Random acts of respect for a random killer

Shortly after Danish police killed terrorist Abdel Hamid El-Hussein, flowers appeared at the site where he was shot. Hussein had killed two people and wounded others in two random shooting incidents. His first random target was a forum on free speech; his second was a synagogue.

Not long after the flowers appeared, a dozen or so men appeared at the site. Declaring themselves Hussein’s “brothers” and randomly shouting Allahu akbar, they removed the flowers as contrary to Islamic teaching.

In place of the flowers, they left a printed leaflet randomly complaining about Denmark’s “double standards.” It noted that Hussein’s body had been left in a pool of blood but the body of the Jewish security guard killed at the synagogue had been quickly covered.

Imagine that: a dead cold-blooded killer gets treated with less respect by authorities than his innocent victim.

Echoing the narrative of Hussein’s “brothers,” the New York Times contends that Hussein’s anger was “only loosely tied to Islam.” The real source of his anger, we are told, was the discrimination Muslims face in Danish society.

I suppose it’s a concession that the Times ties Hussein’s anger to Islam, by name, at all. But the claims that the connection is “loose” and that grievances over perceived discrimination constituted the real issue are unpersuasive.

Discrimination, both real and perceived, against new immigrant populations is a common phenomenon. It isn’t confined to immigrant Muslims.

Discrimination naturally fuels hostility by those who feel they experience it. But more is required to produce murderous acts of the type that Hussein committed. Otherwise, Jews would have gone on non-gang-related shooting sprees during the early 1900s and Hispanic-American immigrants would be going on them today.

Islam supplies the missing ingredient. In its radical form, Islam enables people like Hussein to view a murderous rampage as the fulfillment of a religious duty and an act of martyrdom.

This explains Hussein’s choice of targets. He didn’t attack a Danish government building, as would be expected were he motivated by a grievance against Danish society. Instead, he chose targets tied — and not loosely — to religion.

The first target was secularists who had made fun of Muhammad. The second target was Jews, members of a faith radical Islam particularly reviles.

As obtuse as the Times is, it’s ahead of President Obama. He can’t even bring himself publicly to entertain the possibility of a connection between Islam and the terrorism routinely being committed in its name. Privately, though, I suspect that Obama sees the situation as the Times does, viewing Hussein, in part, as a victim of discrimination.

Unfortunately, this world view represents a barrier to fighting terrorism. The perception of discrimination against minority groups can’t be eliminated any time soon (by which I mean at least half a century). Thus, even if this perception did lie at the heart of the terrorism problem, dispelling it isn’t the solution.

Moreover, viewing terrorists as victims and civil society as the victimizer impedes the solution. Only a society with the confidence to reject this self-hating narrative will be well-equipped to fight back effectively.

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