First things first, nobody kills three people by shooting them in the head execution style because of some putative dispute over a parking spot. This requires a deep seethed hate which has been feeding on and reinforced by the ubiquitous vitriol being spewed on the mainstream American media against the Muslims. Furthermore, according to victim’s friends, the killer had no problem when the male victim, who had no stereotypical outward appearance of a Muslim, was living alone. The harassment and confrontation only began when he was joined by the two female victims who both wore hijabs. What makes the tragic murder of three Muslim students at UNC Chapel Hill so worrisome for Muslims in America and beyond is the confluence of hate from the opposite ends of the political and ideological spectrum. Right wing nut cases on one end and on the other their incongruous post 9/11 neo-atheist liberal comrades in hand – best represented by atheism stalwarts, Hitchens, Dawkins, Harris and lately Maher.
One shouldn’t go as far as pinning the blame of this senseless murder of three bright and vibrant individuals on atheism as a belief system or on its most egregious proponents. Doing so would bring us to the level of true hate preachers du jour, Maher, Harris, Dawkins et al. But when Bill Maher provides the platform and deputizes as his wingman (Harris) a pseudo-intellectual with amateurish, superficial and ethnocentric understanding of geo-political and theological issues, one who fantasizes about genocidal nuking of hundreds of million Muslims, to perpetuate his vile and pernicious bigotry, all wrapped in the ostensible legitimacy of a supposed equal opportunity anti-theist neuro-scientist, it does raise some questions, at least of individual responsibility. More so, than the buffoons of the right-wing hate factory, who are so crude and inane that only the most lowest common denominator takes them seriously.
When Maher and Harris pass a blood libel on a large percentage of Muslims, accusing them of being radicals, hence worthy of preemptive nuking, they provide the raison d’etre for a new mutant breed of extremists, i.e. atheist right wingers. This new breed of extremists are upholders of Second Amendment (killer had in the past confronted the Muslim students while armed) with the requisite hate of a prototypical southern white supremacist, yet free of any religious, read evangelical trapping or stigma, all too convenient to avoid any accusation of acting out on the basis of religious dogma.
Since Maher and Harris, the latter in particular have been doing the bidding of the Empire and justifying, on various fora, its most recent manifestation, the War on Terror, read Islam, they must also be held to the same standard with which the Empire disposes off its both real and perceived enemies. When an American Muslim student can be sentenced to eighteen years and that too through a plea agreement, for merely copying a news story to his blog, another Muslim who happens to be sixteen year old can be droned for being the son of another American Muslim (also droned) accused of doing what’s not much different than the conduct of Maher and his ilk on both ends of the political spectrum Harris, Pamela Gellar, Robert Spencer, etc. Hence, for the sake consistency and equitable standards of justice they too should be prosecuted under terrorism charges for inciting hate and inspiring the likes of Anders Breivik, the Sikh temple killer and this latest warrior of atheism.
Saad Hasan is a Silicon Valley based engineer. His interests include military/defense, geopolitics and contemporary issues.