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Don’t say that, lest ye offend my delicate sensibilities

In this post, I mentioned that the nut job Sulejmen Talovic went on a shooting rampage was a Muslim. Then, I noted that the right wing blogs were wondering why this fact wasn’t mentioned much in the press.

Persimmon’s PC radar went up and, first, I was accused of not knowing that Muslim was not an ethnicity but a religion. I’m fully aware, which is why I also stated he was a Bosnian immigrant. Then, persimmon made a good point in that I don’t know if this guy was religious or not. It is a valid point. And I am willing to buy that Sulejmen Talovic may not have been actively religious. The source that I found regarding his religion was Wikipedia, which links to other articles. This article mentions his ethnicity and religion and the source is his aunt. He may or may not be actively religious, of course. I should note that in the course of the 5 minutes it took me to type this, that the word Muslim was deleted and added back to the Wikipedia entry. A bit of a Wiki controversy.

So, simple question: Is it really that far out of the realm of possibility that this could have been a pathetic little Jihadi getting his Fatwah on? Why does it offend someone’s delicate sensibilities when a particular nutjob’s religion is mentioned to the point that we are not to mention it at all?

Now, I’m more inclined to believe the lone-gunman, nutjob theory in this case. That said, how much info do we need before we can label something terrorism? According to Rich:

We don’t know why Sulejmen Talovic decided to start shooting up the local mall, so it would be inappropriate to mention domestic terrorism, primarily because Talovic is a Muslim and you can’t call Muslims terrorists, especially if they are because you might offend other Muslims who aren’t terrorist, and who might express their injured feelings by kinapping and beheading a random bystander, and that kind of thing just gets in the way of diplomacy, doesn’t it? Nick Lay, on the other hand, isn’t a Muslim, so it’s OK to throw the label of terrorist around in his case.

The more accurate (and politically incorrect) question is: At what point do we label something Islamic Terrorism? After all, there are religious terrorists of the Christian right variety, the Irish Catholic variety, and a whole host of other varieties. I don’t know when one can make that distinction and be politically correct, but in this case I am not willing to rule it out. Period. Because, as Tam noted:

If you’re a young Islamic male and you go and kill people in Israel or Iraq, you’re a terrorist.

If you do it in America, you’re just a crazy loner.

23 Responses to “Don’t say that, lest ye offend my delicate sensibilities”

  1. tgirsch Says:

    The problem is that if this guy had been, say, a protestant Christian, his religion likely wouldn’t have been mentioned at all. Pretty much every major religion on the planet has driven nutjobs to awful acts of violence, but with the other religions, the nutjob is recognized as simply being a nutjob. But when the nutjob happens to be Muslim, suddenly his religion becomes an integral part of the story, as if that religion caused the violence. In many cases, the religion (whether or not it’s Islam) does enable the violence in some way, but in most cases of terrorism / violent rampages / whatever, the violence has decidedly non-religious causes. The religion is essentially used as an excuse to commit acts of violence that the perpetrator(s) wanted to engage in anyway.

    Sometimes, of course, it is purely religious in nature — witness Shia vs. Sunni, or the whole North Ireland Catholic-vs.-Protestant thing — but most of the time, it’s not, with religion simply being used as a motivator for political violence (9/11, for example).

    Let me put it to you in a way that I’m sure you’ll understand. Non-violent Muslims view this whole blame-the-religion-for-the-violence thing in very much the same way that you view the whole blame-the-guns-for-the-violence thing. Obsessing about the religion instead of the individual actor(s) is essentially the same thing as obsessing about the type of guns. You complain about the latter all the time, yet you seem puzzled when people complain about the former. Make sense?

  2. tgirsch Says:

    Oh, and the day people start calling Eric Rudolph a “Christian terrorist,” it becomes OK to call this lone nutjob an “Islamic terrorist.”

  3. SayUncle Says:

    Tom, to be clear, I am not blaming a religion. Just entertaining the idea that it could have been a factor or potential motivation. It could be as much a factor as was Eric Rudolph’s religion. But, you are correct that it is the individual nutjob that is the problem.

  4. SayUncle Says:

    Oh, and the day people start calling Eric Rudolph a “Christian terrorist,” it becomes OK to call this lone nutjob an “Islamic terrorist.”

    Really? And I do think rudolph is a christian terrorist. More accurately, a terrorist who happens to be motivated by his religion. Which is what I was getting at.

  5. Tam Says:

    Oh, and the day people start calling Eric Rudolph a “Christian terrorist,” it becomes OK to call this lone nutjob an “Islamic terrorist.”

    I always used “jeezonazi”, but whatever bastes your turkey.

    We had a small run of honest-to-Wotan jeezonazi terrorism in this country in the ’70s and ’80s, and anybody who thinks that the murder of David Berg wasn’t “Christian Identity Terrorism” needs to get back on their meds…

    …just like anybody who thinks that a terrorist who calls himself a “martyr” and shouts “Allahu akhbar” right before pushing the button isn’t an “Islamist terrorist”.

  6. CTD Says:

    Actually no, it makes no sense whatsoever. Guns are inanimate objects made of steel, wood and plastic. They cannot be causal actors in any situation, barring a belief in sorcery.

    Religion, on the other hand, is a set of precepts and attitudes held in the mind of a human being. Said attitudes and beliefs deeply affect the lives and behavior of those who hold them. Ask any religious person with deep convictions. They do not subscribe to their religion because it doesn’t affect their behavior. So when jihadist killers loudly proclaim they are doing what they are doing precisely because it is there religious duty to do so (though so far as I know this guy hasn’t said so), I tend to believe them. And at this point in history, to be frank, Muslims seem to do it with a great deal more frequency than members of other faiths. So when I hear about a young Muslim man going on a killing spree, yes, I tend to assume it was religiously motivated until I have evidence to the contrary.

  7. Captain Holly Says:

    The problem is that if this guy had been, say, a protestant Christian, his religion likely wouldn’t have been mentioned at all. Pretty much every major religion on the planet has driven nutjobs to awful acts of violence, but with the other religions, the nutjob is recognized as simply being a nutjob.

    Really? What if some evangelical Christian nutcase had taken a shotgun to a crowded gay bar? Do you really think the Media would be dancing around his religious affiliation? Hell, no, they’d be mentioning it in the first line of the story.

    Oh, and the day people start calling Eric Rudolph a “Christian terrorist,” it becomes OK to call this lone nutjob an “Islamic terrorist.”

    Uh, I lived through the Eric Rudolph thingy, and it was quite clear from the many news stories and the almost-weekly America’s Most Wanted profiles of him that his actions were motivated solely by his Christian beliefs. The Media are far, far, far more willing to discuss religion when it comes to Christians blowing up abortion clinics than they are when it comes to Muslims blowing up Christians.

    Indeed, I can’t help but wonder what kind of cognitive dissonance they’ll have when a Muslim blows up an abortion clinic.

    Look, I don’t know for sure if this was an act of terrorism. But what’s frustrating is the complete lack of skeptical curiosity on the part of the MSM and people like you.

    Ask yourself this: Why would a young Muslim man — who grew up in the middle of a bloody Muslim-Christian civil war, who probably spent his childhood in fear of certain Christians, who likely had friends, relatives, or neighbors who were killed by those Christians, whose family finally fled to America to avoid being killed by those Christians — take a shotgun, pistol, and tons of ammo into a crowded mall full of Christians located in the heartland of the country that is currently fighting what many of his fellow Muslims believe is a Second Crusade, and try to kill as many of them as possible?

    Naaaaw. Couldn’t be terrorism.

  8. Guav Says:

    If you’re a young Islamic male and you go and kill people in Israel or Iraq, you’re a terrorist.
    If you do it in America, you’re just a crazy loner.

    Well, no. I’d argue that intent and motivation is the sole decider.

    If you’re a young Islamic, Christian or Jewish male and you lose your shit, have a psychotic episode and randomly go and kill people in Israel, Iraq or America, you’re a crazy loner.

    If you’re a young Islamic, Christian or Jewish male and you go and kill people in Israel, Iraq or America motivated by by your religion or for political reasons, you’re a terrorist.

  9. Captain Holly Says:

    In support of what I wrote above, the Salt Lake newspapers today have stories about what this kid went through in Bosnia.

    Now, all this childhood trauma may have left him full of anger and hatred towards people in general, and he might have just “snapped”. But it also may have left him full of anger and hatred towards Christians, and he might have decided to get some revenge. It’s amazing that so many people are so willing to accept the first possibility, while breezily dismissing the second.

  10. tgirsch Says:

    Uncle:

    I wasn’t accusing you of anything, sorry if you took it that way. I was speaking in generalities (which is also what I though you were doing).

    Captain Holly:
    What if some evangelical Christian nutcase had taken a shotgun to a crowded gay bar? Do you really think the Media would be dancing around his religious affiliation?

    No, but that’s apples and oranges. Have the Christian nutcase open fire in a mall rather than a gay bar, and you’ve got a better example. And in any case, the more likely it is that the MSM will mention “Christian,” the less likely it is that they’ll use the word “terrorism.” There’s an inverse proportion, which only serves to feed the stereotype that terrorism is something perpetrated exclusively (or almost exclusively) by Muslims. (This is also why you see a lot of the tinfoil hat wearing crowd trying to tie Tim McVeigh to Islamists…)

    it was quite clear from the many news stories … that his actions were motivated solely by his Christian beliefs

    And the words “terrorist” and “terrorism” were avoided, err, religiously, in those stories. That’s kind of my point.

    But what’s frustrating is the complete lack of skeptical curiosity on the part of … people like you.

    WTF? I’m not aware of anything I’ve said or written, here or elsewhere, that would justify you throwing that allegation at me. I’m mystified. Please do enlighten me.

    Maybe you’re not comfortable with my desire to wait until all the facts come in before I carelessly brand something “Islamic terrorism,” or engage in excessive conjecture about hows and whys and what-ifs, but that’s hardly born of a “complete lack of skeptical curiosity.”

    All I’m saying in this case is make absolutely all of the circumstances exactly the same except that the nut in question is an American protestant, and two things happen: (1) The story doesn’t become any less believable / more unbelievable; and (2) the question of religious motivation doesn’t get mentioned unless there’s a lot of evidence for it. But because this guy’s a foreign-born Muslim, the presumption is religious motivation until evidence against that rolls in. See the difference? Based on what you’ve written here, maybe not…

    In any case, it’s not a case of “breezily dismissing” any possibility, but of wanting to avoid carelessly alleging things.

    Guav:

    It’s not quite that simple, but it’s close. Nailing down a good working definition of what is or is not “terrorism” sounds like it ought to be easy, but turns out not to be. In addition to religious or political motivation, there’s also another component, wherein the victims are generally not the intended targets of the attack. The real target of 9/11, for example, wasn’t the WTC/Pentagon or the people in those buildings (especially in the case of the former), but rather the people who survived the attacks. Much like with the mafia, you’re not just killing people to kill them, but to send a message.

  11. tgirsch Says:

    Uncle:

    Oh, and what’s that little warning at the top of that Wiki link? 😉 I’d say it’s an indicator that the term “domestic Christian terrorist” is controversial, at least to some.

  12. persimmon Says:

    It’s not my delicate sensibilities that were offended. It’s the delicate sensibilities of the right-wing bedwetters desperate to justify the thousands of dead soldiers and trillion dollars sacrificed pacifying their irrational fears. Since the “war on terror” has been one miserable failure after another, they’re eager to glom onto any slim justification for their diapers.

    The notion that every newspaper and TV station in Utah is in cahoots with the national media is so monstrously stupid it is literal proof of the irrationality of which I speak. Is the local media in possibly the most conservative state in the union part of the vast left-wing media cabal? Did they all get the PC memos about how to coddle Muslims? Is every reporter in America trained ahead of time to not say “Muslim” so the entire media can snap into conspiracy mode at a moment’s notice?

    Or was the media merely focused on the immediacy of victims and events and witnesses before turning its attention to the dead shooter’s motivations? Were they a bit distracted by all the people and officials on the scene when they should have been hunting down the shooter’s family on the odd chance they could turn a crime bearing all the markings of an adolescent freak out into a battle scene in a global religious war?

    Shouldn’t the media be coddling halfwits desperate to not be Left Behind instead of halfwits desperate to cash in on their 72 virgins? This is America after all, and if we let 9/11 change us, the terrorists will have already, um, um. I forget, how did that go? My delicate sensibilities seem to have blocked it from my mind.

  13. SayUncle Says:

    While I do concur that some on the right seek to justify the war on terror, I don’t see that in this case.

    I mentioned that he was muslim and you let me have it. Just saying. I figure that’s why the press hasn’t really mentioned it.

  14. tgirsch Says:

    Uncle:

    That’s more than a little bit unfair. I don’t read anything in that original post or its comments as persimmon “letting you have it.” In any case, we’ve now given you plenty of reasons why the press didn’t mention it that don’t involve tin-foil hats and PC conspiracies. It was you who escalated with the “delicate sensibilities” snipe. From where I sit, persimmon’s criticism (1) is justified; and (2) is not aimed specifically and solely at you. Based on your (over)reaction, it seems he’s not the only one with “delicate sensibilities” here… 😉

  15. Captain Holly Says:

    it was quite clear from the many news stories … that his actions were motivated solely by his Christian beliefs

    And the words “terrorist” and “terrorism” were avoided, err, religiously, in those stories. That’s kind of my point.

    And his religion was highlighted as being central to his motivations, not dismissed as irrelevant…that’s my point.

    But because this guy’s a foreign-born Muslim, the presumption is religious motivation until evidence against that rolls in. See the difference? Based on what you’ve written here, maybe not…

    And I would argue that because he’s a Muslim, you’re just as eager to ignore it until you find an Al-Qaeda manual “101 Ways to Kill Infidels” in his closet.

    Kinda like a Rorshach test; you look at his background and say “It couldn’t be terrorism”; I look at it and say “Yes, it could”.

  16. SayUncle Says:

    Tom, true. He did not let me have it. Sorry there, persimmon.

    And, in all honesty, the delicate sensibilities thing was not specifically aimed at persimmon (so, again, sorry about that).

  17. Captain Holly Says:

    The notion that every newspaper and TV station in Utah is in cahoots with the national media is so monstrously stupid it is literal proof of the irrationality of which I speak. Is the local media in possibly the most conservative state in the union part of the vast left-wing media cabal? Did they all get the PC memos about how to coddle Muslims? Is every reporter in America trained ahead of time to not say “Muslim” so the entire media can snap into conspiracy mode at a moment’s notice?

    As one who has read both the Tribune and the Deseret News for most of my life, I can attest to their liberal bent. Hell, any Utah gun owner can.

    Or, to put it more delicately, you’re full of shit.

    Or was the media merely focused on the immediacy of victims and events and witnesses before turning its attention to the dead shooter’s motivations? Were they a bit distracted by all the people and officials on the scene when they should have been hunting down the shooter’s family on the odd chance they could turn a crime bearing all the markings of an adolescent freak out into a battle scene in a global religious war?

    No, the local media were investigating every angle about the shooting except the religion of the shooter, and even then they only mentioned it in passing a full 36 hours later. That is, until some people on the Intertubes pointed it out to them, whereupon their delicate sensitivities were offended and they went into full rebuttal mode.

    The kid was Muslim. He had ample reason to hate Christians. He tried to kill as many as he could before he got shot. Get over it.

  18. Lean Left » Blog Archive » Comment of the Day, 2007-02-15 Says:

    […] Commenter persimmon, here: It’s not my delicate sensibilities that were offended. It’s the delicate sensibilities of the right-wing bedwetters desperate to justify the thousands of dead soldiers and trillion dollars sacrificed pacifying their irrational fears. Since the “war on terror” has been one miserable failure after another, they’re eager to glom onto any slim justification for their diapers. […]

  19. tgirsch Says:

    Cap’n Holly:
    And his religion was highlighted as being central to his motivations, not dismissed as irrelevant…that’s my point.

    Gee, could that be because in Rudolph’s case, it clearly was central to his motivations? In this case, we have no evidence at all that religion was a primary motivator. Unless, of course, like many here (you included), you think that the fact that the religion in question is Islam is in and of itself evidence that religion was a primary motivator. It is that presumption to which “people like me” object.

    The kid was Muslim. He had ample reason to hate Christians. He tried to kill as many as he could before he got shot.

    Hmm, where have I heard this type of reasoning before? Oh, yeah, now I remember:

    With nuclear arms or a full arsenal of chemical and biological weapons, Saddam Hussein could resume his ambitions of conquest in the Middle East and create deadly havoc in that region. And this Congress and the America people must recognize another threat. Evidence from intelligence sources, secret communications, and statements by people now in custody reveal that Saddam Hussein aids and protects terrorists, including members of al Qaeda. Secretly, and without fingerprints, he could provide one of his hidden weapons to terrorists, or help them develop their own.

    See where highly speculative allegations get you? Nah, you probably think everything above was 100% BS-free…

  20. Captain Holly Says:

    With nuclear arms or a full arsenal of chemical and biological weapons, Saddam Hussein could resume his ambitions of conquest in the Middle East and create deadly havoc in that region. And this Congress and the America people must recognize another threat. Evidence from intelligence sources, secret communications, and statements by people now in custody reveal that Saddam Hussein aids and protects terrorists, including members of al Qaeda. Secretly, and without fingerprints, he could provide one of his hidden weapons to terrorists, or help them develop their own.

    Now let’s see, who said that first? Was it George Bush or Bill Clinton? Because both said essentially the same things using the same information.

    Let’s review the statements:

    Saddam Hussein had ambitions of conquest in the Middle East. True.

    With weapons of mass destruction, Saddam could fulfill his dreams. True.

    Intelligence sources from virtually every US and European agency agreed in 2003 that Saddam had chemical and biological weapons stashed in Iraq. True

    Saddam Hussein was not friendly to the US and had a history of supporting terrorists, and if he had WMD, he could supply them to groups unfriendly to the US. True.

    So where’s the BS? Most of what is written above is still factual, other than the fact that Saddam’s WMD programs were either dismantled or moribund in 2003 and most intelligence agencies overestimated his connections to Al-Qaeda. But I fail to see how that makes the above statement “highly speculative”, especially since Mr. Bush’s predecessor said the exact same things in 1998.

    In fact, what’s wrong with what I wrote? Sulejman Tolovic was a Muslim, he did have plenty of reasons to want to kill Christians, and he did shoot 9 of them with the intent to kill.

    Now you can argue that none of that means anything, and you may be right. But you might also be wrong. And I fail to see, given the evidence, how my speculation is any more irresponsible than your denials of the obvious. I guess the next time something like this happens, the shooter or bomber will have to yell “Allah Akhbar” before he starts killing people. But I suspect that even then you’ll quickly cover your eyes and say “nope, no terrorism here”.

  21. straightarrow Says:

    the delicate sensibilities of the right-wing bedwetters desperate to justify the thousands of dead soldiers and trillion dollars sacrificed pacifying their irrational fears.

    That is such crap!

    I don’t need to even tell you why, you can’t possibly be that stupid, so I am assuming you are dishonest.

    Perhaps it is the left wing bedwetters’ natural inclination to abandon those they send to battle while they are engaged? Their sensibilities are offended if by betraying the young men and women they sent garners them no political profit. Oh, and there is more evidence for that proposition than yours. At least three times in recent years have they done so and once again are attempting to do it. They love wading blood to the high office. They didn’t have any compunction about sending them. But they are willing to sacrifice those thousands of lives for naught, if they gain politically back here where they are safe. Fuck that!

  22. Karridine Says:

    CTD says,

    “So when jihadist killers loudly proclaim they are doing what they are doing precisely because it is there religious duty to do so (though so far as I know this guy hasn’t said so), I tend to believe them.”

    As do I.

    This killer let his actions speak for him.

    That there is more than sufficient prior examples (Islamic terrorism) and precedent (Islamic terrorism, Koranic verses, historical context) is ADDED PROOF, but the killer’s actions are, in themselves, sufficient proof of his belief system.

  23. tgirsch Says:

    Captain Holly:

    If you can provide any quote where Bill Clinton even implied that Saddam Hussein would give nuclear weapons to al-Qaeda, I’ll PayPal you a dollar. Ask Uncle, I’ll really do it.

    And as for what his predecessor said in 1998, it was to justify air strikes launched in 1998, which we now know were actually quite effective in destroying Hussein’s WMD capabilities.

    The problem with what you wrote is what you’re trying to imply. As with the president in 2003, you’re not just innocently stringing together unrelated facts. You’re trying to make connections between those facts, and it is those connections that are highly speculative. If the gunman had been Christian, would you automatically assume that he gunned those people down because he was a Christian? No, in the absence of any evidence to support that conclusion, you wouldn’t. But the fact that the gunman was Muslim is evidence enough for you to implicate Islam in the killings.

    As commenter Janusz at my site points out, this incident on its surface appears to have a lot more in common with Columbine than with 9/11.