A few weeks ago, a British teenager’s tweet went viral as he asked how Muslims were supposed to stop ISIS when he couldn’t even get the girl he liked to text him back. Every time someone who is visibly a member of this or that broad group (Muslims, police officers, et al.) commits a terrible act, anything other than an immediate condemnation is seen as condoning that act. If you’re not with us, you’re against us.
What’s black and white and red all over? If we refuse to see anything but black and white, then we all will have bloody hands.
Let’s get the facts right. More importantly, let’s get the truth right. Taking one’s time to get it right is not the same thing as covering something up or dragging your feet to delay the inevitable. If we were the accused, we would also hope that our friends and family who knew us well would give us the benefit of the doubt. Would at least not immediately believe the things others accused us of without proof. But if the proof showed I did wrong then, to make excuses and to act as if better cannot be expected of me is just as offensive. To act as if others are less than just because they’re “other” or just because you know me is just as wrong. Respect and believe in me enough also to hold me accountable.
For every time we ask not to be painted in broad strokes, to be presumed guilty or treated as anything other than a human being who may be part of broader groups but is also an individual capable of his or her own thoughts, values, beliefs, actions—
It goes both ways. It has to, or it doesn’t at all. Somebody needs to be brave enough to go first.