A Muslim woman, who wishes to rename unidentified, reported experiencing a violent attack on the morning of April 10 in Milwaukee. According to her account, a man pulled up to her in a car and demanded she take off her hijab. When she refused, he got out of his car and swung her to the ground. He proceeded to beat her, stepping on her head over and over again, even using a knife to cut into her arm. While beating her, he yelled slurs and insults, and finally pulled off her hijab.
The headscarf she was wearing was found to be bloodstained and the jacket torn. Managing to get home after her attacker left, she suffered a seizure. She was hospitalized and released the next afternoon. The man did not steal any of her belongings, making it easily apparent that his purpose was to bodily harm her and remove her scarf, to which end he succeeded. Authorities have not yet made an arrest and an investigation is underway to find the perpetrator.
Fox 6 Now coverage of this story emphasizes this is an alleged hate crime. They cannot be sure that the motivation was hate. They are not alone. Too often, police and media outlets hesitate to call a hate crime by its name, skirting around the edges, calling it anything but.
While I understand that a full investigation remains before conclusions can be made, I do not see the same amount of hesitation in reports describing occurrences where the scenario is flipped. When the attacker is Muslim, terrorism is the default buzzword. When the victim is Muslim, suddenly, we are confused, clouded. Suddenly we have to wait and see, really dig into the attack before assuming the attacker could possibly be racist. Can’t have that. Because Muslims as aggressors is a narrative we have grown too comfortable with.
We are so selective in calling out terror, so blinded by the one-toned nature of the way we speak about such attacks. The woman’s clothing, a religious garment, was literally ripped from her body, and we’re still wondering whether it’s a hate crime. Are we still so afraid as a nation to really look at our faults? To look at racism, bigotry, sexism in the eye and call it what it is?