So...Why Isn’t Andreas Lubitz Considered a Terrorist?

Iguess I’m just a glutton for punishment, because I knew the media coverage of  Germanwings flight 9525 co-pilot Andreas Lubitz would be markedly different from anything they’d ever report about a Muslim. But still, I watched. I watched them humanize him, discuss his interests in music and running. I watched them vet him, recount his extensive training. I watched them make excuses for him—because, you know, there is always the possibility that he passed out and somehow accidentally pushed the intricate combination of buttons and knobs that sent the plane into its fatal descent.

And, no, I’m not being facetious. I really did watch CNN reporters take turns throwing out ideas about how he could have accidentally locked the door and accidentally crashed the plane and accidentally killed 150 people. At one point, one reporter even said, “Ok, we’re really reaching here.” 

As I watched (and read), I waited for the “T” word to be dropped, but of course they didn’t. They can’t. Not yet anyway, There is no established connection to Islam. There was no Quran found in his locker, no last call to a friend named Muhammad, no donations to humanitarian causes in Syria. As it stands, he’s just a regular ole’ white non-Muslim. Therefore, his character and name deserve every protection.

After all, you can’t just question a man’s motives and suggest nefarious intentions in front of the whole world. That would be plain old insensitive and downright rude—unless he’s Muslim… or Black… or Muslim and Black. In that case, send that savage through the shredder!

Ok, maybe I’m being dramatic. Or maybe I’m just sick of seeing the humanity stripped from people who look and believe like me. Maybe I’m tired of the picket fence of white privilege that protects whites and impales people of color. Maybe I’m disgusted by the way the American people are indoctrinated into the belief that terrorism is bred from and lives within the hearts of Muslims, even though studies show Muslims are no more likely to commit acts of terror that any other group. 

But that’s a fact, and the mainstream media isn’t interested in those. Their goal is to sensationalize and protect the interests of their controllers. That’s why the first question they asked about Lubitz was about his religion. They wanted to know if they could use him to further degrade the image of Muslims. Unfortunately, he’s not a Muslim, so now they have to treat him with care. Darn!

As Juan Cole so eloquently points out, “We know why they asked [about his religion]. It was out of bigotry against Muslims, probing whether another one had gone postal. The subtext is that white Christians don’t go off the deep end, even though obviously they do, in large numbers.”

History clearly proves that Muslims are not the only people who have committed acts of terror. History clearly proves that Muslims aren’t even the main people who commit acts of terror. In fact, Muslims are often the victims of acts of terror. Just ask Abdisamad Sheikh-Hussein or Deah Barakat or Yusor and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha. Oh wait, you can’t. They were all killed for being Muslim. 

So when I see non-Muslim killers being called “mentally ill,” “depressed,” “emotionally unstable” or “troubled,” it’s so much more than semantics. It’s about affording certain people, and only those people, the right to depth and complexity. Everyone else, I guess, is just a two-dimensional approximation of human.  


Dalia Khalifa: Gaza’s ‘unbreakable’ girl

Nine-year old Dalia Khalifa was in the living room of her family home in the Zaytoun district of the besieged Gaza Strip when an Israeli strike hit their house during last summer’s Operation Protective Edge.
A photo of nine year old Dalia Khalifa by photographer Mohamad Asad was chosen by OCHA as the Grand Jury winner in a photography competition

دَاليا خَليفة : صاحبة التسعة أعوام, أصيبت في قصف إسرائيلي على منزلها خلال الحرب الأخيرة على قطاع غزة.