I know, the apologies for the lack of posting get tired real quick, so I won’t. Truthfully I have not been feeling the title of this blog and have been feeling far too profane to post.
I did have to come out of the woodwork because big things have been going down that I can’t NOT comment on.
So some guy in Ft. Hood went off his rocker and shot up a bunch of his fellow soldiers, and while the event is very tragic and sad I don’t get the luxury of participating in the boohoos because this guy happened to be Muslim with an Arabic name, and I have to make sure I scour every article I can come across so I don’t look like an ignorant dumbass when people ask me the inevitable, “So what do you think about what happened at Ft. Hood/Iraq/Afghanistan/Pakistan/Mumbai/9-11/Abu Ghurayb/The second coming of Christ?”
Also, I’ve been reading and silently (until now, at least) echoing the sentiments of everyone’s facebook status that sounds along the lines of “thanks, you big jerkball, for flying your freak flag and shooting everyone up, why oh why couldn’t you have been a nice bland Caucasian?”
I appreciate the emails I’ve been getting from the major Islamic organizations, the ones about press conferences with Congressman Keith Ellison and a token white senator so we can show mad love for the Anglo-Saxons as well * and unilateral denouncings of this heinous crime, the finely crafted articles. I’m glad everyone’s talking about it. I’m not going to bring out the tired, “Oh, why must we still do this, white people don’t have to defend their fellow whites when one of them goes looney tunes!” because we have to. We must, and there is no one else.
All irreverence aside, this is really saddening. Everyone is talking about how ironic it is that he was a psychiatrist, he was the one who was supposed to keep these broken soldiers together, yet he himself was broken. When you think about it, it’s not ironic at all. Usually it’s the people who are the glue that end up cracking. What must it have been like, to see these soldiers everyday, some on their 3rd or 4th tour, and trying to help them deal with all the horrific things they must’ve seen? While he himself was struggling? I’m not excusing what he did. But I understand feeling trapped. He didn’t like what he was seeing, and he wanted out–or at least spoke of wanting out with his aunt–even though the army records show no action taken on his part. According to her, he wanted out for years. And being confronted with his worst nightmare–actually being deployed to Afghanistan, after seeing all the broken men and women come back from there, in a war that seems like it’s never going to end. So he snapped. And everyone brings out the, “Oh, we never saw it coming,” and it’s true. Because you’re fine, until you’re not. Everyday you wake up when you really just want to forget the world exists, and you put on your face, the one you put on everyday to show people that you’re okay, and you play your part until you get home, and the mask drops. And it takes months, years, decades, but that mask starts to become suffocating, and you start to think this is it, this is the day when I’ll stop faking, and take a stand, and start being real…but it never comes. And the split between your authentic self and your fake self grows wider and wider, until it starts looking like a Venn Diagram, and that smallest sliver is the only thing holding yourself together. And when that goes…people react in different ways. An understatement, yes. Me, for example, I tend to bail on the world and hole up with Hulu re-runs and Supernatural fanfiction and any edible junk I can get my hands on.
Others react with shooting sprees. Everyone is a product of their environment and upbringing, and everyone is shaped by their experiences. To use the big words I’ve been learning in CAW-lege, it’s when we develop core pathologies instead of prime adaptive ego–oh, the bs, it’s too much, I can’t. Basically when we learn how to deal the right way, it’s good, and when we learn how to deal with bad with, uh, bad behaviors, it’s very, very bad. Basically.
I’ve been reading the background on this soldier, Major Nidal Malik Hasan, (Nidal means “struggle” in Arabic, by the way) and it’s eerie how small our world is. He used to attend the same mosque I went to in 4th grade, because my school was there, the same mosque where I used to collect honeysuckles with some of the other girls in my class from where they would grow by the chainlink fence, where we used to do experiments with electromagnetism (using my glasses as a conductor, once) and where Br. Omar, even though he didn’t need to, even though we totally believed his diagram of a bulb filament, still went outside, broke a 60 watt bulb on the railing outside our trailer, and brought it back inside so we could see for ourselves.
Major Hasan graduated from Virginia Tech, the site of another shooting rampage, now faded from memory, perpetrated by a boy who signed his name as a question mark.
Hearing about this incident caused me to dredge up memories of the DC sniper incident from a few years back. It was 2002. I still remember where I was, 4th period English class in 10th grade. Our school was on lockdown because of some shooting. We heard all kinds of crazy stuff. At first we thought he was in the school, then we thought near the campus, and then we found out later what really happened. I remember we were locked down through lunch so one of the ladies in the English department came by with a basket of Oreos. At first it was kinda exciting and scary, but then it got really boring. I still remember my teacher. I forget her name, but she used to be on a swim team and she was kinda pretty, and one day she parted her hair all weird and she was self-conscious because we were looking at her funny. She started patting her face and running her hand over her shirt self-consciously, but we never told her it was because of how she parted her hair that day. (I remember reading To Kill a Mockingbird in her class, and have her to thank because I understood every single Boo Radley reference I ever came across after that.)
When I got home and saw the news reports, and where the shooting took place, it was the same place my school bus would drive past, back when I still in middle school. Another shooting took place where my mom would go to work on-call, and another took place in the city where we’d get qurbani from.
I was reading through the wikipedia article, and my heart jumped in my throat, because one of the perpetrators, John Allen Muhammad, is going to be executed in 3 days, on November 10th, 2009. I’ve been scouring the articles, and maybe my memory is failing me, but I remember in the beginning, they weren’t calling him John Allen Muhammad, they were just calling him “John Allen.” (And then they were on about Lee Malvo, and I remember reading an article in the local paper–it might’ve even been my school newspaper, because I remember being at school while reading it, talking about interviewing some kid who was getting grief because people said he was the spitting image of Lee Malvo, and the metacommentary that says about us as a community and the blackification of crime in the US, etc etc. ) But I just remember feeling like…what? John Allen MUHAMMAD? WHAT? I felt so cheated, that I could share in the sorrow with everyone else, and then they just had to tack on “Muhammad” and suddenly it’s like what the hell man? These are YOUR people? And it didn’t even make sense, because one of the victims was a Desi guy, who technically I had much more in common with, but there was still that “this is all because of your crazy family” vibe.
And then, TODAY, another guy (white, this time) shot up downtown Orlando, because he lost his job and his employers “left him to rot.” Also, last night there was a goddamn helicopter circling my neighborhood, conducting an honest-to-god floodlight search. I felt like I was in some action adventure movie, what with the sound of the rotors and the searchlights that were streaming through the blinds.
What all this craziness made me realize, I suppose, is that there are a great many more things going down that are bigger than me and my so-called problems, and I just need to buck up and deal. I remember listening to this Nouman Ali Khan lecture, (and I am paraphrasing/extrapolating, like, a LOT) and he said there are two ways to remind two different types of Muslims. The first type of Muslim can look at the intricate webbing in a leaf and their eyes fill up with tears and their hearts shake from these tiny, tiny reminders, and these are the ones who can bring themselves closer to Allah with academia, with the minutae, with the details. The other type of Muslim is a bit more stubborn, they can appreciate these details as well, but it doesn’t make them ACT. It takes something BIG, something really freakin’ crucial, to get them to shake and quake and think, “Wow, I need to change. Like, yesterday.” He gave the example of one of those big emotional lectures, the kind where the speaker starts off with, “When I was a boy, I had a DOG!” and by the end of the speech you’re shaking where you sit and the speech has that visceral, emotional appeal, and when you leave you’re saying to yourself in your head, “I really need to start praying.” It may not appeal much to the minutia-oriented, but it’s that punch to the gut the stubborn Muslims need. I fall into the latter category. It takes really big, crucial SNAFUs to make me react, and man, the events of the past 48 hours qualify.
*as I was writing this I thought, “Crap, what if he’s not actually white? And it turns out he totally wasn’t. Nor is he a senator. Thus the strike-through. Also, I get FAIL in US Government 101.
I know this was long and rambly, and it is what it is.