Dr. Suzanne Barakat, sister of Chapel Hill shooting victim Deah Barakat, has been making the media rounds to discuss her brother’s slaying at the hands of Craig Stephen Hicks, reportedly as part of a dispute over parking spaces in the condominium complex where they both lived.
According to the authorities, this argument escalated until the unhinged Hicks shot Deah Barakat, his wife Yusor, and Yusor’s sister Razan Abu-Salha in the head, execution-style. It does not seem irrelevant to the discussion of Hicks’ pathology that he was a militant atheist, while his victims were Muslims, although the media is struggling mightily to fit that into its preferred Narrative about an “anti-Muslim backlash” that’s supposed to come from conservative Christians.
Let it be noted that Suzanne Barakat is dealing with a horrendous loss. She is still responsible for what she says, especially as she’s made herself available to every major-media outlet for commentary, but it is a matter of simple human courtesy to acknowledge that she’s angry and upset over the senseless murder of her brother, his wife, and Ms. Abu-Salha. Having said that, she gives the impression of wishing to be taken seriously, and so we shall. (It’s not exactly a new development to watch TV hosts circling her like vultures and picking away at her grief to find sensational sound bites, and it’s probably pointless to object to the practice, but I must admit that I still cringe when the vultures are a bit too obvious in going about their business.)
Dr. Barakat is not buying the official explanation for her brother’s death. “I think it’s absolutely insulting, insensitive, and outrageous that the first thing they come out and say and issue a statement that this is a parking dispute,” she said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” show, as transcribed by Mediaite. “I’m not sure who they spoke to, because it took me all of five minutes of talking to his former roommate – who they had not reached out to – to give me details, information, text messages, and to give me context.”
Actually, when she relates the details of her conversation with her brother’s former roomie, he does talk about Hicks acting in a belligerent manner over visitors using a parking space he claimed was his own, flashing a gun his waistband to intimidate those who dared to take “his” space. Dr. Barakat proceeds to argue the fine points of condo parking rules to win the argument about whose space it was with Hicks, which undermines the argument she wants to make about how the hate-crimes aspect of the case has been undermined.
Her own testimony confirms that Hicks made a very big deal about that parking space indeed. Obviously that doesn’t justify physical intimidation and violence, let alone murder, but the matter on the table is precisely which fuse blew in this man’s unhinged mind, and Barakat’s “Morning Joe” appearance goes a long way toward reinforcing the official account she denounced as “insulting, insensitive, and outrageous.” She has a significant complaint, if it’s true that the police have made no effort whatsoever to contact members of her family, as she alleges at the end of the segment… but then she goes right back to arguing about the parking space.
As critics of hate-crimes legislation have always contended, stirring through the thick soup of violent madness bubbling inside a brainpan like Hicks’ to find the precise nuggets of antagonism that can be blamed for his crime is a highly subjective affair. His disdain for religion in general might have been a factor in the killer’s actions – his copious writings make it explicitly clear that he considers all of them, from the most placid local church to the brand of Islam practiced by ISIS, equally contemptible – or it might have been personal dislike for Deah Barakat and his family, or who knows what else. Anyone who has spent time living in a condominium knows that neighborhood disputes about matters such as scarce parking spaces can blow up into arguments heated enough to overwhelm someone with serious anger issues.
For what it’s worth, Hicks’ wife Karen is adamant that the shooting wasn’t a “hate crime,” while the father of Deah Barakat’s wife Yusor is equally adamant that it was. “This man had picked on my daughter and her husband a couple of times before, and he talked with them with his gun in his belt, and they were uncomfortable with him, but they did not know he would go this far,” he told the Charlotte Observer, an account of Hicks’ behavior very similar to what Suzanne Barakat said on MSNBC. He said his daughter had told him Hicks “hates us for what we are and how we look” a week before the murders.
Suzanne Barakat is determined to portray Hicks’ actions as part of a general “anti-Muslim backlash” spreading across the United States, as she made clear in an interview with Jake Tapper of CNN. Here she expressed gratitude for the “tremendously heartwarming” outpouring of “love and support” she has witnessed… but claimed much of the American public has declared “open season against Islam, Muslims in the general media, dehumanizing Muslims in movies like American Sniper.”
Reporting on these comments, Mediaite said “Barakat’s reference to the Oscar-nominated Clint Eastwood film echoes the criticism of figures like Michael Moore and Bill Maher, who have noted Navy SEAL Chris Kyle’s use of the word ‘savages’ to describe Iraqis.”
It looks like people who have seen the movie will spend the rest of time debunking that phony talking point, which some in the media repeat uncritically because Michael Moore and Bill Maher said it. Kyle does not describe “Iraqis” as savages; he’s talking about the terrorists he’s fighting. The last thing any of the world’s good people – from American citizens to Muslims suffering the even more savage wrath of ISIS because the terror state regards them as “apostates” – need is for lazy propagandists to reinforce the notion that anything said about al-Qaeda, the Taliban, the Islamic State, Boko Haram, and the rest of that scurvy crew is actually an insult directed at all Muslims everywhere. Aren’t the people pushing that nonsense the ones insulting Muslims?
Of course, they don’t see it that way, because their political objective of talking up the perpetually incipient “anti-Muslim backlash” trumps all other considerations. In her interview with Tapper, Suzanne Barakat wonders why Hicks hasn’t been classified as a “terrorist,” because “he has terrorized our families, he has terrorized our lives, he has terrorized our community.” That’s a classically facile interpretation of what the term “terrorist” means, and it distorts the listener’s understanding of what actual terrorism is. Terrorism is organized, and it has political objectives. There is no army of MSNBC-watching militant atheists itching to follow in Craig Stephen Hicks’ footsteps and murder Muslims until a list of demands are met. He isn’t one of many disconnected “lone wolves” taking marching orders from a murderous atheist high command.
Contrary to Dr. Barakat’s assertions, Western authorities go to sometimes comical extremes to avoid labeling acts of Islamist terrorism as such. They couldn’t build the official firewall between Islam and terrorism much higher. We’re all accustomed to official statements and media reports that dodge around the name and religious practices of terrorists for as long as possible. When they’re finally obliged to admit that the perpetrator was a Muslim, they bend over backwards to separate bloody deeds from religious practice, slotting each new gun, bomb, or knife attack into a “No True Muslim” narrative Western elites cling to like drowning men holding on to life preservers.
What Craig Hicks did was absolutely abominable, and his motivations should be considered thoroughly, as the court seeks to establish his state of mind. But let’s abandon these efforts to rebuild the tattered “anti-Muslim backlash” narrative upon his crimes. There are enough real security threats out there; we shouldn’t let anyone add phantom terrorists in an effort to balance the ideological scales.