Thursday, October 24, 2002

Is Race Really An Issue???

Believe it or not, in the wake of the arrests of suspected DC snipers John A. Muhammed and Lee Malvo, some are already making much ado about the race of these two losers, indulging in some rather needless and IMHO misguided speculation bordering on race-baiting.

See for example this article on another weblog site: Two Black Men Arrested in the Beltway Sniper Case

For some "reason" or other, the article writer "wonders" (emphasis via italics in the original), "Call me Mr. Cynic, but when I heard the news, the first thought that came to mind was I wonder how many paragraphs into their lead story it will take before the New York Times identifies the race of the arrested individuals."

The writer goes on to assert that members "of a Black Muslim group called Jamaat al-Fuqra ...may have been involved in the kidnapping and murder of journalist Daniel Pearl." But he offers not a shred of evidence to support his speculation that any "Black Muslims" or any "Black Muslim" groups were involved in the Pearl case.

In fact, the article on this group to which he provides a link says only this regarding that group's membership (emphasis mine):

"...a terrorist outfit operating in Pakistan and North America, was formed by a Pakistani cleric, Sheikh Mubarak Ali Gilani, in New York in 1980, on his first visit to the US. Mubarak Gilani's intention in forming the outfit was to 'purify' Islam through violence ...Muslims of the Americas, a tax-exempt group established in the US in 1980 by Gilani, operates communes of primarily black, American-born Muslims in many states in the US, including in Binghamton in New York, Badger in California, York in South California and Red House in Virginia. JF is reportedly linked through court documents to the Muslims of Americas. There is also a road in the name of Sheikh Gilani in the vicinity of Virginia. The cult houses between 100 and 200 people, many of them women and children in about 20 huge trailers. There is also a Virginia newspaper, the Islamic Post, founded by Sheikh Gilani."

The last time I looked, Pakistan was not an African ("Black") country and Pakistani clerics were not "Black Muslims." In fact, the vast majority of Pakistanis are of the same races as their neighbors, Afghanistan and India (of which Pakistan was once a part). As for the point that Sheikh Gilani's North American branch is composed of "primarily black, American-born Muslims," so what? How does this "prove" or even indicate a likelihood they were involved in the Pearl kidnapping and murder? EVIDENCE PLEASE! Idle speculation based on little more than one's imagination simply will not do.

As for the suspected (and IMO most likely actual) DC snipers, while it's true that both are black --Muhammed is African-American and Malvo is Jamaican-- on what grounds does the aforementioned weblog writer imply that they were racially motivated or that their race was the determining factor in their actions? After all, at least half their victims were non-whites, including at least one African-American, Hispanic, and Asian. They also shot men and women alike, and one child as well.

And let's not forget that Oklahoma bomber Timothy McVeigh was neither "Black" nor "Muslim," and like the DC snipers killed people of all races, genders, and ages.

IOW, like McVeigh, the bastards who had been murdering and wounding innocent bystanders in the Washington DC area were equal opportunity assassins. But could they, like McVeigh, have been motivated by racism as well as, like McVeigh, anti-democratic and anti-pluralistic views? Of course. But thus far they gave no indication at all that they were motivated by race issues, nor --least of all-- by the fact that they were black. After all, like McVeigh, they killed people of their own race.

In what way, therefore, is the race of the DC sniper suspects at all relevant? Perhaps instead of being coy by dancing around that question, the weblog writer should be straightforward and tell the rest of us precisley why "identi[fying] the race of the arrested individuals" is so damn important to him.

Just MHO.

[EDITOR'S UPDATE: In his reply on his weblog to the commentary above, the aforementioned weblog writer explained the intent behind his comments: Apparently he was merely expressing his exasperation with those media outlets who identify the race of white perpetrators whose victims are minorities while at the same time withholding the racial identity of those perpetrators whose victims are white, even when their crimes turn out to be racially motivated. In our view, his explanation seems quite reasonable and not at all racially motivated. However, one can bet one's next paycheck that not all those who make a point of focusing on the race of the DC snipers will do so out of similarly respectable motives. Nevertheless, we humbly stand corrected.]

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