Social media has been splashed with well-meaning, and some not-so-well-meaning stories of average Muslims decrying the acts of the Islamic extremists from the Paris attacks last Friday. It seems that twice, in one year, terrorism has been brought to the City of Lights by people who say they are speaking for Allah. Of course, they are not, but throughout history, many people have murdered in the name of their Lords, why would we expect this one to be any different, right? Right? Wrong. There is something extrinsic that tells us we must now promenade each and every Muslim out and ask them to either explain why their religion is not solely based on hate or apologize for the actions of people for whom they had zero dealings or knowledge, save only to know what you and I know; those groups do exist, and they are likely up to some no-good nonsense even now.
But I see people, mostly white, posting memes, articles, and videos showing how the average Muslim thinks terrorism is a bad thing.
Well, fucking, duh.
Listen, I get why they are posting it, and I fully understand why they are asking for the explanations. Peole who belong to groups often feel responsibility for the other people in that group. When something heinous happens, we as a collective and amongst each other begin to question, “What is it that we could have done? What is it about us as a group that tells this one person or group of people that this behavior is acceptable?” We delve into our shared history, art, and music. We look at cultural aspects that overlap. We observe the things that bind us as a universal family. We examine and connect dots. And finally, when we can see all of the places we may have left anyone morally threadbare through the whole of our society, we apologize. We explain that we can see from the majority’s point of view why this action was wrong, we feel bad inside for this awful example that this makes of our group, and we heartily promise that we, ourselves, are obviously not like this splinter group. We do this because we feel our humanity with this entire group as a brotherhood. We will have this fraternity held against us, time and time again.
But it has clearly come the time that the excuses and defenses stop. While I will still investigate all of the ways to make my brothers and sisters the best possible people, and try to bring them up along side me in any meteoric or incrimental rise, I will no longer answer the condescension of questioning with anything other than derision. The majority is not my parent. I do not owe it any attempt of explanation or apology. I am not responsible for the cancerous parts of my own demographics. I learned this release of culpability from the majority and the powerful. When one of them goes astray, in a one-off loaner, or an entire cluster, they make no excuse and feel no guilt. Perhaps, they do not feel this familial bond with their peers, but I find this unlikely, because too many of the systems that are in place benefit too many of them at the expense of the rest of us. So they must, at the very least, feel something towards each other. They blithely move through life believing when something terrible happens under their heading, it honestly, had nothing to do with them therefore there was nothing they could do to stop it. They comfort in the idea. They stretch out in it. Kick up their fit. Put their hands behind their necks and take a loud inhale and … exhale. “Wasn’t me.” I could, only until recently, imagine what that exhalation of responsibility must free like, but now that I have it, I will not walk away easily. Nor will I ask others to take on its ponderous weight. Carrying every single person in your group on your shoulders, suddenly breathed out and released to know and truly understand that they do not belong to you. This was someone else’s failure, or ours as an entire human society. How we together are failing, majority and minority, but with a keener eye for who holds the real power.
I am no longer in the game of apologizing for entire marginalized groups while they are being marginalized. And I am certainly not going to ask anyone else to do so.
Either everyone learns to apologize, or just thee act doers of evil and the people who protect them. The innocent will no longer be judged by the acts of the guilty, and they will not be expected to apologize for them either.