November 2009 Column Winner

Editor asks if she’s prejudiced or a bigot
By Barb Walter, Hennessey Clipper
November 12, 2009

A friend tells me I cut people too much slack.

She says I make excuses for their actions, and I’m wondering if she’d have made allowances for me Friday afternoon.

I’d decided on retail therapy after a long meeting in Oklahoma City and had just gotten my shopping cart when I saw something dark out of the corner of my right eye. It’s my good eye, but lately objects seem to jump out at me.

It was someone in costume. But Halloween was the week before.

It was an Islamic woman.

I tried not to appear startled, but I felt uneasy because of the Ft. Hood shootings the day before.

I imagined she had a bomb under the bulky clothing that  covered her from head to toe. She was masked in her black scarf and face veil.  Only her eyes and oversized Americanized eyeglasses showed.

Her eyes didn’t look happy.

I wasn’t happy seeing her.

I wondered what would have made her go out in public the day after a Muslim madman Army psychiatrist killed 13 people and injured more than 30.

Although I wasn’t in the store for more than 20 minutes, I saw the woman two more times.

It was creepy, and while making metal notes of what I could tell authorities later, I noticed there was a young, dark-haired man walking behind her. Or was he a boy?

His short-sleeve shirt was too tight. He was wearing jeans and tennis shoes and his well-trimmed hair framed his dark-skinned face.

There were blue jeans in the woman’s shopping cart.

He must be her son.

Be alert.

vBe ready to give information if you live through the explosion, I thought.

When I got back to SH3, I looked over my shoulder to see if the shopping center was going up in smoke.

It wasn’t and soon I was telling myself that we all need to stay alert, but we shouldn’t let our imaginations run wild. And our prejudices.

Was I prejudiced because of the war in the Middle East and the Ft. Hood murders?

How did that nut case named Hasan make it to the rank of Major?

Why did they allow that crazy man to counsel our young military men and women?

Was it in the name of being politically correct because of his religion?

How could he have killed so many people with two handguns, even though one was a semi-automatic?

Is it the Islamic religion that I fear?

The disregard for human life?

It’s probably a combination of all my questions. Your questions. All of the questions we have in these trying times.

I’m trying to cut the Muslim woman in OKC some slack.

I’m trying not to judge people.

I’m trying not to be stupid and over react.

I’m trying not to let my guard down.

We have a responsibility to take care of our own.

Call me prejudiced.

Call me a bigot.

Call me any name you want, but don’t think for a minute that we should ever cut Hasan any slack.

Instead, let’s mourn for the families and friends of those who were killed and maimed by that mad man. Let us keep watch on those who may harm us no matter their race or religion.