Killing in the Name Of...

Killing in the Name Of…

I’ve decided not everything I write in this blog is simply going to be me heading to a church, mosque, synagogue, gurdwara or temple. Even from the dawn of religion, it was always tied up politics whether big P (government) or little p (interpersonal). Therefore, it’s not possible to have an honest discussion without revealing some of my biases and experiences as a disclaimer before I describe my experiences.

I’ve already touched on a few subjects, namely: a) my interpretation of Islam, and b) the continued reliance of white actors to play biblical movie roles. In this post, I discuss the ways that murders of religions adherents are addressed.

American Psycho

150211031042-craig-stephen-hicks-large-169Every few years (seemingly more often) we have a case like we’re now faced with in North Carolina. Members of an ethnic or religious minority are killed for no good reason (there is hardly ever a justifiable reason) and we are left to try and understand the killer’s mindset and whether the murder qualifies as a “hate crime”. Often when the case involves a white killer and a non-white victim, there is a focus on his “mental state” and some vague platitude that we, as Americans, need to do more to address mental health. The descriptive words applied to Muslims (terrorists) or Black / Latinos (thug, gang banger) are completely absent.

Notice the treatment of the white Canadian convert to Islam who carried out the Ottawa attacks with the Sandy Hook shooter. Both actions were tragic and reprehensible, but the Canadian suspect was described as troubled, his mental state accelerating downward especially after finding Islam. Notice the implicit negative bias here, that someone converting to Islam must have something defective or lacking in their character. Unfortunately the news media drove home the point, this man became a murderer because he was Muslim. Much was made of the Sandy Hook shooter perhaps being autistic and having only a foggy grip on reality. As for the Canadian, he became an “other” the minute he became a Muslim. This difference always implies that this level of anger and violence (especially for a white suspect) is an anomaly, only explainable through mental illness, where characterizations of other groups are much more “inherent” and values laden.

150211130848-lv-sot-joe-johns-muslim-students-killed-unc-00001407-large-169Watching CNN, there was a healthy debate between Host Erin Burnett and guest Dean Obadiah. Burnett was making the claim that it was difficult to label it hate a crime as the killer (Craig Hicks) was an Atheist and had previous defended Muslims during the debate of the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque”. Obadiah, a Muslim, countered that Hicks had verbal altercations with other tenants in the building, but had not acted with physical violence towards them. Obadiah asserted that the victims were shot because they were Muslim, and would not have been attacked if they were Christians or anything else.

There was also a segment that tried to identify if he was Christian at some point in the past. Here the implication seemed to say that he might be more likely to kill a Muslim if he were Christian. I believe religion, or the absence of religion doesn’t make people turn violent. Mental makeup and life situations are the surest predictor.

Ultimately though, I don’t know who or what to believe. It is possible to still be Liberal and have bias against a particular faith, because it has been used as justification to silence dissent, hence inherently opposed to Liberal values? I’ve heard Atheists mention that without Religion, the world would be at peace, or in any case, a lot less violent. Again, I’m not sure. Stalin and Mao were the greatest mass murders of the modern age, carrying out their state policies with equally potent ideology that became its own religion of sorts.

Humans are, if nothing else, violent and tribal. We seek classification as a way to make sense of the world, and to justify behavior. If the killer had been Muslim, and the victims had been Atheist, wouldn’t we be calling this a terrorist attack? If the killer lacks a religious identity and ideology, we are faced with the truth: that a man is so angry and violent that he is willing to kill someone over a parking spot. Add this to the case of the man killed over a cell phone in a movie theatre, of the kids killed in their own car for listening to music“too” loudly. That to me is the most terrifying aspect. We have become a culture in which a segment of society believes it has the right to inflict violence simply because they are inconvenienced.

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