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Opinion: After 9/11, reaction to Muslim Americans more nuanced
April 24th, 2013
05:24 PM ET

Opinion: After 9/11, reaction to Muslim Americans more nuanced

Editor's Note: Hussein Rashid is a native New York Muslim. He teaches at Hofstra University in the department of religion. He is an associate editor at Religion Dispatches, a term member on the Council on Foreign Relations, and fellow at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding.

(CNN) - After the tragic Boston Marathon bombing on April 15, a dramatic firefight in Watertown and the final capture of one of the two suspects, there are two names tied to this tragedy: Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, two brothers believed to be behind the attack.

We are learning quite a bit about them: where they grew up, what the older brother may have believed and how friends and family remember them.

However, whatever we learn about them does not tell us why they did what they did – only parts of who they are. It is easy, in the initial aftermath of the bombings, to make careless associations between identity and motive, similar to post 9/11 reaction.

But this time, there is a change in rhetoric of how  potential suspects are identified, particularly if they are Muslim. It is because of this change we are learning to move past paralyzing fear and maturing in how we think of what it means to be American. FULL POST

NAACP chief: A GOP path to black votes
Benjamin Jealous says if Republicans want to draw black votes, addressing inequities of mass incarceration is a place to start.
April 24th, 2013
08:16 AM ET

NAACP chief: A GOP path to black votes

Editor's note: Benjamin Todd Jealous is president and CEO of the NAACP.

By Benjamin Todd Jealous, Special to CNN

(CNN) - Earlier this month Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) visited Howard University to take a swing at repairing relations between African Americans and the Republican Party.

As famed sportscaster Harry Kalas would have said, it was largely a swing and a miss.

Paul struck out when he tried to equate today's Republican Party with the party of Abraham Lincoln, while ignoring much of the 150 years in between. (He even acknowledged his mistakes shortly after). But his willingness to step up to the plate can provide a lesson for a GOP struggling to get on top.

Republicans will not win black votes by paying lip service to party history while attacking social programs and voting rights. But they can make inroads by showing a commitment to civil rights, something Paul managed to do briefly in his remarks.

Paul received applause when he told the Howard crowd, "We should not have drug laws or a court system that disproportionately punishes the black community." He illustrated using one issue where the GOP can connect with black voters: criminal justice reform.

FULL STORY