Wednesday, August 25, 2010


You probably already know that Michael Enright, a 21-year-old from Brewster, New York, has been charged with stabbing a New York City cabdriver named Ahmed Sharif after asking him, "Are you Muslim?" It's a more complicated story than you might think -- go read Foster Kamer of The Village Voice, who has the most detailed report. (Short version: Enright apparently freelanced for an organization that has endorsed the Park51 project; he also spent some time recently in Afghanistan working on a film about U.S. forces there, which may explain why he's reported to have told the driver as he pulled out his knife, "Consider this a checkpoint!" He was also "very drunk" at the time of the early-evening attack, according to one law enforcement official.)

I think we're dealing with a troubled young man, possibly traumatized by experiences in a theater of war, and perhaps with a drinking problem -- which, of course, is precisely the kind of thing you're not allowed to say if a perpetrator of politically charged violence is Muslim. In such instances, only the politics is supposed to be relevant.

Also, in such instances, everyone who is perceived to be on the perpetrator's side -- all Muslims, all liberals and Democrats -- is expected to issue a swift and unambiguous condemnation. (Being non-Republicans, you see, we're partly responsible for all non-right-wing acts of political violence.)

So shouldn't the press be demanding statements of condemnation from Pam Geller? Sarah Palin? Newt Gingrich? Rick Lazio? Rupert Murdoch? Roger Ailes? Debra Burlingame? Rick Scott? Can't we say they're condoning vigilante violence if those statements aren't forthcoming by sunset?

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