In July 2013, Ryan Carr tweeted what he thought was a "funny joke" and then probably forgot about it.
One year later, Asishpal Singh stepped in.
@HardRCarr ugh I know what you mean, I get really uncomfortable whenever I see a white man walk into a movie theater or elementary school— Ashishpal Singh (@YungAshuSingh) August 5, 2014
His comeback, posted on Tuesday, quickly went viral and for good reason: It's brilliant.
Not only did he respond flawlessly to an utterly stupid case of blatant bigotry and misplaced paranoia, he also did so in just 126 characters. You can write an opus fighting against prejudice and racism but, as Singh proved, sometimes the most effective comebacks are the snappiest.
The first problem: As Vox pointed out, turbans are predominantly worn by Sikhs. Sikhism is an independent religion with no association to Islam or the Arab world, though those were undoubtedly the groups Carr was referencing. His tweet was so racist that it even conflated different races. (This doesn't mean that Muslim or Arab people are justifiable targets, only that Carr's understanding of these religions and ethnicities was factually incorrect on top of being racist in itself.)
Image Credit: Getty
Truth in comedy. Singh cleverly and clearly made an excellent point: Even though these elementary schools, movie theaters and white men are often associated with mass shootings, we're not constantly walking around afraid of them, let alone making bad jokes about them.
Shootings have occurred much more frequently on American soil than Islamic-led terrorist attacks. According to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, the average number of mass shootings has tripled since 2008 — 207 people were killed in them from 2009 to 2012, versus 145 killed from 2000 to 2008.
In contrast, 36 people (including the Boston marathon bombing victims) in the United States have been killed by radical Islamists post-9/11, according to Charles Kuzman, a professor of sociology and author of the book The Missing Martyrs: Why There Are So Few Muslim Terrorists.
Although nearly 3,000 people were killed in the 9/11 attack, gun violence in general has killed more Americans than terrorism in the last 50 or so years. The Washington Post reports that between 1969 and 2009, terrorism against the U.S. at home and abroad killed a total of 5,586 people. Between 1986 and 2010 alone, gun violence killed around 30,000 Americans per year.
Simply put: Xenophobia and racism dramatically increase our sense of danger.
We have a one-sided definition of terrorism in the United States. The narrative always centers around people who look different from the average, mainstream American — if such an image even exists. Few people would consider the recent rash of mass shootings acts of terrorism and that's what Singh so expertly exposed.
It seems that Carr eventually realized the error of his ways and took the takedown in stride, tweeting back at Singh:
@YungAshuSingh yo you're actually funny if anyone's seen my twitter it's never to be taken seriously but I laughed at your tweet— ryan carr (@HardRCarr) August 6, 2014
As Mic's Zak Cheney-Rice sagely advises on the topic, "Be mindful, and if you feel the urge to say or post something stupid … just don't."
Correction: August 7, 2014
An earlier version of this article incorrectly used "Arabic," rather than Arab, to characterize people.
Correction: August 14, 2014
An earlier version of this article stated that between 1986 and 2010, gun violence killed 30,000 Americans. Gun violence has killed roughly that number of people per year, not in total.