Like millions of Americans across the nation, my heart dropped at the news of the bombings in Boston. As a mother, I was devastated for those who lost their children. As a spouse, I mourned for those who lost their life partner. And as a Muslim, I admittedly feared for the safety of my children and community from the inevitable backlash that would arise at the mere speculation that the suspect is a Muslim.
But most importantly, as an American, I felt indignation and anger at those who dared to rob us of our fundamental right to be safe in our own country. For what is freedom worth, if one cannot live securely without fear of bombings and criminal terrorist acts.
The next few months will be a true test of our faith in our constitution and our freedoms. Standing together, as Americans of various faiths, ethnicities, and races, we must unite to preserve our fundamental values.
These will be trying times as we search for not only who was behind these cowardly acts, but what we could have done to prevent them. There will be those who call on a categorical crackdown on any person or group who share the same faith, race, or ethnicity as the suspects. Others will be willing to give the government unfettered discretion to aggressively surveil and investigate even the most tenuous suspicious activity, casting aside our long standing probable cause of wrongdoing standard. And yet others may exploit fear arising from this tragedy to promote bigotry.
But our nation is stronger than that. Whether we are eighth generation or first generation American, we have faith that our justice system can and will punish the criminals behind this act of terror. We know that we do not have to forfeit our civil liberties in order to preserve our security. And we know that everyone should be judged as individuals based on his or her deeds rather than the bad acts of others who may share the same skin color, religion, or ethnicity. These values are the bedrock of our democracy.
As I write, we have yet to know who was behind this despicable act of terror. But whomever it was, we must stand by our core values as we seek justice for the victims of this horrendous attack. For any attack against America is an attack against all Americans, regardless of their faith or ethnicity.
And all Americans are united in our revulsion at this horrible attack.
_____________________Sahar Aziz is an Associate Professor at Texas Wesleyan School of Law and a fellow at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding. She previously served as a Senior Policy Advisor at the US Department of Homeland Security's Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.