As the country, perhaps the world, continues to focus on the heinous and tragic slaying of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin one month ago, a family in San Diego gets ready to bury 32-year-old Shaima Alawadi who was murdered Thursday, died Friday.
Two people, opposite sides of the country, opposite cultures, share a common bound in death – both were apparently victims of hate crimes. Martin allegedly wore a hoody and while Alawadi wore a hijab, the Islamic head scarf.
Two people, opposite sides of the country, share a common link in death – a piece of apparel that presumably targeted them in death. For Martin, a hoody that many adolescents wear and Alawadi, the hijab worn by observant Muslims.
But until Monday, little was reported about Alawadi’s slaying. Was hers any worse than Martin’s? Critics say George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, shot Martin presumably because Martin was black.
Alawadi was murdered, presumably because she was an Iraqi-born Muslim. A hate crime? Media reports say a note, which read “go back to your country, you terrorist,” was found next to her body.
Two senseless murders, probably the result of hate, make national news. One barely while the other has dominated the headlines.
Martin’s murder has engaged and enraged people from his native Florida to the Whitehouse. It has been the lead story on TV newscasts, reported on the front page of newspapers around the country.
Alawadi’s? It had two paragraphs in the Chicago Tribune with the Chicago Sun-Times running a more detailed story – but on page 22.
Is Taylor’s slaying more tragic than Alawadi’s because he leaves grieving parents? Alawadi was the mother of five.
The tragic reality is both appeared to be motivated by hate. But yet, for whatever reason, Alawadi’s is ho-hum news. Yes, way too many Americans died in her homeland. But thousands of Americans died in Japan and Viet-Nam, yet we don’t accept senseless murders of Asian Americans.
A hoody or hijab are not reasons to commit murder. The murders are heinous. Period.
It’s a small consolation, but at least they have the perpetrator in the Martin case. So far, no one has been charged in Alawadi’s slaying.
But why an imbalance of coverage? Two murders seemingly motivated by hate are at opposite spectrums of public awareness.
Hate crimes are senseless crimes. The mere fact that they are minority segments of the populations doesn’t make them acceptable.
What would have happened if Martin had been a white kid from the suburbs and Alawadi a Catholic school girl? More coverage? More sympathy?
We’ll never know. In the meantime the reality is that hate crimes are no less tragic if the victims were wearing a hoody, hijab or a polo shirt.
The bottom line is hate crimes are senseless and what’s headlines for one should be headlines for the other.