Brian Rokus on CNN.com has published an article on his news site that is spotlighting a part of an upcoming series entitled "God's Warriors". The expose will be hosted by Christiane Amanpour.
In this article (my apologies to CNN.com for linking their site), Mr. Rokus mentions Rehan Seyam, a Muslim who wore a traditional hijab (head scarf) to Wal-Mart while she did some badly needed shopping. It was the holiday season, and I'm guessing the store was quite crowded.
As stated by Mr. Rokus, Ms. Seyam reported that a man in the store singled her out and loudly sang the "12 days of Christmas" to her face, changing the lyrics to include taunts, insults, and references to Osama bin Laden.
According to Rokus, Ms. Seyam asked the gentleman "Do I look like a terrorist to you?" He is reported to have responded "What else does a terrorist look like?"
Excuse me, mr. wal-mart-shopper-who-knows-everything, but who is terrorizing whom here? Did Ms. Seyam come into the store and single you out and threaten you, or did you single her out and make her uncomfortable? Didn't you terrorize her? Was she a threat, or was this just an excuse for you to make a public display of your ignorance, prejudice, and hate?
What else does a terrorist look like? Oh, yes, that's right. Tim McVeigh and Terry Nichols put their turbans down, shaved their beards, and stayed away from the mosque, and that's why we missed them. Or has September 11, 2001 made you forget April 19th, 1995? Or is it because you are too uncomfortable to discuss the fact that homegrown terrorists are a threat to our way of life?
It is reported that there were 168 deaths and 800 injured on that day, including children. On September 11th, 2001, 19 terrorists, mostly Saudis, killed 2,794 people in New York, Washington D.C., and Pennsylvania. 24 others were never located and are presumed dead today. It is estimated that there were 16,000 people around the base of the World Trade Center when it collapsed, and it is difficult to estimate how many were truly "injured".
But for Oklahoma city, two men killed 168 people. This may not seem like so much on the surface but realize that Tim McVeigh killed 168 people (Terry Nichols involvement with the attack is still, despite his conviction, in dispute--he did not "pull the lever" so to speak). Compare this to September 11th, where one terrorist killed 147 people (which I will admit is using simple math to compare number of terrorists and number of deaths and doesn't take into account locations and individual involvement) but I'm not saying Oklahoma was worse, just that it was as bad as what happened in 2001.
I remember the weeks following April 19th, 1995. I remember the concrete barriers that sprang up overnight. I remember the fears people had of going to work if they worked in a government facility. I remember the press conferences. I remember people being afraid. I remember the terrorism.
And I don't remember Islamic extremism being a part of it at all.
So the next time you ask an innocent Islamic woman in Wal-Mart, Mr. Rude Shopper, "what else does a terrorist look like?" You need to take a long hard look into a mirror.