Openish Thread: How Do You Feel about Would-Be Bomber Faisal Shahzad?

May 10, 2010

Photo from Orkut.

This post will be a place to share thoughts, feelings, ideas, and fears. We're not the slightest bit interested in anti-immigrant rants, racist-tinged political exegesis, or any sort of grandstanding. These, off-topic comments, and any comments with cursing, personal attacks, straw men, or excessive anger/passion/angstiness will be deleted without ever having been posted. Thank you for keeping this thread productive and useful.

In the wake of May 1st's attempted terrorist car bombing on Times Square by a Pakistani American naturalized citizen, there has been more spinning and opining and expressiveness in the media -- and in the government -- than substantive news. Some of the more frightening threads we've been following include:

Regardless of what the legal and legislative fallout of this incident will be, many Asian Americans -- particularly those of South Asian descent who are, or could be mistaken for, Pakistani American -- had been reciting the "Post-Crisis Minority Mantra": "Please don't let it be a Muslim or Pakistani dude. Please don't let it be a Muslim or Pakistani dude." Their response since confirmation of their worst fears can be seen in such articles as this opinion piece from The Times of India on what "hell" it is to be Pakistani abroad right now,  this article on a Pak Am's claim that other Pak Ams are pretending to be Indian, this piece, and this Huffington Post piece.

The intelligent, liberal American viewpoint can be seen in Jesse Washington's AP piece, which asks some hard questions about middle class terrorists and American viewpoints. (I won't link to more ignorant viewpoints. They're easy enough to find.)

So, what do you all think about all of this? What were your emotions upon hearing of the attempted bombing last week? Are you angry? Sad? Fearful? Depressed? Or do you not care? What do you think your fellow, non-Asian, Americans are thinking about this right now? What are your worst fears here? What's the best case scenario? What do you advise President Obama to do? What are you afraid he'll do? What do you think will really happen?

Please be honest, but please stick to your own feelings, ideas, and experiences. Please don't generalize about or stereotype others.




This is a far more complicated global crisis than most media outlets give credit; but as Americans, I hope that we can stand with all those that seek peace, and not associate terrorism with any race/ethnic group. As the Hutaree group incident from last month shows, home-grown terrorism can be from any race, and of any creed.

We can strengthen our borders all we want, but if all it takes is for one disenfranchised American to cause this much uproar, we need a more systematic way of rooting out the cause of this hate. This Reuters article provides a sustainable perspective on how we can view terrorism of any kind, and to do our best to ensure we are not made victims of fear and terror.

More on the Hutaree incident with Shahzad in the backdrop.

Xander: while I applaud your sentiment, I'm looking for more personal comments in this thread. The question at hand is "How do YOU feel about Shahzad?"

Everyone: please stick to sharing your personal experience of this incident and the fallout from it. If I start getting a lot of comments dealing abstractly with related issues, I'm going to start deleting.

Thanks for understanding!

i feel implicated.  despite being neither middle-eastern nor south asian in this post-9/11 profile-fest, Shahzad makes me feel visible and vulnerable in that internment kind of way.  after all, he's taken out a whole body of arguments AsAms have long relied on, about loyalty and citizenship, upbringing and love for adoptive country.  i was fond of that body of arguments; it helped me explain how it's racist to consider me any more likely a traitor than the white person next door.  now what do i say?

so do i (feel implicated.) funny, that. I didn't feel at all implicated with the Virginia Tech shooter. Among American-borns, there's so much variety in my mind. That's what Hyphen magazine is all about. but among immigrants and foreign-borns, i really feel like I'm put in a box with them, even though I'm not really anymore -- with my American accent and my American manners, and my American opinions, and my American family. there was a time when i was considered an immigrant or a foreigner, and I can never quite shuck the feeling that I still am viewed that way.

It's hard for me not to hate Shahzad for setting us all back again. the stories I've heard from south Asian friends ... well, I just don't want to see that crap happening again.

It's only been a week, and already Asian Americans are disowning the would-be terrorist.

Hmm.  Well, I gotta say - this blurb did prompt me to click through and read the post, one of the first I've read on the blog (which looks cool by the way).

But how do I feel?  I feel like anyone who wants to "own" the ... ("freedom fighter", would it be?) - would-be terrorist is in all likelihood not too much of an American.  

Sure, Shahzad is a fellow American citizen, and ok, so maybe therefore he is ours - all of ours - but something about trying to set off a car bomb in Times Square really turns me off.  And, y'know - it didn't take me a week or even a day to feel that way.

Hey - you want to criticize US foreign policy - knock yourself out.  Vote.  Protest.  Sacrifice an animal, if that's your thing.  Burn a US flag.  Move to another country.  Set yourself on fire, conduct a hunger strike, think critical thoughts, say critical things.

Go to Pakistan, get trained - fight in Afghanistan if you want.  But set off a bomb in Times Square?  Guess what - "brother":  I disown you.