The Bitter Fruit: When Prejudice Begets Violence.
August 26, 2010 1 Comment
Today the New York Times features the story of Ahmed H. Sharif, the cabbie in NYC who was stabbed by Michael Enright after Mr. Sharif said he was Muslim. This article gives a profile of both men, as well as what happened in detail.
Enright is rightfully being charged with attempted murder, as a hate crime. That’s a first degree felony, with up to 25 years. It’s a chilling tale–cabbie picks up fare, the two chat, fare asks cabbie’s religion, then how his Ramadan is going, then starts to mock Islam and Ramadan. Suddenly Enright brandishes a knife, reaches through the divider, and stabs Sharif multiple times in the neck, face, and arm, then takes off.
I can already see where this is going to go from the article. It paints Ahmed Sharif as the good, integrated Muslim, making sure to mention how long he has been in the country, his family, and his position on the community center two blocks from Ground Zero (he’s against it, of course. They’re trying to paint him as a Good Muslim) in the whole paragraph they devote to his background.
It paints Enright as a good, all-American boy. Everyone is shocked, shocked that he would do something like this. They make sure to mention that he volunteers with Intersections International, that his senior film project led him to embed with a battalion of Marines in Afghanistan, and that, in court, he was dressed nicely, and he’s “terrified…shocked…just trying to cope with it.”
He’s terrified, huh? The guy who saw fit to stab a man, just because he’s Muslim, trying to kill him, then dashing away–he’s the terrified one?
They’re going to paint him as the Good-All-American-Boy who believing he was part of a holy war against Islam, just had to stab an innocent man just trying to make a living, because of his religious beliefs. He’s so scared, officer! I mean, he’s not a real soldier, but he saw all these terrible-horrible-no-good-very-bad things in Afghanistan! He had to do it!
Not buying it. I hope the judge and jury doesn’t, either. This is prejudice and hate at its worst. This is what fear-mongering and hate-based propaganda produces. This is what happens when political parties and hate-filled activists stir up controversy based on prejudice of an entire religion.
I’m so glad to hear that Mr. Sharif is alive. I’m sure his wife and four children are, too. I hope he recovers.
But the damage is done; to him, and to the Muslim community, in NYC and across America. Enright has done a lot more than just stab an innocent man. He’s threatened an entire group of people–sending them the message that they’re not safe in this country because of their religious beliefs. He’s told Muslims that they might get killed in America for believing in Islam. It doesn’t matter if you’re Sunni, Shiite, or secular.
And that’s what makes this crime all the more horrific. We’ve seen this coming. We’ve stood by and watched news outlets, politicians, activists, and our loved ones breed resentment, hate, and fear of Muslims in America. We’ve stood by and let this happen. Now we’re seeing the fruit of their hate. And it’s a bitter one.