The truth of the matter is that this innocent victim of the Boston Marathon Bombing was suspected, scapegoated, harassed, and villainized by people and the media without evidence simply because he had the misfortune of being a brown person while doing what most others were doing too at the site. Simply, this is the injustice of racial profiling.
We don’t know yet who did this. “The range of suspects and motives remains wide open,” Richard Deslauriers of the F.B.I. said early Tuesday evening. In a minute, with a claim of responsibility, our expectations could be scrambled. The bombing could, for all we know, be the work of a Saudi man—or an American or an Icelandic or a person from any nation you can think of. It still won’t mean that this Saudi man can be treated the way he was, or that people who love him might have had to find out that a bomb had hit him when his name popped up on the Web as a suspect in custody. It is at these moments that we need to be most careful, not least.
It might be comforting to think of this as a blip, an aberration, something that will be forgotten tomorrow—if not by this young man. There are people at Guanátanmo who have also been cleared by our own government, and are still there. A new report on the legacy of torture after 9/11, released Tuesday, is a well-timed admonition. The F.B.I. said that they would “go to the ends of the earth” to get the Boston perpetrators. One wants them to be able to go with their heads held high.