the Colorado incident as well…. and those where in home terrorism or how ever people wanna label it. But the way the media has handled the boston situation …. its everything that you’ve said. Not all immigrants are crazy….just because you have an accent…. does not mean you think with one….. just because am brown …does not mean i don’t have the same rights as you….and just because am bilingual … does not mean am talking about you!

    Not to be offensive …. but…. the USA needs to step itself up in education .. in every aspect of the word ….. It needs to understand….that …in other countries…. being bilingual…or multi-lingual .. makes you more attractive…. to where you want to be in life…. more cultural … my home state is alaska ….. and when i first moved here… my first couple of years….and once in a while ….i still get asked….. do people up there live in igloos….do you mush dogs… is alaska a country (its the 49th state and alaskans call the continental usa -lower 48’s) ….. i am shocked….by the ignorance… if i can put it like that… of people here…..don’t they teach you history in school…and learn a bit about every state?

    that’s the same problem about world history… to know more about it… u must take classes once in college or take trips once finished with high school to learn about the world and different cultures …..

    Not so much in other parts of the world!

  4. You can’t connect because you are not a real American. Don’t blame the media, they did their job. The police did their job, these two were killers.. they did not care about any one else life. I did not finish reading your article, because I got real piss. We have the right to say USA, USA…and be happy that they were capture.

  5. Granted, I haven’t followed everything closely but it seems to me this is a case of two disturbed people, not a political or a religious act. Really, the brothers’ background is a bit irrelevant at this point… who cares where they were from, who they were praying to, etc.!

    It’s not about USA vs. the world. It’s about people vs. two men who killed and spread terror. Ethnicity and all is completely irrelevant. No one “won” here. The police, FBI, whatever did its job and while I am sure everyone is relieved that those guilty were captured (and one killed…) there isn’t much to rejoice about. This is just sad.

    Oh, and Tracy… I learned today you were no American apparently, so welcome to Canada if you want :lol: (comment above)

  6. Terrorism is designed to cause fear. There are powers that benefit from people’s blind terror and they will capitalize on this. You video shows how groups are already using this to promote their own unrelated agenda. Just like after 9/11 when the government built a wall to keep out illegals along the Mexico/US border when the terrorist had entered LEGALLY through CANADA.

    We cannot let fear and hatred win. The only way to triumph in this situation is from love and compassion.

  7. I completely agree with this. I wrote about the necessity of responsibly journalism during times of crises, as well, and you’re absolutely right. This stuff impacts all of us who consume it on a very real, and a very deep level. Our world views are shaped by journalists who, during this very unfortunate and scary time, have exhibited such a limited scope that it’s sickening. It’s high time for news agencies to diversify – not just on screen, but behind it. We need more writers, more producers, more directors, more cameramen/women who have had a lived experience beyond a Europeanized one. Because it’s through these decisions that we shape our views about our fellow Americans and fellow global citizens.


  8. Tracy, I felt sick to my stomach when I saw the mob of people celebrating in the street last night. Keep in mind that this happened in my “backyard.” I don’t condone it and wish residents had taken the time to reflect on the casualties and consequences resulting from them. It was inappropriate and in poor taste. With every newscast I saw and story I read, it became obvious that many in the media more than expected, but wanted the perpetrators of the bombings to be foreign.

  9. I was amazed to read that you thought the “revelry” last night in Watertown was excessive! Consider that the neighborhood was locked down and a boy with explosives and guns was hiding there — it would be reasonable to think that this kid, in his desperation, could blow himself up along with the entire area. Suddenly, he’s captured and you have your life back! Under these conditions I think their reactions were quite restrained.
    The supposition that Muslims were behind this atrocious attack was logical and turned out to be true. Given the history of Muslim attacks (even before 9/11) on the USA and the Chechen history of violence, the lame-stream media, for once, got it right!

  10. at the end of the day those brothers do have dark skin and they are foreigners. thats NOT being anti-anything. those are facts.

  11. Thank you for posting this. Thank you thank you thank you. It did turn out to be people of color and people who purportedly practiced Islam, but before there were ANY facts the media had decided what it was and had broadcast pictures and photos and names of random unrelated innocent people, and airlines were kicking off innocent people off planes, etc before anyone knew anything. I was watching a DVR’d Daily Show and they were showing deaths related to terrorism in the US since 1970 and gun related deaths since 1980 and it was a few thousand versus almost ONE MILLION. A few thousand is a few thousand too many but at the same time, if we’re concerned about preventing death why aren’t journalists rabid at the mouth to get to the thing that has killed an exponentially larger group of people in our country?

    Yes, there are attacks by people who say they are Muslim, and there are attacks by people who say they are Christian, people are evi—l and evil has no religion or color or gender. This is the issue— that by looking at these two we extrapolate to the billion + people in the world living peacefully– and the media does NOT portray gun owners as crazy-nut-jobs despite death by guns, but they do jump the gun [pardon the pun] based on color or religion. It’s a racist slant, is what it ultimately boils down to.

  12. Mass media have globalized human understanding, imposing their narrow (limited, bounded, convenient and ethnocentric) points of view as TRUTH and thus “constructed reality” through a collective social imaginary, as Cornelius Castoriadis explains. No one denies the suffering caused in Boston bombarding (nor any other violent act).
    But being able to imagine and therefore construct a wider point of view, detecting how media reinforce xenophobia is not only a courageous act, it´s a revelation. A way of expanding human consciousness, a way to transform society… a more humane and loving society… I have a dream too…
    We are all able to contribute to this dream. Developing a critical thinking about media is certainly on the right path.
    I deeply appreciate this post, because I understand it is a contribution in the path of creating a better world, where diversity will not anymore be a synonymous of danger. It would be a signal of health and hope.

    Cornelius Castoriadis: http://www.iep.utm.edu/castoria/

    Definition and Examples of ethnocentrism in history and pop (mediatic) culture: http://examples.yourdictionary.com/examples-of-ethnocentrism.html

    Love, Fernanda

  13. Fantastic article! Thank you for putting it all through pen!

    Since the incident has happened, I have understood that people are standing against the race and not against the terrorism. HAHA that’s our so called DEVELOPED country ironically!

    Many of us have felt similar way as you felt! When someone says: “You’ve an accent.” that moment they are committing crime of racism, we all know that. When a large number of group of people celebrates on someone’s death. That itself means there is something deeply wrong with the group of citizens :-( anyways, only humanitarians can understand this! By being said this, I don’t intend to stand for terrorist. Their act has to be condemn in any case.

  14. This is many reasons why I DON’T watch mainline news. It’s their job to keep people divided on issues, instead of uniting. It’s sick!

  15. Thank you for the video, I have shared it on my post “Boston Bombing, US Media and its Anti-Foreigners Attitude” (http://www.theworldreporter.com/2013/05/boston-bombing-medias-anti-foreigners-attitude.html)

    America was formed with the basic principle of welcoming all the bright minds from all around the world. A large population of America is of immigrants and a large part of American economy is run by the immigrants. Such behaviour by the media will create a line between foreigners and native.

    Just to prove that Americans cannot do this and that it has to be an outsiders job, American media stripped the two brothers’ American past and present and associated them with the freedom struggle in the far away land of Chechnya, where they never ever lived. Why would two Chechens go and attack America? Their struggle is with Russia. Just because they were Caucasians, they became Chechens automatically.

  16. Just my opinion on a few points. I think the taking to the streets and chanting afterward was more of a venting of collective emotion. The city of Bostson was under attack, got shut down and after the stress of that, the capture of one and the death of the other known terrorists, it was spontaneous voice of love of country, a more of a “you can’t beat us!” expression. The media is totally messed up, they all would rather be first than right. MSNBC had no fewer than 5 individuals explaining why it had to be a right wing tea party, type (in their language that means white) to do this and here was Rachel Maddow explaining why it wasn’t so far fetched after all and she went on to list the many white, extremists, like ted kazinski, the atlanta bomber, the abortion clinic bomber…Quite conveniently leaving out Bill ayers, the weather underground, the FALN, etcetera. Push a political agenda before the truth on MSNBC and CNN falling all over itself to get information that just wasn’t there. (look up John Stewart’s panning of CNN coverage of the Boston bombings.)
    The City of Boston was under attack on April 15th, the seige ended a few days later and a tense city exhaled. I don’t think you should read too much in to that. The Media just sucks and I think it unfare to attribute the medias need to stir up the masses for ratings sake as a representing the views of our people(americans). Just because the media portrays it, doesn’t mean thats what we as a people believe. I think you should give our fellow americans some credit. We’ve grown up in the years since 9/11/01 and are, in my opinion, less apt to be Xenophobes . . Thank you for allowing me to share my opinion.

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