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Istanbul attacks bring out Twitter’s nasty side (again)

It’s been just a little over 48 hours since three men with bombs and guns wreaked total havoc on Istanbul’s Atatürk Airport in a horrific terrorist attack that left 41 people dead and 239 more injured, 100 of which remain hospitalized for their injuries. It’s suspected that the Islamic State is responsible for the attack, but that’s not been confirmed.

In the aftermath of the pandemonium and loss, we seem to be doing the impossible — getting used to it. The reaction to these attacks, particularly following one in Paris and one in Brussels, calls for mourning, #PrayFor hashtags and little shareable bits of social media ephemera, like memes and artwork. It’s almost like we’re reaching for a security blanket in the wake of the carnage.

More: 25 comforting quotes to help ease the pain of a loss

Another reaction — nearly as predictable but one we hope we never get used to — is the hateful bigoted garbage that comes spewing out of people’s mouths and keyboards whenever they hear the words “dead people” and “Muslims” in the same sentence.

It’s reasonable to be angry at terrorists. It’s reasonable to be ultra pissed at the fundamentalism of people who abuse their positions within a religious hierarchy to warp young minds and send them out into the world to take lives. A higher level of thinking allows you to be livid at the thought of this school of thought prevailing again without turning into a mirror image of the xenophobic-pig ignorance that made it all possible in the first place.

This reaction isn’t just completely counterproductive and more than a little cynical. It’s disingenuous and flat-out lazy, to boot.

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It doesn’t take a lot of effort to understand that if a group of cowards will attack a crowded airport in a country that is overwhelmingly populated by Muslims — even when that group claims to be acting in the name of Islam — that they don’t come close to representing what is a staggering religious majority there. No one is that stupid.

Turkey is certainly a country that is overwhelmingly populated by Muslims. How overwhelmingly? Of the people who live there, 99.8 percent identify as Muslim. For the record, that’s far, far more than even our own country’s population of Christians, still a vast majority at 70.6 percent of the population.

Of the people who died in the airport 48 hours ago, it is almost certainly a given that they themselves were Muslims. That makes the idea that this is just one more example of the cruelty and zealotry of an entire group weighed with the stubby measuring stick of a couple of gun-wielding douche bags a particularly stupid one.

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Can you imagine if we reacted this way to the other attacks that we’ve grown sickeningly used to in the past few decades? “Oh, a dude shot up an elementary school? Well, that’s Christian white guys for ya!” But somehow, because so many of us are capable of real empathy only if it directly affects the way we look at ourselves, we don’t hold our own homegrown atrocity peddlers to the same standards that we are holding Tuesday’s Atatürk victims.

Because when people willfully say obtuse garbage like this:

That’s exactly what we’re doing. We are stomping on the memory of dead mothers and brothers and kids to get in a nasty jibe about “those people.”

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Well, those people are dead. Those people are mourning. Those people are healing, and some of those people will be fighting for their lives for some time to come. If it is more important to you to make a half-baked point that falls apart under the scrutiny a fifth-grader can provide, then it’s possible you may not be the groundbreaking authority on humanity you think you are.

And you should shut up.

Before you go, check out our slideshow below:

kindness quotes
Image: Sarah Orsag/Getty Images

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