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Fiddling with Facts for Islam
by Hugh Fitzgerald
A site called “Bells and Whistles” published this article that is worth examining in detail, as it is indicative of certain prevailing assumptions.
American Muslims do not seem to carry with them the deep seeded [sic for “seated”] hatred of peace which you argue is systemic within Islam. If we look at the ten most deadly shootings in US history, it is quite revealing:
- Orlando, FL (2016)–Omar Mateen, Muslim
- Blackburg, VA (2007)–Seung-Hui Cho, Christian
- Newtown, CT (2012)–Adam Lanza, Religion unknown
- San Bernadino (2015)–Syed Farook & Tashfeen Malik, Muslim
- Binghamton, NY (2009)–Jiverly Wong, Religion unknown
- Killeen, TX (2009)–Nidal Hasan, Muslim
- Aurora, CO (2012)–James Holmes, Religion unknown
- Washington Navy Yard (2013)–Aaron Alexis, Buddhist
- Charleston, SC (2015)–Dylann Roof, Christian
- Roseburg, Oregon (2015)–Christopher Sean Harper-Mercer, Christian
It would be hard, based on this list, to make the argument that Islam is an inherently violent religion where the others are not.
Would it? This kind of exculpation of Islam through fact-fiddling is to be found all over the Internet, and if you don’t give it a thought, or more accurately, if you don’t want to be bothered to think (and the mountains of fact and falsehood and a mixture of both, on the Internet, and not just about Islam, can often make you feel that way), you might indeed be persuaded, or wearily accept the notion, that Islam is not “an inherently violent religion where the others are not.”
There is more than one way, however, to analyze this data. We might note, for example, that while Muslims make up 1% of the American population, they are responsible for three out of ten, or 30%, of the ten most deadly shooting attacks in America. Or we could also conclude, from the same data, that “Muslims, who make up 1% of the American population, are responsible for 50% of the six most deadly shooting attacks.” That paints an even more disturbing picture of Muslim violence. And if we were offered a list not of the ten deadliest shootings, but of the ten deadliest terrorist attacks (not limited to shootings) in the last half-century, we would find that 80% of them were carried out by Muslims at a time when they constituted even fewer than 1% of the population.
Or let’s take another look at the information above, and see how accurate are the descriptions and relevance of the religious beliefs assigned to the attackers. The attacks by the four clearly identifiable Muslims were, in each case, according to their perpetrators, prompted by Islam. Omar Mateen in Orlando pledged support to the Islamic State (and, at other times, to Al Qaeda and Hezbollah); his attack on the Pulse Nightclub (that catered to homosexuals) was not random, for homosexuality is prohibited in Islam. Muhammad says: “If you find anyone doing as Lot’s people did, kill the one who does it, and the one to whom it is done.” (Abu Dawud 38:4447) He was, then, carrying out a punishment mandated by Muhammad. Of course, there are reports that Mateen had visited the club several times before the attack. He might have been casing the joint for a planned attack on Infidels. Or he may, as some who knew him suggest, have been a closet or practicing homosexual. But if he were the latter, he no doubt felt tremendous guilt, as a Muslim, and decided by way of expiation (either for his longings or his behavior), to win back Allah’s approval, and what better way than to target the Pulse Nightclub’s patrons who were homosexuals and, as an added bonus, Infidels to boot. Whatever the case, this was an attack prompted by the felt need to follow the teachings of Islam on homosexuality.
Major Nidal Malik Hasan, the gunman in the Fort Hood massacre, was similarly acting according to, not despite, his religious beliefs. He had been in frequent contact by email with Anwar al-Awlaki, the Al-Qaeda propagandist who left the U.S. for Yemen, had searched online for articles about Jihad in the days just before his attack, and for years had made critical comments about non-Muslims, and about American policies in the Middle East, that were deemed worrisome by many of his army colleagues (but not, alas, to those higher-up officers who in official reports gave him fulsome and politically correct praise). As he attacked, Hasan yelled the Muslim war cry of “Allahu akbar” – the supremacist “My God (Allah) is greater than yours.” While the Pentagon initially (and preposterously) described Hasan’s attack as a “workplace accident,” and it took President Obama six years after the event to properly recognize it as an act of terrorism, everything about Major Hasan’s conduct shows that he considered his planned act as violent Jihad against the Infidels, sanctioned by Islam.
Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife Tashfeen Malik opened fire on fellow workers at a work-related meeting and Christmas party in San Bernardino. The FBI determined that they were “homegrown violent extremists” reading about the duty of violent Jihad on the Internet. They had exchanged email messages “about Jihadism and martyrdom” prior to marriage. They were clearly acting on the promptings of Islam. As FBI Director James B. Comey testified, “the FBI’s investigation had revealed that the perpetrators were ‘consuming poison on the Internet’ and both had become radicalized ‘before they started courting or dating each other online.'” They planned for more than a year to attack a gathering of Infidels; they finally chose as their target the semiannual staff meeting and Christmas party of their fellow workers at the San Bernardino Department of Public Health. This gave them the opportunity they had been waiting for — to attack a large group of Infidels gathered in one room (a banquet hall); one suspects that the fact that a Christmas party was part of that event may also have contributed to their choice of target.
We have the testimony of his family members and co-workers that Farook was an observant Sunni Muslim. A local Islamic Center’s director said that Farook “stood out as especially devout.” Farook’s own father testified that his son “shared the ideology of Al-Baghdadi to create an Islamic state” and that he was fixated on Israel. He travelled to Saudi Arabia several times, and completed the hajj in 2013. Everything about Syed Rizwan Farook suggests a dedicated warrior for Islam. As for his wife, it has been reported that Tashfeen Malik pledged bay’ah (allegiance) to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS, on a Facebook account associated with her as the attack was underway. Later reports described the posting as being made on behalf of both shooters. That was one more bit of evidence that this attack was clearly motivated by Islamic belief (and not, as some might have wanted to describe it, an attack by disgruntled employees going postal).
When we look at the seven non-Muslim attackers, however, a different picture emerges as to the role of religion. The Bells and Whistles site identifies three shooters as “Religion unknown,” three as “Christian,” and one as “Buddhist.” Does this accurately describe reality? Adam Lanza, Jiverly Wong, and James Holmes appear not to have had any current connection to, or interest in, any religion, at the time of their attacks. Instead of ambiguously describing them as “Religion unknown,” the proper description under religion should have been “None.”
And when we look into their biographies all three had been suffering, for years, from profound mental illness.
Adam Lanza, the Newtown shooter, who killed his mother just before he went to a school and riddled a classroom with bullets, had been exhibiting signs of serious mental illness beginning in the eighth grade. A report by Yale psychiatrists, based on a comprehensive examination of the medical and school histories of Mr. Lanza, 20, concluded that he was “completely untreated in the years before the shooting” for psychiatric and physical ailments like anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder, and was also deprived of recommended services and drugs.
In 2010 he broke off relations with almost everyone, secluded himself in his bedroom, where he played violent video games and obsessed over mass murderers. At no time did he display any interest in religion. His attack on the school – and, just before it, the murder of his mother – were the result of his obvious insanity.
Jiverly Wong, a 41-year-old ethnic Chinese immigrant from Vietnam, mailed a letter to the world the same day he entered a classroom in Binghamton, N.Y., where English lessons to foreigners were being given, and killed twelve people. His letter deserves to be read in full, as a clear indication of his craziness:
I AM JiVERLY WONG SHOOTING THE PEOPLE
THE FiRST I WANT TO SAY SORRY I KNOW A LiTTLE ENGLiSH I HOPE YOU UNDERSTAND ALL OF THiS. OF COURSE YOU NEED TO KNOW WHY I SHOOTING? BECAUSE UNDERCOVER COP GAVE ME A LOT OF ASS DURiNG EiGHTEEN YEARS. I GOT SEVEN YEARS AND EiGHT MONTH DELiVERY TO GROCERY IN THE CALiFORNiA. CAME BACK NEW YORK ON THE AUGUST – 2007. LET TALK ABOUT WHEN I LiVE IN CALiFORNiA. SUCH AS. . .COP USED 24 HOURS THE TECHNiQUE OF ULTRAMODERN AND CAMERA FOR BURN THE CHEMiCAL IN MY HOUSE. FOR SWiTCH THE CHANNEL Ti.Vi. FOR ADJUST THE FAN. FOR MADE ME UNBREATHBLE. FOR MADE ME VOMiT. FOR CONNECT THE MUSiC INTO MY EAR.
UNDERCOVER COP USUAL COiNED SOME NASTY WAS NOT TRUE ABOUT ME AND SPREAD A RUMOUR TO THE RECEiVER AND SOME PEOPLE KNOW ME CONDUCE TOWARD MANY PEOPLE PREJUDiCED AND SELFiSH TO ME . . . COP MADE ME LOST MY JOB . . . COP PUT ME BECAME POOR.
LET TALK ABOUT WHEN I LiVE AT THE 28.BAKER . ST. 2ND FLOOR. JOHNSON CiTY. NEW YORK 13790. IT TERRiBLE WHEN I LiVE THERE SUCH AS. . COP WAiT UNTiL MiDNiGHT WHEN I OFF THE LiGHT AND WENT TO THE BED. COP UNLOCK MY DOOR AND CAME IN TAKE A SiT IN MY ROOM <> ON THE THiRTEEN TiME HAD THREE TiME TOUCH ME WHEN I SLEEPiNG. ONE TiME STOLEN 20 DOLLAR IN MY WALLET ONE TiME USED ELECTRiC GUN SHOOT AT THE BEHiND MY NECK. (THAT TiME I DiD NOT KNOW ENGLiSH)
PLEASE CONTiNUE SECOND PAGE THANK YOU.
FROM 1990 TO 1995 NEW YORK UNDERCOVER COP TRY TO GET A CAR ACCiDENT WiTH ME. SUCH AS WHEN I DRiViNG ON THE HiGHWAY AND ON THE STREET UNDERCOVER COP SUNDDENLY BRAKE THE CAR STOP IMMEDiATELY AT THE OF FRONT MY CAR . . . COP DiD IT 32 TiME LiKE THAT DURiNG 1990 TO 1995 BUT I NEVER HiT THE CAR.
MANY TiME FROM 1990 TO 1997 AT THE DAY TiME . . . COP EXPLOiT UNKNON ENGLiSH AND WENT TO MY HOUSE KNOCK THE DOOR FOR HARASS AND DOMiNEER. OF COURSE DURiNG THAT TiME COP COiNED SOMETHiNG WAS NOT TRUE ABOUT ME AND SPREAD A RUMOUR NASTY LiKE THE CALiFORNiA COP.
FROM AUGUST – 2007 UNTiL NOW COP GAVE ME NOT TO MUCH ASS ONLY ONE TiME COP LEAVE A MASSAGE IN MY VOiCE MAiL AND SAiD << COME BACK YOUR COUNTRY >> AFTER FIVE MiNUTE I SEND A TEXT MASSAGE TO THEM I SAiD I WILL CALL THE POLiCE AND THEY SEND IT BACK TO ME THEY SAiD THEY ARE THE POLiCE
DEAR. NEW TEN NOW. RiGHT NOW I STiLL GET UNEMPLOMENT BENEFiT OF THE COMPANY SHOP VAC ENDiCOTT. NEW YORK STATE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR WAS CHEAT AND UNPAiD FROM DECEMBER – 1st – 2008 TO DECEMBER – 28th – 2008. I ALREADY CLAiM WEEKLY BENEFiT FROM THAT DATE. ANY WAY I CAN NOT ACCEPTED MY POOR LiFE. BEFORE I CUT MY POOR LiFE I MUST ONESELF GET A JUDGE JOB FOR MAKE AN IMPARTiAL WiTH UNDERCOVER COP BY AT LEAST TWO PEOPLE WiTH ME GO TO RETURN TO THE DUST OF EARTH.
ALREADY IMPARTiAL NOW. . .COP BRiNG ABOUT THiS SHOOTiNG COP MUST RESPONSiBLE. AND YOU HAVE A NiCE DAY.
James Holmes, like Lanza and Wong, was similarly subject to the demons of mental illness, and had been making homicidal statements in the months preceding his attack on a movie audience. There is no indication that as an adult he was ever religious, though as a child he was taken to church. None of the three gave the slightest sign of religious belief at the time of their attacks, nor — aside from childhood churchgoing — is there the slightest evidence of religion anywhere in their backgrounds. There have, however, been many stories — not confirmed — that in prison, Holmes converted to Islam, now prays five times a day, and has interpreted his attack on the Aurora theatre as a kind of Jihad, and his victims as Infidels deserving of their fate.
As for the one attacker on the list above, Aaron Alexis, who is identified by Bells and Whistles as “Buddhist,” he was a curious convert, one who did not seem particularly devout, whom friends described as being mainly “into it for Thai women.”
His Thai Buddhist employer reminded those who interviewed him that the first principle of Buddhism is non-violence. Buddhist he may have considered himself, but Aaron Alexis never claimed that he thought killing anyone was commanded by, or would further, the Buddhist faith, which clearly distinguished him from the Muslim killers Mateen, Farook, Malik, and Hasan, who thought that their attacks were according to, and in furtherance of, the teachings of Islam. And, like every single one of the non-Muslims on this list, Alexis had a history of mental illness.
Then there are the three attackers described as “Christian” by Bells and Whistles. The first is Seung Hui-Cho. True, he was as a child taken to church, but as an adult he not only had no connection to the faith but, indeed, denigrated Christianity. One of his roommates reported that “he hated his parents’ strong Christian faith.” And like so many of the non-Muslim attackers on the list, he exhibited signs of mental illness early on, and was under the care of a psychiatrist beginning in the eighth grade. At Virginia Tech, he ranted about “rich kids” and “debauchery” as his mental state steadily deteriorated; he was removed from classes for his “intimidating” manner; he found it almost impossible to talk normally to anyone; he seldom talked at all; he was said to suffer from “selective mutism.” If he was no longer even a nominal Christian, if he despised Christianity, if he ranted against his parents’ strong faith, then on what grounds can he possibly be described as a “Christian”?
As for Dylann Roof, he is the young white supremacist who wanted to start a race war by attacking an African-American congregation in Charleston, S.C.. His life was unedifying; he spent his time, as a school dropout who could not or would not hold a job, taking drugs and playing video games. He was “on the rolls” of an Evangelical Lutheran congregation, which he apparently attended regularly. It is possible to describe his religion as “Christian,” though he did not anywhere invoke Christianity as commanding his murderous attack, the way that Mateen, Malik, Farook, and Hasan invoked Islam as both the reason and the justification for their violence
Finally, there is Christopher Sean Harper-Mercer, responsible for the massacre at Umpqua Community College, and also described at the Bells and Whistle site as a “Christian.” This is perhaps the most outrageous of that site’s many mischaracterizations. Harper-Mercer not only hated organized religion, but he was especially angry at Christians. When he entered the room at Umpqua Community College, he “ordered the students to stand up and asked if they were Christians, Boylan [one of the victims] told her family. “And they would stand up and he said, ‘Good, because you’re a Christian, you’re going to see God in just about one second,’” Boylan’s father, Stacy, told CNN, relaying her account. “And then he shot and killed them.” Other survivors of the Umpqua shooting corroborated this, telling relatives that Harper Mercer asked people whether they were Christian or not. Anyone who responded “yes” was shot in the head and those who said “other” or didn’t answer were shot elsewhere in the body, said Autumn Vicari, whose brother was in the classroom.
Furthermore, apparently Christopher Sean Harper-Mercer listed only two connections on his MySpace. One was a girl, and the other a man named Mahmoud Ali Ehsani, who had posted online an album with pictures of Islamic terrorists; one caption reads “my brave soldiers keep on fighting for the liberation of Palestine against Israel. fuck israel. Kill the jews. jews are the only infidels.”
If you had to describe Harper-Mercer’s sympathies, they would certainly not be with Christians (whom he shot in the head because they were Christians) or Christianity, but with his only male friend, Mahmoud Ali Ehsani, and that friend’s fanatical Muslim beliefs.
To sum up: of the ten deadliest shootings in the U.S., involving eleven shooters, at least four of the eleven, or 36%, were observant Muslims, who wrote and spoke of their devotion to Islam, and their desire to kill Infidels. Omar Mateen, Nidal Hasan, Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik were acting according to their Islamic beliefs. A fifth, Christopher Sean Harper-Mercer, who like the four Muslim shooters was consumed with hatred for Christianity, tried deliberately to kill only Christians, while only wounding non-Christians.. A sixth, James Holmes, may have converted to Islam in prison as a way to Islamically justify his attack after the fact, suggesting he understood that Islam commanded violence against Infidels. A seventh was an unorthodox convert to Buddhism, who with his attack violated the central tenet of his faith. Three more – an eighth, ninth, and tenth – were listed as having no religion at all. Two of the three listed as “Christian” by Bells and Whistles — Seung-Hui Cho and Christopher Sean Harper-Mercer — were violently opposed to Christianity. Only the eleventh, Dylann Roof, could be described as a devout Christian and churchgoer; as a mass-killer he acted in clear violation of, rather than in accordance with, of, the tenets of Christianity.
And to repeat, every single one of the seven non-Muslims on this list had an extensive record of severe mental illness. Perhaps you may be tempted to conclude (and I know the feeling) that Islam, too, is a form of mental illness. Would that it were that easy to dismiss.
Bells and Whistles concluded that “it would be hard, based on this list, to make the argument that Islam is an inherently violent religion where the others are not.” No, it would be easy to do so, if one actually examined the express motivations of the four devout Muslim shooters. It would be even easier if one looked up the 109 Jihad verses in the Qur’an and then sought to find anything similar in the Christian holy books, and came up, as one would, empty-handed. And if one compared, say, the Sermon on the Mount with Sura 9, it would be easier still to conclude that the violence that is everywhere deplored in Christianity is everywhere exalted in Islam.
But none of this will stop the propaganda campaign that so easily twists every text, and distorts every datum. Sighting and righting these factual wrongs becomes a kind of whack-a-mole, but it’s a task that must be undertaken, lest the miasma of misinformation fill our brains with hemidemisemi truths, or plausible sounding outright lies. So with every site that you may run across that’s in the same dishonest vein as Bells and Whistles, please start whacking.
First published in Jihad Watch.