Okay, so there's this Iraqi restaurant called Babylon in Lowell, Massachusetts, and one day last week, apparently because it's an Iraqi restaurant, a man threw a twenty-pound rock through the window. The owners, naturally, feared that hate was the motivating factor behind the attack and thought about closing up shop and moving away before someone got hurt.
Lowell police have identified the man who threw the stone--he eventually confessed--but believe his motive wasn't hate: "Unless this gentleman is lying to us--and I don't believe that he is--he didn't even know this restaurant was affiliated with people from Iraq," said Lowell police Superintendent Kenneth Lavallee.
So, the police don't think it's a Hate Crime, and yet they offer no other explanation. But a group of local citizens are taking a stand, for the restaurant. A group of veterans, many from the Iraq war.
One such skeptical veteran is Patrick Scanlon, a Vietnam veteran and coordinator of Veterans for Peace. Scanlon organized the show of support for the Babylon restaurant, and was joined for lunch...and dinner....by Iraq war veterans like former Army Sgt. Rachel McNeill and Chris Borden. Also sitting down in protest of hate, was a ninety-six-year-old veteran, Paul Brailsford, a former captain in the Merchant Marines who served in World War II. The veterans held flags and signs in front of the restaurant as they took turns sitting down inside to eat meals.
Twice. See, they had so many veterans come out in support of Babylon, that they filled the restaurant twice over.
Babylon owner Leyla Al-Zubaidi and her father Ahmed Al-Zubaidi said their family was terrified the vandalism was fueled by hate, but the show of support from veterans and the community has changed their minds.
Ahmed Al-Zubaidi: "This solidarity gives us the courage to stand. There is no more fear in my heart because there are such nice people behind us."
There has been some negative press this week about the American military--based on the actions of a few Marines--but these men truly represent the United States, standing up, standing tall, making all of us proud, and safe, to be Americans.
It's a good Friday.