UPDATE: Follow along for live coverage of the unfolding situation in Boston, where one bomber is still at large and one has been confirmed dead.
The FBI has released photos and videos of the two suspects wanted for the bombing of the Boston Marathon on Monday, and immediate reaction from social media continues the intense speculation of the suspects' ethnicity. Terrorism isn't the purview of certain cultures or peoples, but the desperation of those who become captivated by their own victimization by society. Terrorists aren't going to be more easily captured based on their skin color or their hometown, but by their inability to predict the swift and exacting response of the masses. Nonetheless, that doesn't stop people from focusing on the identifiable symbols that they can direct their helplessness toward. This is misdirected.
The ease with which the suspects navigate the crowd in the video goes against this image, which has been further defined post-9/11 as a Middle-Eastern or Asian young male with anger in his eyes and identifiably Muslim garb. Some users specifically pointed out the relatively young looking suspects dressed and behaved unsuspiciously in the crowd. This reaction is similar to the immediate surprise when Aurora, Colorado theater shooting suspect James Holmes was announced to the press, where the reaction focused on a mentally disturbed university student.
Apart from the reaction to the apparent 'normalcy' of the suspects, people continued to speculate the ethnicity of the suspects, focusing mainly on Middle-Eastern and Asian stereotypes, and showing confusion at the seemingly lighter-skinned appearance of the suspects than expected.
Redditors are not the only ones hoping the suspects turn out not to be Muslim, further proving the sensitivity to racial stereotyping that has developed since 9/11. News media has been speculating all week as well, with Fox News and CNN both choosing incompetence and racial insensitivity over accuracy of information.
'Average Joe' looking suspects creating this kind of surprised reaction is a result of the ingrained media-fueled image of terrorists, domestic or international, as being disheveled, manic, and stereotypically out of place.
We should be focused not on their ethnicity but on bringing these morons to justice.