Sunday, June 14, 2009

Politically driven assassinations

The Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC remains closed today after a gunman fired shots, which resulted in the death of Stephan Tyrone Johns, a security guard at the museum. Suspect James Von Brunn is a Holocaust denier and white supremacist. After the incident, police found anti-Semitic writings at Von Brunn's residence in Annapolis, Maryland. This is the third shooting in recent weeks that is politically driven and has been considered domestic terrorism. Army private William Andrew Long, was shot and killed this month because of the suspect's opposition to the US military's presence in the Middle East. Also, Dr. George Tiller, one of the only remaining late abortion doctors in the country, was shot and killed in his church in late May by an anti-choice extremist.

Feminist Wire Daily got it right, there were three that were "politically driven" and considered "domestic terrorism." In this community, the assassination of Dr. George Tiller was covered and that's because we believe in abortion rights and we don't water down that support. We know many do and we knew we had to be vocal.

With regards to Stephan Tyrone Jones, which took place Wednesday, it was covered less but it was covered in the community. The death of William Andrew Long? Not covered.

A reader raised that in an e-mail (send e-mails to and wondered if that was one of the things we missed or one of the things we attempted which fell apart?

It's one of the things we missed. C.I. covers Iraq at The Common Ills and when that was in the news cycle, the emphasis was on Congressional hearings that C.I. was reporting on. Kat reported on the hearings as well. In DC, they really weren't following stories from Georgia, especially ones that didn't receive a great deal of attention. June 2nd, C.I. did note the attack.

The rest of us? Some of us just followed Pacifica and if that was your only outlet, you might have heard two sentences on the attack. There was no effort to devote, for example, an hour to the story.

For this edition, we read over the police report and the arrest warrants -- PDF format warnings, here and here. Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad, born Carlos Bledsoe, of Little Rock, Arkansas is charged with capital murder and terrorism. The report reads:


According to Detective Tommy Hudson's statement, Muhammad's confession is on videotape and the confession is summarized by Hudson as follows:

Mr. Muhammad stated that he was a practicing Muslim. Mr. Muhammad stated that he was mad at the U.S. Military because of what they had done to Muslims in the past. Mr. Muhammad stated that he took three weapons including an assault rifle and put them into his Ford Sport Trac. Mr. Muhammad further stated that he drove around in the vehicle and saw the Army Military Recruiting Station and two U.S. Soldiers smoking outside the building. Mr. Muhammad stated that he pulled onto the parking lot in front of the Recruiting Station, stopped his vehicle, and began shooting at the soldiers standing outside smoking. Mr. Muhammad stated that he fired several rounds at the soldiers with the intent of killing them. Mr. Muhammed further stated that he would have killed more soldiers if they had been on the parking lot.

William Long was 23-years-old. Long was murdered and 18-year-old Quinton Ezeagwula was wounded. Garrick Feldman (Arkansas Leader) reported last week, "After he came home from the hospital Thursday, he showed us the bullet holes in his body and told us he has shrapnel in his lungs, his neck and down his back."

Despite the taped confession, Muhammad entered a plea of not guilty June 2nd. Despite that plea, Muhammad called The Associated Press twice last week to tell his story. The Arkansas Democrat Gazette explains the first call:

In a Tuesday interview with the AP, Muhammad, a Muslim convert, said he didn't consider the killing murder because U.S. military action in the Middle East justified it.
"I do feel I'm not guilty," he said in the Tuesday collect call. "I don't think it was murder because murder is when a person kills another person without justified reason."
Muhammad reportedly told the AP that he was retaliating against the U.S. military and didn't specifically plan the shootings that morning.
"Yes, I did tell the police upon my arrest that this was an act of retaliation and not a reaction on the soldiers personally," Muhammad told the AP.

We do grasp why the e-mail came in and we don't complain about it. That's exactly what we were asking for: If you see a story on Iraq that you feel we should be noting, e-mail. This is a legitimate news story. It deserves coverage. You have a suspect who apparently confessed to the police on tape and has since confessed to The Associated Press. He states he wishes he could have killed more US service members. It's clearly a hate crime and it needs to be included.

But, outside of Feminist Wire Daily, we couldn't find that inclusion. We found a real reluctance to cover it.

When it's a right winger accused, Pacifica and the left magazines go into overdrive on the crime. We don't know what Muhammad's politics are but he claims to be Muslim (claims -- the local mosque has made clear he has never attended) and his race (he's African-American) don't fit the pattern for 'moral outrage' targets of Pacifica Radio.

We condemn the violence in all three cases. We have not focused on the suspects in our previous coverage because we do believe in innocent until proven guilty. However, we're fine with focusing on Muhammad when he's calling up AP to confess to his crimes.

All three were hate crimes. Two resulted in massive coverage from Democracy Now! Want to guess which two?

It was an issue C.I. and Elaine were bringing up last week when something took place on Democracy Now! Anne Frank was mentioned. That was Thursday. She would be noted again on Friday -- for a segment, not just a shout-out. And?

We weren't aware until C.I. and Elaine pointed it out but that was the first time this decade -- and we're in the ninth year of this decade -- that Anne Frank's been mentioned.

Anne Frank

Let's repeat that: In nine years, there was no mention of Anne Frank on Democracy Now! until last week. Now each year, Democracy Now! notes the passing of Malcolm X, MLK, Rachel Corrie and assorted others. And those aren't headlines, we're talking about segments, in some cases entire shows. But Anne Frank has never even be mentioned until last week. She was mentioned in passing on Thursday and Friday's show noted it would have been her 80th birthday.

Why does it matter?

As C.I.'s pointed out, Democracy Now! seems to have a war on Western religions. We'd actually narrow that down to, Betty's phrase, "A war on any religion or denomination whose majority is White. Amy Goodman will embrace any Black congregation." Indeed. Even if that means embracing (and broadcasting) homophobia.

Bill O'Reilly called Dr. George Tiller a "baby killer." That didn't kill George Tiller. We do know that there's free speech in this country and if O'Reilly thinks that, we'd rather he say it so we can know it and avoid him than be fooled.

We're not really interested in blaming Bill O'Reilly for what someone else did. Those of us old enough to remember the attempt on Ronald Reagan's life also remember the attempts on the part of some to blame Martin Scorsese for the assassination attempt. Some tried to say art (Taxi Driver) was responsible. No, a sick mind was responsible.

We don't see Bill O'Reilly as responsible for Dr. George Tiller's death. But if you want to travel that road, you better grasp that road has two lanes. One may take you to Rightwingville, but the other takes you to Leftwingville. Meaning, in the case of Democracy Now! and others on the left, a little more care needs to be taken to note when you're criticizing a government (such as the government of Israel) versus condemning a people because, for many, it's not so clear.

And if you're going to call out Bill O'Reilly's freedom of speech and you're going to insist that he contributed to the murder of Dr. Tiller, you better be prepared to own some culpability in crimes yourselves.

Anne Frank, an international voice of peace, was never mentioned on Democracy Now! this decade until last week. The show broadcast five days a week for one hour a day (it expands to two hours during the RNC and DNC conventions) and Anne Frank's never been mentioned. Sacco and Vanzetti? Executed in 1927, the two have been mentioned and covered over 50 times this decade. So it can't be that Anne's story is "old" since Sacco and Vanzetti's story is even older. What's the reason for the silence?

And while you consider that, remember what we pointed out about The Progressive's faux 100th anniversary issue: "Despite having WWII stories abounding throughout pages 46 through 51 (and after), the Holocaust is never noted. Norman Thomas (heavily featured throughout the magazine) has a 1948 piece on Palestine which mentions 'Jews and Arabs.' That's apparently the first mention of 'Jew' in the retrospective." How do you do that? How do you offer five pages of WWII coverage and never mention the Holocaust? Better question, why would you do that?

The United Nations recognizes Anne Frank as a symbol of peace. Can someone explain why Pacifica Radio fails to do the same?
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