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Chapel Hill Murders: Between A Simplistic Media And Human Complexity

via. Inagist

via. CraigConsandinetcd.com

By Garibaldi

The shock I felt following the execution style killings of Chapel Hill students Deah Barakat, Yusor Abu Salha and Razan Abu Salha has made it hard to write. These murders represent a low point: murders upon murders have left my heart paralyzed and I know I am not the only one, many of us feel this way. I question how much we are doing here and how much we have accomplished on Loonwatch.

Every week, more than ever, we seem to be hurled from one crisis to the next: the destruction of Gaza and thousands of its innocent lives, attacks on a Kosher market in Paris, a satirical/Islamophobic tabloid, the burning alive of a Jordanian pilot, the burning alive of a teenage Yemeni boy in a US drone attack, attacks on a Synagogue in Copenhagen, impending war in Iraq, the murders at Chapel Hill, the beheading of 21 Coptic Christians, and the many untold murders taking place everyday in our cities, along the US-Mexico border, in Central Africa, Nigeria, South Sudan and many other places I am unable to recount in this short space.

Media Hypocrisy and Double Standards

These events however do highlight the double standards and hypocrisy of media reporting, in which some lives matter more than others and many facts that matter are either ignored or conveniently dismissed.

Interestingly, Russell Brand, a sort of jester-philosopher, has proven to be far more engaging and nuanced in his breakdown of the media through his YouTube channel, Trews News, than most of what passes today for media criticism.

In his most recent episode of Trews News, Brand deconstructs media coverage of Chapel Hill by comparing it with attacks in Denmark:

Chapel Hill Vs. Copenhagen: Which is terrorism? Russell Brand, The Trews (E257)

He points out the reinforcement in the media of narratives about Muslims as dangerous terrorists and Islam as the culprit of evil ideas that along with its votaries are the chief threats to “Western values.” This is in contrast to the way Craig Hicks was depicted, a man who we were immediately told (after an initial media silence on the story until Twitter users picked it up) was simply motivated by some strange and inexplicable rage over a parking space.

A lot of ink was spilled to indicate how gentle he was, how he supported gay rights, religious freedom and even loved puppies. His atheism/anti-theism many have argued was inconsequential and not a factor in his killings. Care was taken to say and repeat, ad nauseum, that either this had nothing to do with religion or, in fact, there was something else behind the reason why Hicks just went ‘haywire’ and murdered his Muslim neighbors: perhaps he was radicalized by a movie or he was just a gun nut.

The Simplistic vs. the Complex: The Case of Bill Maher on Muslim Americans

This brings me to my point: when non-Muslims, specifically Whites carry out murders such as these, media coverage tends to look beyond superficiality and digs into complexity. Muslim perpetrators (and often victims as well) of violence are denied this complexity; Islam/Islamism/Muslim cultures are simply to blame.

Take one instructional example that parallels in many ways the events in Chapel Hill. When Bridges TV owner Muzzammil Hassan killed his wife, Bill Maher had a whole segment about the murder on Real Time.

Hassan, gruesomely killed his wife by murdering her with what Maher described in racialized tones as a “scimitar.” Maher, would repeat the line about the scimitar again during the segment and also did a cartoonish ‘Arab’ accent (even though Hassan was Pakistani-American), while swinging an imagined sword in the air in a mock imitation of Hasan killing his wife (all for cheap laughs).

To drive the points home that this was a unique Islamic murder, a degree worse than murders perpetrated by “red-blooded White American males,” and that there are no trustworthy Muslim Americans he had Islamophobe Brigitte Gabriel on the show as a special guest:

Bill Maher: He [Hasan] ran a TV station specifically to highlight how Moslems are being misconstrued in the public eye [audience laughter]…(laughs)…and then he cuts her head off with a sword…(laughs)…and so I wanted to have this lady come on and comment on this. I read about her many times, she is the founder of ACT! For America and author of They Must Be Stopped: Why We Must Defeat Radical Islam And How We Can Do It. Please Welcome Brigitte Gabriel. [applause].”

Now this scares people because people think here’s a guy living in America 25 years, he’s assimilated, we can trust him and then he takes a giant sword off the wall and cuts his wife’s head off.
(emphasis mine)

Maher implies here that Muslims, even those who you may know and are living exemplary lives, are untrustworthy, to be feared and a fifth column.

Now enter Gabriel to jump all over Maher’s offering:

Brigitte Gabriel: That’s right…[audience laughter]…and then he is touted as the exemplatory moderate Moslem who actually started Bridges TV which is an Islamic television to clean up the image of Islam. And what does he do? He beheads his wife, calls the police bragging about how he cut her head off and the police shows up and there’s the lady laying on the floor, in the TV station that they founded together and her head is next to her body and this guy did it in the name of honor. This is what we call a moderate Muslim businessman in the United States, it’s frightening. [audience hoots] (emphasis mine)

Maher: Well say what you really think…[audience laughter]

Gabriel: You can’t even make this stuff up.

Maher: I know.

Gabriel on Maher's Real Time.

Gabriel on Maher’s Real Time.

Be afraid, be afraid of Muslims anywhere and everywhere we are being told. They cannot be trusted. I wonder if that crossed Craig Hicks mind while he plotted and planned the murder of his Muslim neighbors?

Next, Maher asks the obvious question, why is this murder different than other instances of domestic violence?

Maher: Let me ask you the other question: C’mon there are red-blooded White Americans who strangle their wives and OJ killed his wife with a knife, it wasn’t a giant sword, you know. What about the argument that this is just bigotry towards the Moslems to extrapolate all of this from this incident?

Gabriel: No, it’s very different and I have to make it very clear that I do come from the Middle East, I am an Arabic woman from Lebanon and this is strictly an Islamic practice and here’s the difference: when Westerners in the West kill their wives they usually kill their wife and run away, they try to hide the problem, they try to lie, they try to hide the evidence, [audience laughter] they do not call the police and brag about how they killed her. [audience laughter] You know there’s a major difference there. [audience applause] (emphasis mine)

Maher is asking Gabriel to give some reasons to justify the preset conclusion that they have already made regarding the murder; that it is “Islamic.” First, I’d like to point out that it’s quite funny to hear Gabriel say she is an “Arabic woman” when she has repeated in the past that Arabs are “barbarians” who “have no soul.” I guess when it is beneficial, why not be Arab, especially if it will give you supposed credibility to bash Arabs and Muslims.

In any case, we are to believe that this is an “Islamic murder” and worse than when non-Muslims kill because the guy allegedly bragged about it! This is so idiotic that even Maher has to make the obvious quip that well, it doesn’t make much of a difference to a dead wife.

Maher: [laugheter] But that doesn’t make that much of a difference to the wife…[laughter]…[applause]…You think he had that scimitar up on the wall just as a conversation piece?…[laughter]…(Ay-rab voice)“I keep it up there to remind me how far we come.” And then one day the wifey went too far, and he went: ‘bitch you are (makes sword cutting motion)’…and cut her head off.

Although, Maher makes this slight joke, he is still all in on leading the racist, anti-Arab, Islamophobic train of hate that imputes Hassan’s actions as a consequence of Islam and Muslim culture.

Next, Gabriel in her quintessential ditzy fashion tears down all her earlier claims that this was an “Islam” inspired murder by contradicting her assertion that Hassan was (her words) “an exemplatory moderate Muslim.”

In fact, he had a serial history of domestic abuse, as she herself acknowledges.:

Gabriel: Yea…off with her head. Listen this is a premeditated, calculated murder. She has reported many times domestic abuse and remember this is his third wife and the other two left him because of domestic abuse because he was beating them. This lady wanted to leave him because she was fearing for her life and finally he killed her and it’s a tragedy and I thank you for bringing it to light because no one in the mainstream media is covering the story.

Maher: I know. You start a TV station to highlight how moderate the Moslems are and you make one mistake. [laughter]

Maher, caps the surreal segment with a buffoonish reassertion of the theme that in his back-and-forth with Gabriel he’s been driving home from the beginning: “Moslems” by definition cannot be trusted.

Not only is this rhetoric the type that shapes Western cultural attitudes (Real Time has millions of viewers worldwide), it contributes to an environment where Muslim lives are dehumanized, suspect and not worthy of the same respect as other citizens. It is no wonder that behaviors such as hate crimes, discriminatory laws and police practices, as well as invasions of whole nations are normative and accepted.

It also highlights how simplistic answers and mono-causal reasons (Islam/Muslim culture) are forwarded when Muslims are involved in violence: whether it is domestic violence related, as in the case of Hassan, or the shootings perpetrated in Denmark by Omar El-Hussein, a young man who had a history of violence.

Man Kills Three Muslim Students At University Of North CarolinaIt is not surprising that the week of the Chapel Hill murders, Bill Maher made no mention of them on his program. No doubt he was uncomfortable, maybe in the back of his head he just couldn’t compute how an avowed anti-theist and self-proclaimed militant atheist (much like himself) could commit these grisly and horrid murders.

Why didn’t he, as he did with Hassan’s murder, deride Hicks’ faith based beliefs? Couldn’t he do a segment about how Hicks was an “exemplatory” citizen for 55 years of his life and then all of a sudden, out of nowhere, he took those “conversation pieces” (dozens of guns) down and for some inexplicable (insert: anti-theism) reason used them to murder his neighbors?

No, he can’t because it doesn’t jibe with his belief in muscular “9/11 liberalism” and his confident hatred of Islam as the “worst of the worst.” He can’t because he won’t countenance his particular sect, New-Atheism, being twisted in this manner. Maybe, it also makes him uncomfortable because it highlights the fact that human beings are not simplistic beings but complex and that maybe there are many reasons and factors driving them to do good and horrible things.

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  • Vicky Elm

    Excellent article and refreshing, I held this unfair issue on my heart. I feel you, Gari. I feel you.

  • Lithium2006

    His facebook posts blow your point out of the water.

  • Tanveer ¯_(ツ)_/¯ Khan

    Eh?

  • HSkol

    You forgot “eh” at the end of your observation, eh.

  • Tanveer ¯_(ツ)_/¯ Khan

    Canadians. They must be.

  • Islamic doctrine does not mandate to kill the people of the book or the “keffirs” or anyone else for that matter unless or until if anyone of those people have committed a crime worthy of that punishment. That crime is usually murder, molestation or something of the nature where one individual has harmed another individual seriously. The crime does not include “being of a certain faith”.

  • Solid Snake

    Yep, Yep that one was on me, I misread the whole situation. My mistake, wont happen again………

    😀

  • HSkol

    Well, now I just feel absolutely terrible for you two! Could you all just fight, please?

  • Just_Stopping_By

    There’s way too much quasi-apologizing going on here for a discussion in which no one was ever offended or felt bad!

  • Mehdi

    We Moroccans are weird, we say khouya

  • Solid Snake

    Cool 😀 Thanks akhi (or achi if you’re into that kind of spelling. )

  • Mehdi

    It’s not as if it was a problem. I saw this several times, discussions between friends where the tone rises and then someone says “guys, we all agree here” :-

  • Solid Snake

    “But you seemed to debate as if you didn’t have the same views”

    That’s my mistake, I was specifically debating the hypothetical anti-theist in JSBs first paragraph, I guess my wording made it seem I was debating JSB.

  • Mehdi

    Not at all. But you seemed to debate as if you didn’t have the same views. But no issue at all… Quite the contrary.

  • Solid Snake

    Lol. Thanks. Take care. Till next time….

    https://i.imgur.com/t5aorcU.png

  • HSkol

    Sorry to have misled you – I’m simply storing it all up. I’ll explode into a ball of rage, contempt, etc. in no time – that is quite obvious, isn’t it? And, I’ll use a swear word. And, further yet, I won’t apologize for my behavior (or as Tanveer would say “behaviour”).

    OK, who am I kidding? Thanks for see me for who I am. Take care.

  • Solid Snake

    http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_eFr5brgFqjY/SgHt-05VnaI/AAAAAAAAAg8/K8VXJpPF2mo/s400/090507_034512.jpg

    Who said I wasn’t pointing fingers at you >:D

    Dont be silly, I know that, the mere fact that you are here discussing these issue with us without exploding into a ball of rage, contempt, and attempted humor at the expense of religious people (especially those who have no access to education or health care etc etc in 3rd world countries) tells us you are not an anti-theist 😀

  • HSkol

    I know, silly Snake. If anyone at all has read your posts, they should know as well. I certainly know you’re not pointing fingers at me (not anti-theist, of course). 🙂

  • Solid Snake

    We are in agreement, good sir.

    And for the record, for people not familiar with my posts, I am specifically talking about anti-theists who follow Maher despite his betrayal of the values they claim to cherish.

  • HSkol

    Snake, just to get a simple thought in here, any and all groups do of course have their most vocal members – the rabid football or soccer fan types. Beyond that, there are the cheerleaders – those that don’t so often thoroughly think things through, but jump off the side of the cliff because, hey, everyone else in their little group is doing it. As well, the cheerleaders tend to defend with far more force than one might guess they would, since their convictions are often far less personal and internal than they are “imposed” upon them by their “leaders”. Thankfully, of course, there are those that we are perhaps unfortunately less likely to notice – the well reasoned, with any group/tribe/clique/etc. – the humane, the thoughtful, the tolerant.

  • Solid Snake

    Look, if I want to be unnecessarily perplexed, then I will be unnecessarily perplexed!

  • Solid Snake

    Yes, I understand that every group does it. The only reason I am perplexed, maybe that isn’t quite the right word for it, is because their whole shtick, for lack of a better word, is that they are more rational, logical, and far more intelligent than commoners who believe in fairy-tales. I am not surprised that a group of people would show favoritism to their own kind, I am merely surprised that they would easily abandon the very principles around which they have constructed their identity. Whats more annoying is that these Maher types are totally oblivious to this fact, or they dont seem to care and instead selectively use enlightenment values when it suits them. Especially seeing how ruthless they are even at the slightest mention of religion or God.

    For the record I feel exactly the same about Muslims, Christians, Jews, etc who claim to be pious and merciful and then judge others harshly while hiding or supporting the wrongdoings of their coreligionists.

  • Just_Stopping_By

    No, not confrontational at all. Just … unnecessarily perplexed.

  • Just_Stopping_By

    “But I am just perplexed at the dogmatic anti-theists who are quick to condemn and ridicule the religious but are suddenly forgiving when it comes to their group.”

    You’re perplexed that they display the same sort of favoritism that dogmatic members of pretty much every group do? You are sure easily perplexed.

  • Solid Snake

    Yes, I know 😀

    Why, did come off as confrontational or something? My bad, didnt mean to.

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