Jewish World Review Oct. 30, 2002/ 24 Mar-Cheshvan, 5763
for Muslim extremists
On Thursday, after being informed that the two suspects were a black Muslim called Muhammad and his illegal-immigrant Jamaican sidekick, The New York Times nevertheless reported in its early editions that the pair were being sought for "possible ties to 'skinhead militia' groups." The Feds had already released a photo of Mr. Muhammad looking like one of the less goofy members of the Jackson Five and, though one should never rush to stereotype, it seems unlikely that a black Muslim with big hair would have many "ties" to skinhead militias.
But in the early hours of Thursday morning, the Times wasn't ready to give in: C'mon, there's gotta be some angry white male National Rifle Association right-wing redneck Second Amendment gun-nut neo-Nazi militia types in here somewhere, preferably living in a compound Janet Reno can come out of retirement to surround and torch.
Sadly not. Instead, we have a Muslim convert. A Muslim convert who last year discarded the name "Williams" and adopted a new identity as "Muhammad." A Muslim convert called Muhammad who publicly expressed his approval of al-Qaeda's September 11th attacks. A pro-al-Qaeda Muslim convert called Muhammad who marked the first anniversary of 9/11, to the exact minute, by visiting the Department of Motor Vehicles in Camden, New Jersey. Two minutes after he left the building, the cops arrived to deal with a mysterious bomb scare.
What are we expert profilers to make of such confusing and contradictory characteristics? Well, obviously, those of us in the media should not to be too hasty in connecting the dots. Instead, we should rush to disconnect them. Thus, CNN finds it easier to call Mr. Muhammad "Mr. Williams," a formulation likely to be encouraged by the guy's lawyers, once they're in place, just as, in the hands of the ever sensitive media, Abdul Hamid and Abdullah al-Muhajir were tactfully restored to their maiden names of John Walker Lindh and Jose Padilla. (By the way, was that a picture of Cassius Clay on the front of the National Post last week?) My local radio news described Mr. Muhammad as "an ex-soldier" and "an African-American male." Anyone spot the missing category? You can discern the preferred narrative: an African-American male from a deprived background driven psycho by military culture. But he left the army years ago and his transformation into a killer seems to be more or less coincidental with his transformation into Mr. Muhammad.
But pay no attention to that. Even though the crime (the random murder of Americans of all types, ages, genders and races) and the accused (an anti-American Islamist) are a perfect match, the network criminologists continue to profess themselves perplexed by the apparent lack of motive, as if we'll shortly discover that Mr. Muhammad had been denied a promotion at Burger King or he'd been abused as a child. It doesn't really matter whether Muhammad al-Sniper was acting on orders or simply improvising. The jihad-inciters in the Middle East are happy with either. If anything, the freelance approach suits them better: you don't need complicated and traceable communications and wire transfers; the punks on the ground will act independently just to impress you.
The media lapsed into the same denial mode the last time a forty-year-old radical Muslim called Mohamed opened fire on U.S. soil. July the Fourth, LAX, the El Al counter, two dead. CNN and The Associated Press all but stampeded to report a "witness" who described the shooter as a fat white guy in a ponytail who kept yelling "Artie took my job." But, alas, it was -- surprise! -- a Muslim called Hesham Mohamed Modayet.
Broadly speaking, in these interesting times, when something unusual and unprecedented happens, there are those who think on balance it's more likely to be a fellow called Mohammed than, say, Bud, and there are those who climb into the metaphorical burqa, close up the grille and insist, despite all the evidence, that we should be looking for some angry white male. I'm in the former camp and, apropos the sniper, said as much in The Chicago Sun-Times. I had a bet with both my wife and my assistant that the perp would be an Islamic terrorist. The gals, unfortunately, had made the mistake of reading The New York Times, whose experts concluded it would be a "macho hunter" or an "icy loner."
Speaking as a macho hunter and an icy loner myself, I'm beginning to think the media would be better off turning their psychological profilers loose on America's newsrooms. Take, for example, the Times' star columnist Frank Rich. Within a few weeks of September 11th, he was berating John Ashcroft, the Attorney-General, for not rounding up America's "home-grown Talibans" -- the religious right, members of "the Second Amendment cult" and "the anti-abortion terrorist movement." In a column entitled "How To Lose A War" last October - i.e., during the Afghan campaign -- he mocked the Administration for not consulting with abortion clinics, who had a lot of experience dealing with "terrorists."
You get the picture: Sure, Muslim fundamentalists can be pretty extreme, but what about all our Christian fundamentalists? Unfortunately, for the old moral equivalence to hold up, the Christians really need to get off their fundamentalist butts and start killing more people. At the moment, the brilliantly versatile Muslim fundamentalists are gunning down Maryland schoolkids and bus drivers, hijacking Moscow musicals, self-detonating in Israeli pizza parlours, blowing up French oil tankers in Yemen, and slaughtering nightclubbers in Bali, while Christian fundamentalists are, er, sounding extremely strident in their calls for the return of prayer in school.
Oh, well. It's not just the media who bend over backwards to look the other way. It turns out Muhammad al-Sniper was twice reported to the FBI for suspected terrorist links. Though living in a homeless shelter, he had the wherewithal to travel extensively round the country by plane, as the shelter's director discovered when a ticket agent called up to confirm Mr. Muhammad's booking. "At the mission, not many airline agents call and ask for residents," says the Rev. Al Archer. I'll bet. But, even after September 11th, a guy in a homeless shelter stacking up the frequent-flier miles wasn't enough to attract the Bureau's attention.
As for his teen "ward" (please, no giggling), he's an illegal immigrant -- or, in the loopily PC designation of the networks, "an African-American from Jamaica," which seems a nicely inclusive way of describing a subject of the Crown. He was briefly in the custody of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, but they let him go in breach of their own procedures.
So 10 more Americans have been killed by a guy the FBI never bothered checking out and a guy the INS released into the community to add to the 3,000 killed by Saudis the State Department should never have approved the visas of. Perhaps it's time for at least one white male to get a little angry: the President.
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JWR contributor Mark Steyn is Senior Contributing Editor of The National Post. Comment by clicking here.
09/27/02: The more inventively you try to ''explain'' the Islamist psychosis as a rational phenomenon to be accommodated, the more you risk sounding just as nutty as them