I met Mr. Haroon Khan today, but I wish under better circumstances.
I was beginning a walk with my 21-month old, her brother andd sister and our dog this afternoon when I spotted our neighbors, the Siddikis, in their driveway. Amir and Aysha are two of the nicest neighbors one could after ask for (the entire neighborhood is great, too). Their three kids are absolutely precious.
Anyway, I went over to say hello and noticed they seemed very somber, almost distracted -- quite unlike the usual greeting which is always accompanied with smiles. I asked what was up and Amir told me they had just returned from the funeral of Haroon Khan.
Oh my. I was at a loss for words. What could I say other than I was sorry?
I knew that Mr. Khan, the son of a physician and a UWM student as I had been, had been murdered by a young man from Watertown, apparently as the end act in the theft of Khan's car. I had seen the news on TV and had been shocked. I suppose I should have known that the local Muslim community isn't that large and it was likely that the Siddickis would have know the Khan family.
It was obvious they were both still in shock and deeply affected by Mr. Khan's death. Amir asked if I knew anything about the incident. I replied only what I had seen on television. Amir told me that Khan's murder was a brutal affair. Amir said Khan begged for his life. Khan apparently said he had a family and promised not to say anything about the theft. However, the young man had already determined that this theft would end in murder it was later determined. Khan was stabbed, Amir told me, 25 times and his throat was cut. His body was then dumped into a shallow hole.
As Amir told me this he shook and nearly broke into tears. He couldn't believe this had happened for a car. Why, he asked. It made no sense.
I don't know the young man who so viciously took Khan's life, but I can tell you why I think some of the brutality went beyond simple burglary. I think that a desensitizing effect has come over much of American society as a result of 9-11. I blame those who claim to be right-wingers, conservatives, Republican and many so-called Christians. That includes not only those who have been the most forward about spreading vicious lies and slanders about Muslims, helping to whip ignorant Americans into a fever-pitch frenzy toward anyone who looks or sounds different -- Muslim. I blame those, too, on the right who have not said anything. Those who have remained quiet but could have spoken out.
Being Muslim has become the new four-letter word and anti-Muslim hysteria has been fanned throughout the nation. Even though no other candidate uses his or her middle name formally, the right thinks it somehow funny to use the given middle name of Barack Obama, not out of any sign of respect, but as a crude tie to Saddam Hussein. Muslims are routinely called ragheads and terrorists. Their religion is slandered and their people targeted with hate mail.
Even today I was told by a local small businessman that he wasn't voting for that A-rab Hussein Obama. And then he said, when I mentioned I would be voting for him that he heard A-rab News had said they'd soon have a way in to the United States through the White House.
Yes, A-rab News.
I do know this -- I feel incredibly sorry for my wonderful neighbors. They have adopted this country as their own, their home. They are the best neighbors anyone could ever ask for. And I saw them today in such pain and sorrow. It's not right.
My condolences to the Khan family. I am so sorry for your loss.
Update: You can't go to McCain/Palin rallies now without hearing the hate-driven people who have been whipped to a frenzy and a blind rage. These same resentlul people are yelling that Obama is a terrorist, a Muslim, (as though that would be wrong) a socialist and that his supporters are commuists. And, of course, the racist crap is just starting to appear publicly along with threats to his life (which Palin enables).
According to Glenn Greenwald, there is a billboard (at least one) of Obama wearing a turban and even the little kids are being twisted by the lizards on the right. A neighbor kid suggested I take down our Obama sign because he wants to kill children.
There is nothing at Obama rallies that approaches the invective being delivered at McCain/Palin rallies. The right should be ashamed.
UPDATED AGAIN: Friday at a McCain rally in Minnesota a woman said, "I don't trust Obama. I have read about him. He's an Arab."
Yep, no one unhinged here.
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