My heart goes out to family and friends in Australia for the tragic incident in central Melbourne.
As the news is still unfolding and victims are still being treated, a madman plowed through pedestrians in a busy Melbourne shopping district.
How it unfolded on my Facebook and Twitter newsfeeds:
News broke of a madman intentionally plowing down pedestrians in the city center…
Numerous people took to social media to claim (without substantiation) that the man was Muslim and was yelling “praise Allah” in Arabic…
Many people immediately started attacking Muslims, including numerous Greek Australians I’ve either befriended over the years or those who know me via The Pappas Post.
“Another Muslim,” one Greek Australian man wrote on another’s post.
One Greek woman in Sydney wrote “Horrible! They should all be rounded up and sent home! Damn Muslims!”
The ugliness of racism and bigotry started coming out— that mob mentality that plagues society and turns American against American… or in this case, Australian against Australian. It all of the sudden becomes an “us versus them” world.
We don’t stop and think. We allow unfiltered emotion to take hold and overpower logic.
We turn to Twitter and Facebook and start unleashing anti-Muslim rhetoric.
“Donald Trump was right,” one Greek American from New York wrote on a post that described the incident, adding that “Muslims need to be registered and tracked.”
I can’t help but think of Sophocles right now and his masterful use of tragic irony in drama— to show a person’s ultimate ignorance. He, and other Ancient Greek play writes were masters of using irony.
If only some of us later descendants of these great Greeks learned something from those we often cite as our forefathers.
In about an hour of following this story and searching hashtags and news reports, reading comments and filtering through pages and pages of posts on Facebook and Twitter, I counted dozens of Greek-sounding names making vile and disparaging comments against Muslims.
Many of these people have just been handed a dose of good, old-fashioned Greek irony only the way Sophocles himself could muster up.
The perpetrator of the heinous crime was a man of Greek descent.
My thoughts are with the families of the victims of this terrible crime.