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Friday, November 06, 2009

Is it just me...

... or does anyone else find it odd that pretty much all the news coverage of the bloody shooting spree at Fort Hood has buried the fact that the shooter was a lifelong practicing Muslim well down in the article (if it is mentioned at all)?

I ask because I have absolutely no doubt that if an Orthodox Jew were to do anything similar, the world (and even the non-orthodox Jewish community) would be trumpeting his religious affiliation, and especially his orthodoxy, in the headlines and throughout the early paragraphs.

I'm just saying.

Seriously, here's how things stack up as of this moment:

Jerusalem Post - First mention of his religion comes in the 10th paragraph.

New York Times - Amazingly never actually says he was a Muslim.  In the 34th paragraph they have a condemnation of the shooting from the Muslim Public affairs Council... but that seems odd since in the 20th paragraph they go out of their way to mention that the shooter had indicated 'No Religious Preference' in his service record... a point completely contrary to easilyavailable interview material from his fellow Mosque members.

Haaretz waits until the 10th paragraph to mention his religion.

The Washington Post waits until the 16th paragraph to mention the shooter's faith.

YNet doesn't see fit to mention his religion at all, although well into the article they say that it is unclear if his name (a very Islamic sounding one) was given at birth or if he converted at some point to Islam.

The Chicago Tribune doesn't mention the shooter's religion in all 29 paragraphs of their coverage.  Nada. 

A common thread in all the articles is a quote from the Base Commander saying that they are not treating this as a terror attack. 

It boggles the mind.  Here is a Muslim who, by all reports was about to be shipped to an overseas posting where the US is engaged in fighting a Muslim enemy.... and just before he is shipped out he goes postal (apologies to my mail carrier friends) on his fellow soldiers.  Nope... no religious connection here.

[face palm]

Posted by David Bogner on November 6, 2009 | Permalink

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Honestly, I think it's just you ... the sidebar NYT piece here mentions his parent's birthplace in the first graph and his religion in the second:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/06/us/06suspect.html?hp

And their Lede piece (which gives a timeline of news coverage) mentions that the incident was reported at around 4:00 pm, he was named at around 5:40 pm (at which point they thought he was dead) and that CNN was discussing birthplace and religion at 8:00 pm.

http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/11/05/reports-of-mass-shooting-at-fort-hood/

I mean, they haven't given his religion the full Fox News treatment, but they're hardly hiding it either.

Posted by: Andy Levy-Stevenson | Nov 6, 2009 12:57:41 PM

yes, i noticed that too. the newswire yahoo uses (ap?) doesn't mention his name at all until nearly the end of the article... almost as an addendum.

Posted by: nikki | Nov 6, 2009 1:32:19 PM

more bad PR for the Muslim world...

Posted by: Austin | Nov 6, 2009 2:34:42 PM

MSNBC mentioned it several times during their coverage. They also told that he had been upset since 9-11 about the possibility that he might be sent to the Mid-East and didn't want to go. They said that he had been in the ROTC at Virginia Tech and went into the Army so he could get financial help with his medical education. This was all before 9-11. They also reported that he evidently had not told his family that he was scheduled to be sent to Iraq. IIRC they also indicated that this info came from a cousin, but that cousin was never named and they didn't say just who had talked to that cousin.

Posted by: Illanoy Gal | Nov 6, 2009 2:35:26 PM

Because from indications they have so far, his freaking out had to do with not wanting to go overseas, not because he was acting as a terrorist who was advancing an anti American point of view. Struck me as odd too, but let's wait and see what comes out.

Posted by: Jordan Hirsch | Nov 6, 2009 3:04:30 PM

Though I agree with you for the most part, I did notice that the lead story at the home page of Yahoo! (www.yahoo.com) delves right into this issue pretty fast. Yes, it may not mention the word "Muslim" until paragraph 10, but each paragraph is very short, including some that are one sentence - so it seems as if they were building up to it as opposed to burying it. It even gives some interesting detail, such as the fact that he recently listed "Palestinian" as his nationality, though he was not born there. You can see it and judge for yourself at http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/us_fort_hood_shooting_suspect.

Posted by: yonah | Nov 6, 2009 3:05:12 PM

Probably for the same reason that they leave out those details regarding the shooting at the Synagogue in LA.
http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2009/10/shooting-at-la-synagogue-investigated-as-hate-crime-man-arrested.html
I have heard by way of the Rabbi that them shooter was screaming Allah Hu Akhbar... yet it doesn't make the media.

Posted by: mekubal | Nov 6, 2009 3:42:04 PM

After reading and hearing what this guy was saying, and also posting on the internet,why he was allowed to remain in the Army is a mystery.This was racism to the extreme.This morning I heard he made the usual Allah comments while shooting.

Posted by: ED | Nov 6, 2009 5:09:18 PM

I don't know-all the news I've been getting as I've been driving these past couple days, mainly from NPR (obviously not the most balanced) have clearly stated that he was a practicing Muslim at least several times in their broadcast, and even emphasized that he at one point proselytized and tried to convert others.

Posted by: Vicki | Nov 6, 2009 5:09:35 PM

I read that he put Palestinian on his nationality, though he was born in the States... I would have thought this would raise a few red flags inside the Army staff, but apparently not!

Posted by: ProphetJoe | Nov 6, 2009 6:22:45 PM

David

I suspect thatthe attempts of the MSM to bury this issue will not work. Too much is being unearthed and spread by bloggers and others and when it is widely understood that this guys been under syurveilance for six months, the issue will get more traction.

Posted by: moC | Nov 6, 2009 7:06:17 PM

You might find this interesting - while listening to NPR this morning, they went into a brief discussion about the pressures that mental health professionals undergo and who "counsels the counselor". I didn't hear the whole report, but my wife and I found it more than disturbing that they were offering some sort of justification or reasoning for something that is truly unforgivable.

Posted by: Z. Homa | Nov 6, 2009 8:22:59 PM

In the WaPo it was on the front page -- a full story about how he was a devout muslim, so they got it out there in a pretty big way.

The whole "he wrote Palestinian as his nationality" thing is not accurate. On a profile for a muslim dating service through his mosque, he listed his nationality as palestinian (he was born in Virginia). It's not like the US Army trolls muslim dating services to see what this guy was saying.

that said, there did seem to be some warning signs, but nobody ever acts on them until it's too late.

Posted by: jdub | Nov 6, 2009 8:35:49 PM

Agree that initial reports glossed over his religious background. But, to be fair, the stories now are fairly explicit about what he uttered while on the spree ("allahu akhbar"), his radicalization, his praise online of suicide bombers, etc.

Agree that for these kinds of events in the past -- Egyptair pilot, LAX shooting, Empire State Building observation deck -- completely glossed over the nationalistic and "religious" motivations. Even Sirhan Sirhan.

It's not only the media, but also law enforcement. They are so P.C., it took them months - if not years - to label the LAX El Al shootout as an act of terror / bias.

Posted by: Ari | Nov 6, 2009 8:57:44 PM

Andy Levy-Stevenson - I mean, they haven't given his religion the full Fox News treatment

This isn't quite fair in the current case. You realize that Fox News was one of the few media outlets that refused to provide the guys name until it was confirmed by the authorities on the scene? Meanwhile ABC was repeating the name ad nauseum!

Posted by: Mark | Nov 6, 2009 9:03:52 PM

From the initial reports, I had the impression he was Amish.

Posted by: David Bailey | Nov 7, 2009 1:24:49 AM

That hasn't been my experience of the reporting of the incident here in Australia. I presume that the US media is being a little more cagey to prevent possible backlash attacks against innocent muslim citizens.

Posted by: zemirah | Nov 7, 2009 5:04:02 AM

Most American media has made a point that he has been Muslim, or at least wearing Muslim garb and possibly linked to terrorist groups, within the first 20 hours of the story. Just take a chill pill, dude. There isn't an international conspiracy to protect Muslim terrorists.

Posted by: Austin | Nov 7, 2009 5:37:47 AM

There is a lot in this horrific attack that has yet to come out. Right now there is a lot of speculation being fed by the TV news media, and I think some caution is being cast to the winds. Already, false information has come out. First, he was killed- turned out not to be true. Then he used two handguns- now they're reporting only one (a Belgian-made semi-auto). Tonight a Texas GOP Congressman is being quoted as saying witnesses heard him yell "Allahu Akhbar" before he started shooting- sorry, that's hearsay until confirmed by eyewitnesse(s) who were there as far as I'm concerned.

I'll simply say this: As ripe as this story is for interpretations, as much as it lends itself to assumptions, a fact is the Army's got problems with some soldiers losing it. 11 murders at a Colorado base, a sergeant in Iraq going nuts. There may be some deep-rooted psych problems in the service, and if we simply chalk this up as "he's a Muslim with a Palestinian background, whaddaya expect?" we're making a mistake.

I'm not going to give any opinions or come to any conclusions until after the Army/FBI investigators have a chance to do their jobs.

Posted by: Mike Spengler | Nov 7, 2009 6:59:21 AM

I remember the NYT story I first saw on this mentioned his religion and his job right up front. But they have quite a few stories on it now and the treatment varies.

The "Worst" is this think piece set which flogs the idea that it's all "Caregiver Stress".

So if I have an army psychiatrist as the neighbor on the left and a devout Muslim on the right, it's the psychiatrist I have to be careful of? Because the shrink absorbed all that pain?

Like the docs at the pain clinic are about to go nuts, too.

Posted by: Fred | Nov 7, 2009 9:16:49 PM

Fox has been all over the Muslim angle.

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,572887,00.html

Posted by: Karl Newman | Nov 8, 2009 12:01:57 AM

As I`ve read more about the killer,I`ve come to some conclusions.He acted in certain ways and made statements in an effort to get the Army to release him on his terms(good discharge,no $ owed the governemnt).When this failed, and the Army promoted him and was going to send him to Iraq,he snapped.I have no doubt that his new Islamic religious fervor was central to his motivation.

Posted by: ED | Nov 8, 2009 12:40:10 AM

He was a what??? Oh, of course it's not important, David. Islam is just a lifestyle choice, after all, like wearing purple on Thursdays or being a vegan. NO bearing on the story at all. :P

Incidentally, what with media's (typical) obsession with the shooter, it is important to remember first-and-foremost the victims. Here is the complete list, with short bios and photos.

Forget him, what about the victims?

Posted by: Morey | Nov 8, 2009 4:38:12 PM

One French channel showed him in Muslim garb that would be frowned upon by the French army. You know how "cautious" the French are about religion.

Posted by: Ilana-Davita | Nov 8, 2009 10:44:50 PM

See David Brooks in today's NYT
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/10/opinion/10brooks.html?ref=opinion

Posted by: TRS | Nov 10, 2009 8:33:19 PM

I think they should give an option for muslims in the service to opt out of serving in a conflict where they would have to face borthers and sisters of the same religion. They could be reassigned to other posts at home in a support manner or transport them to other bases around the world. I know it's the army and you should fight where your told to fight but this situation is the result of an unpopular war that peoples opinions are still divided upon. The thought of being deployed against his muslim brothers and sisters, coupled with the bullying he recieved whilst in the service might have pushed his already unstable brain over the edge.

I'm not excusing his actions, he should be punished severely for what he did, murder is murder, but in order to prevent similiar tragedies from occuring we need to look for solutions. Putting muslim soldiers on paid administration leave from the army is not the answer, this witch hunt thing is not helping either. Truthfully we will never know how many muslims there are in the military, upwards of 350,000 at least who have openly stated their religion and if we put them all onto paid administration suspension that would be totally impractical. We could use their skills elsewhere just not in the front line, not to mention it is a serious inefficient mismanagement of resources. Wild witch hunts and accusations will only cause people to turn against you, the only way to understand another person is to talk with them and give them options.

Posted by: kenny | Nov 10, 2009 11:05:16 PM

In the Wiki article for 9/11 we are told that al Qaeda was responsible in the first sentence. An honest newspaper would have reported it in this manner:

A Muslim soldier about to be sent to Iraq shot and killed 12 soldiers at Ft Hood and wounded 43 others. Details ...

Our government would prefer: A tragic man-caused disaster occurred today at a military base where some people died and some were injured.

Posted by: bernie | Nov 13, 2009 3:58:43 AM

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