The violent acts of Muslims and non-Muslims are often differentiated as to their roots by both the far right, the media and the broader society both forces influence. When a Muslim kills, blame Islam; when a white Christian kills blame the white Christian.
Former New York Times columnist Stanley Fish wrote an excellent piece on his NYT blog about this very issue, bringing back the dark and stupid time 15 years ago when the Oklahoma City bombing occurred.
“In the brief period between the bombing and the emergence of McVeigh, speculation had centered on Arab terrorists and the culture of violence that was said to be woven into the fabric of the religion of Islam.
But when it turned out that a white guy (with the help of a few of his friends) had done it, talk of “culture” suddenly ceased and was replaced by the vocabulary and mantras of individualism: each of us is a single, free agent; blaming something called “culture” was just a way of off-loading responsibility for the deeds we commit; in America, individuals, not groups, act; and individuals, not groups, should be held accountable.”
I know exactly what Fish is talking about; I remember the reactions and the assumptions of Islamic militancy – both popular and in the media – and the sudden change from vengeance to how-could this-have-happened? (subtext – how could a nice white boy do such an Islamic thing?)
Fish correctly points out how right-wing idiots like Jonah Goldberg (author of “Liberal Fascism,” a stupid contradiction if there ever was one) downplay the assault on a Muslim cab driver by Michael Enright, while making the so-called “ground zero mosque” into something more sinister and reflecting the entire Muslim community’s desire for Shari’a-inspired conquest and in league with Al-Qaeda.
I would add that this hypocrisy exists alongside the fact that the United States engages in occupations and military actions far more destructive than anything groups like Al-Qaeda have done, or can do. It serves to mask the horror and even justify it on existential grounds.
The deaths of 10 election workers in Afghanistan serves as a reminder of the occupation’s daily routine; one marked by predator drone airstrikes that kill civilians in greater numbers under Obama than Bush and war crimes committed by troops on the ground.
Yet the same people who support this occupation are up in arms about a “ground zero mosque” and paranoid about a “stealth jihad.” They also downplay the monsters that emerge out of this cultural cave – the assailant, Michael Enright, told his victim Ahmed Sharif to “consider this a checkpoint” before he stabbed him; he was also “working on a film about Marines’ experiences in Afghanistan,” according to the New York Times.
In other words, his actions don’t appear to have anything to do with ground zero. His actions appear to be motivated instead by the Afghan occupation, a policy both Obama and the far right support.
So, the issue goes far beyond the double standards of which Fish writes of; it’s about America’s heart of darkness.