These Islamophobic Chattanooga Tweets Prove Racism Is More Than Just Black & White


On Thursday morning, Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez opened fire at two military facilities in Chattanooga, Tennessee, killing four Marines and injuring three other individuals. The violence concluded with the death of the gunman, though the condition of his death remains unclear.

Abdulazeez is purported to be a Kuwaiti native and Muslim, which meant it didn't take long before Twitter was awash with anti-Islam tweets, full of accusations suggesting Islam is synonymous with terrorism. 

With ever more reports of racially motivated police brutality in the news — often involving black victims at the hands of white police officers — the dialogue surrounding the race debate in the United States has been somewhat monochromatic. High-profile instances of racism have recently involved white-on-black persecution, and the resulting discussion has shown the problem as much less nuanced and complicated than it actually is.

In these tweets, each of which was favorited and shared, misunderstanding and bigotry extend far beyond the black and white dichotomy that often seems to characterize race relations in the U.S.

There were some criticisms of President Barack Obama after the shooting, with some suggesting he was somehow responsible for fostering Islamic terrorism or that he was not disturbed by the deaths of American servicemen. Such sentiments embody more than just anti-Muslim attitudes, quantifying "the other" as a difference of both skin tone and religion.

The president also received criticism for functioning as a threat to white men in his alleged protection of Muslims. Popular conservative radio host Doc Thompson was one of many to accuse Obama of being sympathetic to terrorism committed by Muslims and racist in his condemnation of terrorism committed by white people — particularly Dylann Roof, the man who killed nine black people at a historically black church in Charleston, South Carolina, in June.

Still other responses to the Chattanooga shooting involve a defense of gun laws, arguing that attempts to curtail the right of Americans to own guns would pose a national threat given the ability of terrorist-prone Muslims to own weapons.

Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump lead the charge in the argument that a lack of guns makes Americans less safe in incidents like Thursday's shooting. 

This bigotry in the aftermath is multifarious and reveals social dynamics far more complex than that of black/white racial tendencies. In the melting pot that is the U.S., we cannot move on or learn from this kind of violence without recognizing this problem extends far beyond historical tensions between two groups.

July 22, 2015, 9:39 a.m.: This story has been updated to reflect the FBI's spelling of Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez.