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The Phantom Menace

This man is not Muslim. No, really. (Photo/Wikipedia)

Another senseless killing in America.

Another sociopath breaks into a public space – a Sikh temple this time – and begins shooting everything that crosses his path.

The end credits of the latest Batman movie are still rolling in Aurora when we are forced to move our attention elsewhere, to another massacre. We are horrified by it, obviously, but not as horrified as we were a few weeks ago.

The more frequent these attacks, the more we get used to them, the more we become resigned to accepting them as a part of everyday life.

And yet, here we are again.

There goes Obama, one more time, as he offers comfort to the victims, who will hopefully find solace in the shadow of the president, as the two contenders in a decades-old culture war, conservatives and liberals, accuse each other of being directly responsible for every bullet fired. One side insists that gun controls could have avoided this. The other side says the opposite, arguing that had the victims been carrying a firearm at the time of the attack, the killer would have been offed before he could kill victim number three.

Smart solution to the problem, isn’t it? Having everyone carry a weapon.

This point here is not to discuss once more the practicality of the Second Amendment nor debate about America’s unhealthy obsession with firearms. We have been subjected to that ad nauseam in the past few weeks despite it resulting in nothing but useless outrage. In an election year, no president would ever dare to meddle with a US citizen’s God-given right to enter their local Starbucks with the kids, the family dog and a Glock strapped to their waists.

Nope. The real focus should lie elsewhere.

So far, we’ve been appraised on the situation by the federal authorities. A 40-year-old man, Wade Michael Page had ties to the neo-Nazi movement and chose to write distasteful songs about how life had allegedly been degraded by tyranny.

One of those white supremacists who foam at the mouth whenever they run into a neighbor whose facial features are not Aryan enough, Wade decided to enter a Sikh temple and go on a killing spree because he didn’t like those who dressed funny and practiced a different religion.

Just another nut job.

Case closed.

But not really. The real focus should be a looming threat that the mainstream media is barely interested in covering so far.

There’s an underlying suspicion that this nut job’s misdeeds, unlike Aurora’s self-proclaimed Joker, were motivated by hate. And in his endless ignorance, broke into a temple and channeled his trigger-happy anxiety thinking he was unleashing a rain of bullets on the Muslim community.

And this should be cause for alarm.

Since 9/11, the relationship between the US and the Muslim community is not ideal.

Not only many have to deal with the lurking spirit of Osama Bin Laden, still dwelling in the people’s collective subconscious despite his demise, they must also coexist with a significant percentage of the population that believe that Muslim equals Arab, and Arab equals terrorist.

And this ignorance is only exacerbated by certain government representatives that warn

By July 2012, a 35% of Republicans still believe Barack Obama is Muslim. No, I’m not kidding.

of a secret stratagem designed by a shadow elite, looking for a widespread implementation of sharia law in the United States, reverends that celebrate the hurling of a copy of Koran into a bonfire and a president that is still considered by many to be Muslim (even if he were, why would that be a problem?).

No. America’s relation with the Muslim community is not ideal at all.

Since al-Qaeda’s attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the it has become one of the last demographics that a person can openly vilify and execrate without the fear of being labeled politically incorrect.

The bellwether of conservative media, the Fox News Channel, continuously feeds the jumpiness of the paranoid WASPs by presenting segments that cast the shadow of a doubt over the Muslim-American community. Those doubts eventually become fear, and before you know it Wade Michael Page decides to take matters into his own hands and picks up his gun.

Terrifying: since 2000, hate groups in the US have almost doubled, going from 602 to 1018 in 2011. (Source: Southern Poverty Law Center).

The Southern Poverty Law Center has warned that hate groups in the US have doubled in the last decade mainly as a product of conspiracy theories, the imminent change of racial identity in the country and lately due to the possibility of having four more years of a president that they consider to be an enemy.

This, besides a sporadic feature in some current affairs magazine, doesn’t seem to matter much.

The fact that since 2001 more cases of domestic terrorism have been perpetrated by right-wing extremists (8) than by jihadists (4) also seems to be irrelevant.

Because the looming threat of a foreign enemy is much easier to sell to viewers than that of a domestic foe, whose fear-mongering tactics are many times legitimized by the media, product of that natural stubbornness, that wrong belief posing that every argument presented on television deserves a counterargument in order to provide a “balanced” discussion.

It’s that same irresponsibility that prompts the media to grant a full minute of live television to a man of dubious credentials and his controversial conspiracy theories revolving around Barack Obama’s true religion.

As the media obtusely focuses on whether Islam is a religion of peace or pure malevolence, active armed militias are multiplying throughout the US, albeit flying low to escape the population’s radar.

Islamic extremism is the wrong threat. And hate crimes are the symptom, not the disease.

In the meantime, six more people are dead for being at the wrong place at the wrong time, and for looking the wrong way.

For Spanish version, click here.

Send Adrian your comments, thoughts or tips at or follow him on Twitter at @AdrianBono

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