Sunday, December 14, 2008

Arabs Bombed Woodburn Bank? Get a Grip

Yesterday I wrote a post about a bank bombing in Woodburn, Oregon ("Al Qaeda Behind Woodburn, Oregon, Bank Bombing? Not Likely" (December 13, 2008)). We still don't know anything about who is responsible, except that the person or people are rather dangerous. A spokesperson for the Sheriff's office summed it up rather well: " 'You can't rule out any theory,' she said, 'so you follow every single lead.' " (OregonLive (December 14, 2008))

Right now, I'm with the Sheriff's spokesperson: there's no way to know who is responsible. And, although I think I made myself fairly clear in yesterday's post, it may be time for some clarification.

What prompted me to re-visit the Woodburn bank bombing so soon was data I found in this blog's statistics.

I do not track individuals who visit this blog, but I do pay attention to what search engines get used, and what search terms lead people here. It's not idle curiosity: If I'm going to have a useful blog, I need to know how people find their way to Another War-on-Terror Blog.

Here's what I found in the listing of search terms today:
  • woodburn oregon bomb conspiracy
  • woodburn oregon islamic center
  • woodburn mosque
  • woodburn ordnance
  • woodburn bombing
  • is there a large arab community in woodburn oregon
Two of the ones I listed give no hint about the mind-set of whoever visited this blog: "woodburn ordnance" and "woodburn bombing."

On the other hand, words and phrases like "conspiracy," "islamic center," and "mosque" make me think that people are seeing Muslims and/or Arabs the way that some saw Japanese more than a half-century ago.

Happily, American government policy has changed. We learn from our mistakes.

Individuals, though, often don't.

Woodburn: Home of Hispanics, Tulip-Growers, Russians, Poppy Farmers, and Other Suspicious People

After reading that "is there a large arab community in woodburn oregon" I went back into yesterday's research and pulled out some numbers:

Woodburn, Oregon, "Ethnicity & culture:"
  • 52% Hispanic
  • 11% Russian heritage
They've got a mess of churches, listed by the Chamber of Commerce, including:
  • Quiet Place Ministries
  • Soul's Harbor Church of the Nazarene
  • Woodburn Christian Church
  • Woodburn United Methodist Church
What jumped out at me from that list was what wasn't there, so I did a little more checking.

Sure enough, Woodburn has Catholic churches, too. Two of them, at least:
  • St Luke Catholic Church
  • St Agnes Catholic Church
Why the Chamber of Commerce didn't mention the Catholics, I don't know.

There's also a "non-denominational" group called Mid Valley Community Church.

I didn't find a Jewish community center or synagogue listed in Woodburn, and there doesn't seem to be an Islamic community center there, either.

But, between Hispanics, people with Russian roots, poppy farmers, and Catholics, there are still plenty of people in Woodburn who fit one set of biases or another.

Get a Grip, People! A-rabs, Ruskies and Foreigners Ain't the Problem!

People who set bombs are the problem. So are people who want to kill presidential candidates. Some of them are Islamic fanatics. Some are meth-heads. Some think 'those people' should go back where they came from: forgetting that Iroquois and Cree chauvinists might feel the same way about them. There are even people who seem to believe that a secret cabal of liberals, Catholics, Masons, and Jesuit assassins is behind the world's troubles.

The sheriff's spokesperson made good sense: " 'You can't rule out any theory,' she said, 'so you follow every single lead.' " It's not unreasonable to consider possibilities: but would be folly to point at one group or another without any evidence.

Related posts: In the news: Background: Related posts, on tolerance, bigotry, racism, and hatred.

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.