“Hello, my name is Yusor Abu-Salha.”
February 13, 2015 7:44 AM   Subscribe

Hello, my name is Yusor Abu-Salha. "In May 2014, Yusor Abu-Salha – one of the victims of Tuesday’s shooting in Chapel Hill –recorded a StoryCorps interview with Mussarut Jabeen, who was her 3rd grade teacher." (Direct MP3)
posted by kmz (83 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
 
My God, what a terrible loss.
posted by Cash4Lead at 7:50 AM on February 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


Argh.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:51 AM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


This was heartbreaking.
posted by SkylitDrawl at 7:53 AM on February 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


I heard this right after I got into my car this morning. I cried all the way to work.
posted by hydropsyche at 8:02 AM on February 13, 2015


Oh, this is so horribly sad. Local news in NC is taking the motive offered by Hicks' defense attorney--that he was upset about a parking spot--and running with it. Anything to avoid the "hate crime" charges, I guess. As always, the comments are horrifying.
posted by witchen at 8:15 AM on February 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


I was reading somewhere that the three of them were afraid of him and he seemed to antagonize them outside of a continuous "parking dispute."

It is possible to be both Islamophobic AND get angry about the parking. People contain shitty shitty multitudes.
posted by Kitteh at 8:19 AM on February 13, 2015 [11 favorites]


It is absolutely mystifying how someone that would shoot and kill 3 people over a parking space made it this long without managing to be locked up before now for something else. I simply can't believe "parking dispute" but this is tragic and disgusting either way.
posted by Hoopo at 8:28 AM on February 13, 2015


I'm not the first to say this, and I won't be the last
"It was a parking dispute" is the new "It's all about ethics in video game journalism".

Of course, then there are those who worry that because the scumbag murderer is a self-proclaimed Atheist, it will reflect badly on other Atheists. To which P.Z. Meyers (who I have been agreeing with way too much lately) responds well.

Personally, I feel his actions disqualify him for any claim of Atheism, since it clearly shows that he believes in a God and that God is himself.
posted by oneswellfoop at 8:36 AM on February 13, 2015 [7 favorites]


"I was so happy when I saw you guys together, and you will be together for the rest of your life, insh'allah"

It breaks my heart that that wish came true in such a horrible way.

Regardless of what motivated their killer, the fact that such anger snuffing out such promising young lives is not that unusual is part of the horror for me.
posted by Gelatin at 8:41 AM on February 13, 2015 [7 favorites]


I am glad to see mention of these three young people finally reach Metafilter.
posted by infini at 8:49 AM on February 13, 2015 [23 favorites]


I don't think that atheism in general deserves any blame, but it seems pretty clear that the "New Atheism" that he considered himself a part of has a pretty nasty and poorly-informed Islamophobic streak running through it, alongside healthy doses of misogyny and racism that we've discussed here before. It's an evangelical form of atheism that often takes on the form of the worst of religion which it claims to oppose. And despite his apparent opposition to all religions, he lived in a predominantly white and Christian city in a predominantly white and Christian state, yet specifically chose to go into the home of his outwardly non-white and non-Christian neighbors to shoot them in cold blood. That's not insignificant.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:04 AM on February 13, 2015 [21 favorites]


Regardless of what motivated their killer, the fact that such anger snuffing out such promising young lives is not that unusual is part of the horror for me.

Exactly. We live in a country where a person can be killed over the most minor infractions (parking in the wrong spot, selling loose cigarettes, being mentally ill, etc.) and the narrative becomes "well, they shouldn't have been doing x in the first place!" and "if they had only done y instead, they might still be alive today."

And if you question whether the killer was acting from any bias at all, these voices come back at you, that you shouldn't "play the race card" or, recently, the "Islamophobia card."

It's more than blaming the victim; it's something more insidious and deeply rooted in our culture. And so, so discouraging. I ache for the families of every victim of this type of nonsense.
posted by witchen at 9:04 AM on February 13, 2015 [8 favorites]


I heard this on the radio this morning. Such a strange coincidence that it was recorded, but I'm grateful to have heard from Yusor in her own voice. What a tragic loss.
posted by odayoday at 9:04 AM on February 13, 2015


"She gets buckets!!"
posted by kmz at 9:16 AM on February 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


I’ve never felt anything like this before. There’s always trends on Facebook and Instagram because of loss. You feel something, but you still scroll past because it doesn’t affect you. This time feels different. I still remember every outfit, where everything is in her room. It’s shocking. I almost don’t believe it happened. I can’t text her anymore. We were planning a trip for spring break. We were thinking about D.C. but we weren’t sure. It just doesn’t seem real. Even though it’s everywhere, it’s on the news, I still can’t quite believe it.

Words can’t really describe who she was. She’s such an amazing person. I feel like people always say that after they lose someone. This isn’t to boost her after her death—she really was a good person.
posted by ChuraChura at 9:19 AM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


[Nixed the fundraiser link coda from the post; please don't post active fundraisers to the front page.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:23 AM on February 13, 2015


Oh, this is so horribly sad. Local news in NC is taking the motive offered by Hicks' defense attorney--that he was upset about a parking spot--and running with it. Anything to avoid the "hate crime" charges, I guess.

There does seem to be pretty strong evidence that this guy was a raving nutter who threatened pretty much all his neighbors over the parking-space thing. I mean, let's say he'd shot three other neighbors who were, say, Christians. Would we all automatically assume that a "this senseless slaughter was prompted by rage over parking spots" was "obviously" a cover-up for some other story? Isn't the news full of stories of people shooting each other over utterly stupid issues (talking in movies, stolen parking spots at the mall, dog poop on the lawn etc.)?

Actually, if they were Christians, presumably Fox news would be madly running with a "deranged Atheist kills Christians in hate crime" angle and we'd all be saying "pffft, that didn't have anything to do with it."

Maybe new evidence will come out that makes this somehow about a special animus toward Muslims, but nothing I've seen in the coverage so far suggests any attempt to "cover-up" a hate-crime aspect to the story.
posted by yoink at 9:33 AM on February 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


I think the relevant analogy is how would the media treat this if a rapid radical Islamist shot three white Christian/atheist/whatever college students point blank in the head?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 9:38 AM on February 13, 2015 [9 favorites]


The woman in the OP was quite actively vocal on social media. Was it something she said that might have triggered this?
posted by infini at 9:41 AM on February 13, 2015


I think the relevant analogy is how would the media treat this if a rapid radical Islamist shot three white Christian/atheist/whatever college students point blank in the head?

Yeah, sure--but "oh geez, the media love running with preconceived narratives" isn't typically seen as a good thing around here, is it? "Why aren't the media running with the obvious preconceived narrative here?!" seems an odd complaint to hear on Metafilter.

And, after all, the cases aren't parallel. This guy wasn't, so far as the evidence I've seen so far suggests, a raving anti-Islamist. He was a raving anti-religionist. Personally, as an atheist, I'm kinda relieved that the media hasn't immediately bitten on a "see, see, this is where atheism leads!" narrative.
posted by yoink at 9:46 AM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Even if there was someway to know that Hicks 100% did not kill these young people because of their religion or culture, I think there's a lot to be said about how people in their situation can feel unsafe because of their minority status and the prejudice they daily face, either through other's direct actions or the atmosphere in which they just soak every day.

If I'm a white Christian in North Carolina, I almost definitely have a different relationship with the police and authority than a darker-skinned Muslim does. If I have an ongoing dispute with a neighbor that makes me feel unsafe, my options may be (and most definitely feel) more limited. Are the cops going to care? Are they going to take this guy's side? Is doing something about this going to make it worse?

These are, obviously, questions that everybody has to consider in a situation like this. Some people just have to consider them much differently.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:47 AM on February 13, 2015 [8 favorites]


Personally, as an atheist, I'm kinda relieved that the media hasn't immediately bitten on a "see, see, this is where atheism leads!" narrative.

That would be terrible if it happened. Anti-atheism is pretty widespread throughout the world and such a narrative would only make things worse. Atheism is such a peaceful philosophy and a force for good in the world, that it would be a real shame if its followers were demonized as hateful or violent.
posted by Thing at 9:50 AM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Cynthia Greenlee: Chapel Hill Murders Are About More Than a Parking Dispute
A parking crunch—and I acknowledge the rancor that can come when fences have not made good neighbors—did not pull the trigger. A man did, a man we know, at the very least, to have a measure of antipathy toward the religious of all faiths. Of the three people he shot, execution-style, all were observant Muslims, and two were women who wore a style of headscarf that made that clear.

And the fact that many of my Facebook friends are now doing particularly vigorous mental gymnastics to deny that ethnicity, race, or religious identity might have anything to do with this act of violence speaks loudly to the needs of a dominant culture to see itself as bearing no responsibility for hatred in its midst—even in a town where a black man simply driving down the street invites a potentially deadly encounter with the law. And the insistence that Hick’s anti-religious sentiments and Islamophobia, specifically, may not be a culprit in the killings is especially ludicrous in light of recent events at the University of North Carolina’s nearby rival, Duke University; in January, well-intentioned plans to broadcast the Muslim call to prayer from the campus’s iconic Chapel resulted in a media firestorm largely fueled by conservative Christians and talk radio, threats, and, ultimately, cancellation.

Arbitrarily dismissing North Carolina Muslims’ fears that three young people were killed because they were Muslims does nothing but affirm that Muslim lives don’t matter. Or at least, they don’t matter when we have to dislodge our prejudices and acknowledge that our white-picket-fence towns and our "safe spaces" aren’t safe for everyone.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:55 AM on February 13, 2015 [11 favorites]


Even if there was someway to know that Hicks 100% did not kill these young people because of their religion or culture, I think there's a lot to be said about how people in their situation can feel unsafe because of their minority status and the prejudice they daily face, either through other's direct actions or the atmosphere in which they just soak every day.

Well sure--but that's a very different issue. That is, it doesn't surprise me that the family feels so sure that this must somehow have been motivated by anti-muslim sentiment. I've always felt that one of the worst things about living in a society with so much racism and prejudice is the multiplier effect: that is, here's a guy who is clearly an abusive jerk to pretty much everybody in the neighborhood. One of the great, invisible privileges of being a white guy is that when you encounter someone like that you get to think "jeez, what an asshole he is" and leave it pretty much at that. I assume every black person that guy was an asshole to assumed it was because he was racist and every muslim person assumed it was because he was an anti-muslim bigot and every Chinese person because he hated Asians and so on and so on and so on. I often think about how frequently, in any given week, I'll go into a store, say, and the clerk will be cold and standoffish and unhelpful and I think "If I was a black guy, I'd just assume that that's what that was about--that she suspected me of being a shoplifter or whatever"--or someone shouts something crazy at me on the street and I get to think "oh, poor crazy person" whereas if I was a visible minority I'd have to suspect that that's what it was about. It's like every racist asshole gets to have an automatic "people's megaphone" who replays and multiplies their message, unwittingly.

I think that this case might very well be a version of that writ large: it could well be that this guy really did kill these people because he was a nutjob who was insane about parking spots and it's just impossible for people not to assume another motive.
posted by yoink at 9:59 AM on February 13, 2015


the insistence that Hick’s anti-religious sentiments and Islamophobia, specifically, may not be a culprit in the killings is especially ludicrous in light of recent events at the University of North Carolina’s nearby rival, Duke University
Unless there's some connection between Hicks and UNC this sentence is simply a confession that the author wants to use the Hicks case to make a broader point and is not actually interested in trying to figure out what motivated Hicks's actions.
posted by yoink at 10:02 AM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think that this case might very well be a version of that writ large: it could well be that this guy really did kill these people because he was a nutjob who was insane about parking spots and it's just impossible for people not to assume another motive.

That's because it wasn't random, and it's clear that there is at some level some prejudice here. Whether it was because he thought shooting them would be seen as more acceptable because they were Muslim, or because he just straight-up hated them for being Muslim, or something else that made him target them specifically, it doesn't really matter. In the end, he chose them for some reason other than "parking spot dispute."
posted by zombieflanders at 10:03 AM on February 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


. . .

They sound like such good people.
posted by benito.strauss at 10:03 AM on February 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


This guy wasn't, so far as the evidence I've seen so far suggests, a raving anti-Islamist.

Aside the from the fact that he executed three observant and obvious muslims, sure.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 10:09 AM on February 13, 2015 [13 favorites]


Aside the from the fact that he executed three observant and obvious muslims, sure.

I don't think such glib statements are helpful.
posted by Thing at 10:14 AM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Atheism is such a peaceful philosophy and a force for good in the world

Eh, I am atheist and wouldn't be comfortable calling it good or bad, peaceful or not peaceful...it's just a lack of belief in a supreme being. It doesn't even have to be all that important to one's identity, ethics, or day to day decisions. It's different for everyone, and for people who strongly identify with Dawkins and the New Atheism and such, it probably entails a lot of things it doesn't for me. And it's pretty clear that at least some people are dicks about it.

yoink pointed out there's been evidence this guy apparently was a bit nuts on ALL his neighbours about parking. Maybe there is something to this "parking dispute" after all and I shouldn't be so dismissive. But when people bring up the rhetorical point "would we assume atheism or racism played a role here if he shot his white Christian neighbour?", I wonder why he didn't, then, and instead shot his Muslim neighbours.
posted by Hoopo at 10:17 AM on February 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


Arthur Chu continues to be insightful:

The single greatest “privilege” of a privileged class is the benefit of the doubt. And the message that the “outrage brigade” is sending is a simple one:

Either, at long last, as Martin Luther King called for in the stirringly utopian climax to his famous speech, we finally achieve a culture where every hill and mountain has been made low, every rough place made plain, justice flows like a rolling stream and we all get the benefit of the doubt…

Or, in the meantime, no one does.

posted by NoxAeternum at 10:21 AM on February 13, 2015 [8 favorites]


Im not being glib. This white guy in the US executed three Muslims, is a rabid follower of New Atheism, and were still debating if he has an anti-islamic bias or not.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 10:23 AM on February 13, 2015 [15 favorites]


were still debating if he has an anti-islamic bias or not.

The question is whether, or to what extent, his anti-Islamic bias motivated the murders. Acknowledging that I don't have enough information to say one way or the other should not be taken as dismissing the fears of Muslims that it was so.
posted by Gelatin at 10:27 AM on February 13, 2015


The question is whether, or to what extent, his anti-Islamic bias motivated the murders.

Let's be honest - if the victims had been devout Christians, or the killer Muslim, we wouldn't be having that debate.
posted by NoxAeternum at 10:30 AM on February 13, 2015 [11 favorites]


Aside the from the fact that he executed three observant and obvious muslims, sure.

So if a Muslim guy kills some observant Christians, that proves it was a deliberate anti-Christian hate crime? Yay, Fox News was right all along!
posted by yoink at 10:31 AM on February 13, 2015


Let's be honest - if the victims had been devout Christians, or the killer Muslim, we wouldn't be having that debate.

We've had that debate right here on Metafilter in the past when Muslim Americans have gone crazy and shot non-Muslim Americans. And, in general, we all agreed that simply pointing to the killer's and victim's faiths and assuming that explained everything was not particularly helpful.
posted by yoink at 10:32 AM on February 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


and the larger cultural context, and the killer's ideology, and the manner of killing...
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 10:37 AM on February 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


We've had that debate right here on Metafilter in the past when Muslim Americans have gone crazy and shot non-Muslim Americans. And, in general, we all agreed that simply pointing to the killer's and victim's faiths and assuming that explained everything was not particularly helpful.

Except that's not what is happening here. What is happening here is that everyone is bending over backwards to avoid dealing with the massive elephant of anti-Muslim sentiment in the US, clutching to the parking space dispute as a means to say "well, it's not about race and religion".
posted by NoxAeternum at 10:40 AM on February 13, 2015 [9 favorites]


We've had that debate right here on Metafilter in the past when Muslim Americans have gone crazy and shot non-Muslim Americans. And, in general, we all agreed that simply pointing to the killer's and victim's faiths and assuming that explained everything was not particularly helpful.

Not only do I think that no agreement was reached, but I also don't think anyone here is saying it "explained everything." But even if they were, taking the tack that it's completely unrelated is just as foolish and uninformed.
posted by zombieflanders at 10:41 AM on February 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


and the larger cultural context, and the killer's ideology, and the manner of killing...

The "larger context" is always there, it doesn't magically explain every action that takes place. There was heightened racial tension in the US after Ferguson--does that mean that every single case of a black person killing a visibly white person (and vice versa) that has occurred since then is a case of racially-motivated hate crime?

And as for the "killer's ideology" that's precisely the question that's at issue. If you know something about it that makes it self-evidently a motive for murder is muslims you know more than I've currently seen in the press.

The "manner of killing" proves nothing at all other than that he wanted them dead.
posted by yoink at 10:42 AM on February 13, 2015


taking the tack that it's completely unrelated

Not to speak for anyone else but I'm taking the tack that "I haven't yet seen evidence that demonstrates anti-muslim hatred was the motive for the crime." Such evidence may well yet emerge. Nobody in this thread has brought any forward, though.

My only position is that "crazy man kills neighbors over parking spot" is not a story that would raise an eyebrow if you read it on page B-12 in your morning paper. Random, meaningless crap like that happens almost every day in the US. Sometimes the neighbors killed will belong to some identifiable minority, but that self-evidently does not prove that this was the motive for the killing.
posted by yoink at 10:45 AM on February 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


So if a Muslim guy kills some observant Christians, that proves it was a deliberate anti-Christian hate crime?

Sigh. No. Unless a) the killer had said Christianophobic things, and b) knew the victims were Christian.

In this case, the fucknut knew they were Muslim and had said anti-Islamic things. (Yes, anti-other religions too.)
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:48 AM on February 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


I think the fact that he had disputes with ALL of his neighbours over parking, but only felt motivated to murder the identifiably Muslim ones is telling. It would look "better" for him, islamophobia-wise, if the disputes had only been with this one family (because it would be easier to believe that maybe these 3 were just particularly assholish about it -- not that being an asshole about parking is worthy of a death sentence, of course).

I agree with yoink though, that we can't know his motive for sure yet.
posted by sparklemotion at 10:49 AM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Not to speak for anyone else but I'm taking the tack that "I haven't yet seen evidence that demonstrates anti-muslim hatred was the motive for the crime." Such evidence may well yet emerge. Nobody in this thread has brought any forward, though.

You haven't seen it because you're choosing to not look at it.
posted by NoxAeternum at 10:49 AM on February 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


I think its absolutely ridiculous that for anyone to argue that a specific case is partly motivated by racism, that they must also provide a covering-law argument to explain how marginally similar or dissimilar cases may or may not be racist as well.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 10:52 AM on February 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


Sure we can't know his motive, but to treat this case as just a run of the mill random neighborly dispute is stupid and irresponsible.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 10:53 AM on February 13, 2015 [9 favorites]


Two things:
1) the CH mayor was on the local NPR station today and announced that the FBI is and will be very involved looking for federal law violations. One of those "could be" hate crimes focused. It's very clear in CH that the overall feeling is that it was related in at least some way to anti-islam sentiments.

2) I was at a Chapel Hill middle school yesterday morning, and the principal came on over the intercom. He announced a moment of silence for these three young people, and against hate.
posted by Stewriffic at 10:54 AM on February 13, 2015 [7 favorites]


I understand it kind of like this--I don't mean to minimize the very real and very grave nature of what's happened, so bear with me--there was once a time when my neighbor loved to play country music very loud. I have a number of problems, including ideological, I guess, with that type of country music, so that fact rankled me a little bit, but if they ever parked in my parking spot it might make me realllly frustrated, and their country music-loving nature would certainly be at the forefront of my mind as I contemplated slashing the tires on their f@#&**g g*&^#$*m country music-loving stupid truck.

Now swap mild annoyance with blind, irrational rage; and swap country music fans with observant Muslims. Throw in a strong belief that "organized religion" is the worst, and a gun, and an adamant defense of his right to guns, and a lack of empathy ("no compassion at all"), and I think yes, it's pretty clear that Hicks committed something strongly resembling a hate crime.
posted by witchen at 10:56 AM on February 13, 2015 [7 favorites]


Was it right to label Chapel Hill shootings a 'hate crime' so quickly?

The creator of the #ChapelHillShooting hashtag admits he "assumed" the triple murder was a hate crime...
posted by Thing at 11:01 AM on February 13, 2015


I vaguely know Suzanne Barakat (Deah's sister), and her interview on Anderson Cooper was just heart-breaking to watch. I was breaking down in tears at the end.
posted by themadthinker at 11:03 AM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Let's be honest - if the victims had been devout Christians, or the killer Muslim, we wouldn't be having that debate.

If by we you mean MetaFilter, my opionion is we absolutely would having be that debate, with the same excluded middle, and probably even the same protagonists, only they'd be taking the exact opposite positions to the ones they're taking here.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 11:06 AM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


The legal analysis I heard was that after some Supreme Court ruling (which I forget), to prove a hate crime like this you would have to establish motive beyond a reasonable doubt. That's a tough bar, and so its quite believable that you end up with "yeah, everyone knows it was a hate crime, but we can't prove it to the right standard". The only " good" thing is that this is a crime where the penalty without the hate crime enhancement is still about as severe as you can get.

Also apparently it doesn't affect things like FBI stats of hate crimes, it could be considered a hate crime in that way even if not charged as one.
posted by thefoxgod at 11:08 AM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


My thoughts are with the family and friends of Deah Barakat, Yusor Mohammad, and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha. I can't begin to imagine their loss and anguish in light of such a brutal act. Regardless of the shooter's motives, questions of anti-Muslim bigotry, xenophobia, gun violence and others remain pressing.

I take solace from the commemoration of their lives as part of a multicultural and peaceful community. Their lives, like the lives of so many contributing to the common good, give me hope for our collective struggle against prejudice and violence, no matter where that prejudice and violence comes from or how it manifests.
posted by audi alteram partem at 11:09 AM on February 13, 2015




What a mess.

Getting killed over a parking spot is practically worse than charges of Islamophobia.
posted by phaedon at 11:20 AM on February 13, 2015


I think whats being neglected in news and arguments about this is that they were "executed".

What does that mean?

It could mean a lot of things, but in this scenario they were all shot in the head. Maybe this guy was a crack shot who could hit a bouncing quarter with a pistol. Maybe this guy coerced them to get on their knees, or turn around, or come close to him before shooting them in their fucking heads.

But that shows something. It shows that the killer was able to convince his victim to come to their death. If someone had a gun and told you to "look at my face", or "get on your knees", or "turn around", you would know whats going to happen.

So then I think, "well if these people were, under EXTREME duress, so willing to arrive at their own murders...they probably would have moved their fucking car so that this scumbag would not give them a hard time".

So go ahead, and talk about how these executions where three people were shot in the head one-by-one because of a "parking dispute", but everything points to it NOT being the result of a parking dispute.

This dude HATED these people. As for why, its definitely not parking.

To hell with, North Carolina, for allowing this lunatic access to weapons.
To hell with, neighbors, for knowing that this guy had a weapon that he brandished and not reporting it to police.
To hell with, his ex-wife, for not turning this fucker in before he could murder 3 people "over parking", yet still having press conferences saying "it wasn't about religion...he supports abortion and races".
To hell with everyone who knows him, knowing that he would have done this over "parking".
To hell with, local police department, for turning it into a "parking situation".

But hey, he's a fragile white man. It must be mental illness. Its not like he spewed hate all over his Facebook. Stuff like this makes me want to change my mind about the death penalty...this fucker does not deserve to enjoy that one moment in prison where he realizes its chocolate pudding day.

I hope his life gets taken by the state.

Here are the people currently on "death row" in NC. 76 black people and 60 white.

Here's to hoping the State makes it 61.
posted by hal_c_on at 11:23 AM on February 13, 2015 [7 favorites]


Getting killed over a parking spot is practically worse than charges of Islamophobia.

It is very odd that even the killer's wife is taking pains to point out it wasn't about Islam. Like "sure he's the kind of person that would shoot and kill 3 people over nothing, but my husband was not a racist" sort of misses the forest for the trees.
posted by Hoopo at 11:24 AM on February 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


When I saw this, it made me think about the movies like american sniper and the tweets taht came out afterwards and the immersion of being in an environment where mainstream media and entertainment do nothing but inform you 24 and 7 who the baddies are... welp, it musta been my car parking skills taht make me so afeard.
posted by infini at 11:43 AM on February 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


It is very odd that even the killer's wife is taking pains to point out it wasn't about Islam. Like "sure he's the kind of person that would shoot and kill 3 people over nothing, but my husband was not a racist" sort of misses the forest for the trees.

It's not odd at all. It's the point that Chu makes in his piece on the killings - we routinely give white men in our society the "benefit of the doubt". Look at how everyone is hanging on to the parking space explanation, so that they can avoid discussing the massive elephant marked "race and religion" in the middle of the room.
posted by NoxAeternum at 11:50 AM on February 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


I thought his previous wife said he loved the film Falling Down. That he watched it over and over. Has that been clarified or expanded upon?
posted by cashman at 12:02 PM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


...the point being that being a guy who would kill 3 people over a parking space is not really much of a "benefiit of the doubt" to me. That's a truly shitty human being. The guy needs to not be around people ever again.

Also I think the fact his wife addressed it at all says to me that e didn't in fact get whatever benefit of the doubt "not a racist" provides in this context, and in fact a lot if people had the same initial reaction I did when they heard a white guy executed 3 Muslims: they assumed it was racially motivated
posted by Hoopo at 12:08 PM on February 13, 2015


...the point being that being a guy who would kill 3 people over a parking space is not really much of a "benefiit of the doubt" to me. That's a truly shitty human being. The guy needs to not be around people ever again.

It's not so much about for him as it's for other white guys. Because if we can discount him as a aberration, then we don't have to think about our own behaviors. But if he was acting based on beliefs regarding religion and race that are shared by others, well...that's a different story.

I really recommend reading Chu's editorial on the attacks. He discusses how the dynamic works, and why it's breaking down now.
posted by NoxAeternum at 12:17 PM on February 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


I also think Marcotte's call for atheist introspection had some incisive points :

Yes, yes, I know we don’t know if it was over religion or a parking space, but it’s clear as hell that many in the atheist world are hoping—dare I say praying—that there’s some kind of exonerating evidence to show that he barely even noticed the headscarfs on the heads of two of his victims. To which I say, why? If we are, as we purport to be, rational people who are above the knee-jerk tribalism of our religious brethren, then we should be open, without any defensiveness, to an open and honest discussion about how the rhetoric of some of the big names in atheism—Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, and Bill Maher—treads past the ordinary criticisms of faith and turns into ugly and demonstrably silly arguments about how Islam is somehow uniquely poisonous as a religion. While claiming to oppose Christianity, these men have allowed themselves to be useful idiots for the cause of the Christian right, giving them an “even the atheists agree!” cover for their desire to stoke religious animosity and drumming up support for even more unnecessary wars in the Middle East.
posted by NoxAeternum at 12:29 PM on February 13, 2015 [9 favorites]


Here's to hoping the State makes it 61.

I will continue to hope the State makes it 0 in both categories.
posted by Justinian at 12:40 PM on February 13, 2015 [13 favorites]


On islamophobic prejudice in the US: "Some people see me as Muslim first and a doctor second. That's how prejudice works"
posted by dhruva at 12:50 PM on February 13, 2015


I think it's interesting how the discussion of this idiot centers around the fact that he was an atheist, but that he was a second amendment loving gun nut who liked to abuse whatever authority he had.

I mean, I can't think of the last time I heard about an Atheist killing someone for a bullshit reason, but this guy is probably 4th gun nut this week to shoot someone.

whocoudaknode ?
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 12:51 PM on February 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Heina Dadabhoy - "Far Less Disappointed Than I Expected"
The reaction from many of the people I admire (and even some with whom I’ve had issues in the past) gives me hope for what our movement has come to be and to mean. Many of the public faces and known figures did not succumb to the tribalistic impulse to declare “No True Atheist” or “#NotAllAtheists.” Instead, we saw groups like Foundation Beyond Belief raising money for the charity efforts of the now-deceased.
And - "Empty Call-Outs: When Journalists Complain About White Male Atheism"
This morning, I went on HuffPost Live to talk about the Chapel Hill shootings. The other guest was Elizabeth Stoker Bruenig, a Christian leftist who wrote about the shootings at The New Republic. I had the chance to read her piece before we went on the air. While I agree with many of the points that she made, what struck me about her piece was the lack of representation for diverse atheist voices that is characteristic of many outsider critiques of atheism....

I refuse to accept narratives that complain about the lack of diversity in atheism yet do nothing to promote those who are working to improve things. Such writing is complicit in furthering the damaging notion that atheism is the sole provenance of rich white men and erases those faces and voices within it who are struggling for recognition.
posted by audi alteram partem at 12:57 PM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm a graduate student in the College of Design at North Carolina State University, where all three were current or former students, and where Razan was a first year architecture student. I didn't know her personally, but it's incredible how connected these three and there families are throughout the whole region, it seems like everybody knew them. What a gutting tragedy. I know the best and brightest gets thrown around a lot, but I can't think of a better use for the term in this case.

The following was written by a landscape architecture alum, Robert Massengale, about Razan, and it was quite touching:

Razan Abu Salha was a first year in the architecture program. She was a newborn, like all first year students are, in our design family.

Razan had chosen her path in architecture. She decided she wanted to learn about creating, making, sharing, and doing. She was one of us, searching for a passionate romance with the ideas and principles that empower people to make useful and meaningful changes for others.

Razan (the ending pronounced like Roseanne, as she liked to correct people) was an embodiement of kindness, intelligence, good humor, and optimism. She had a fondness for "lids" (baseball hats) that she'd wear over her Hijab. She was an excellent writer and thinker. She had an enjoyable wit, and a thoughtful curiosity about culture. She was a bright and kind part of the people that make up this incredibly important and creative community of design friends and colleagues.

Remember and love Razan. Love her as you love yourself and your friends and family, because she was a new and promising part of our family here, and strived, like a ll of us to discover more about what that means. We often spend so much time together learning and wrestling with our thoughts and projects, because we are passionate to help others. Razan embodied that empathy and drive.

Yesterday afternoon, Craig Stephen Hicks brought hatred to destroy Razan, her sister Yusor, and her new brother-in-law (as of December) Deah. Hatred and anger fuels acts of destruction against all human beings. We must have kinds, compassion, creativity, humor, and love in life like Razan did. We must meet this destruction with a resounding and overwhelming force of love.

Creation must be used to overcome this horrible tragedy. Creation requires love to work properly. Creation is the opposite of destruction, and the violence and the hatred that powers destructive forces. Razan was a creator. She was learning how to become a stronger thinker, designer, and creator here with us. She is a part of all of us that aspire to create out of love for others.

We must not let wrath run through rough shod over love and inspiration. We must recognize that underneath all of our time spent together toiling on projects and concepts, like Razan was doing three nights ago in the design shop, that these effects should be powered by a love of others. Love for Razan, love for ourselves, love for each other. Love must snuff out murder, and its wrathful ingredients of hatred, ignorance, and anger. Love has to win.

We will miss you Razan, and the creative potential you had to share with us all.
Rest in Peace.

posted by Sreiny at 1:05 PM on February 13, 2015 [16 favorites]


Its also not clearly a dichotomy --- it seems to me it could easily be "both". As in, he was genuinely crazy over neighbor dispute stuff (which is not uncommon), _and_ he had bigoted/hateful views about Muslims, such that he reacted more strongly than he might have had his neighbors been fellow white atheists. He didn't target random people, so it probably wasn't a "lets make a statement about Muslims" killing the way someone who goes out of their way to shoot up a mosque is doing, but having prejudice/bias towards someone makes it a lot easier to dehumanize them and react more violently than you might otherwise.

That would certainly qualify it as a hate crime to me --- I don't think the "only" motivation has to be hate, of course. But this is why actual hate crime prosecution seems like it would be hard ---- all you have to do is convince a few jury members that _maybe_ this was crazy neighbor escalation violence and you have reasonable doubt. (And while this case was likely due to more, sometimes you do have neighbor disputes end in unreasonable violence).

(And it would also be useful to think of it as a hate crime then since even if he didn't _intend_ to make a statement about Muslims, it has that effect anyway, and the general point of the classification is that these crimes affect members of the class as a whole, not just the individual victims)
posted by thefoxgod at 1:08 PM on February 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Until this moment, I had no idea they were current and/or former students of design.

Until this moment, I had no idea what it felt like to want to draw and quarter someone, alive.
posted by infini at 1:19 PM on February 13, 2015


I'll be taking a walk now. I'll see you when I see you.
posted by infini at 1:20 PM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


.
.
.
posted by rtha at 1:31 PM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


I actually live around the corner from their place, about two-three buildings away -- yes, right in the Finley Forest neighborhood -- so I've been thinking about this a lot. (If you live nearby and have something to tell the press, I have contact info).

Whatever caused this guy to go over the edge, it seems to have been building for some time. There are studies that show that stress exacerbates prejudice. It seems likely to me that personal bias + other beliefs about personal "rights" and the way the world should work + difficult life + difficult environment = disaster.

Parking at Finley Forest

Since people are wondering about parking here (not justifying anything, just explaining):

(To be clear: I am not _that_ upset about parking and we are lucky enough to have ample space for cars at our building. The tree thing was much worse for me personally.)

Parking has been a huge issue here forever; each condo unit has one assigned space and (I believe) < 1 unassigned spaces, although all condos have at least two bedrooms.

There may not be enough spaces even for each condo to have two cars parked in the lots -- I'm fuzzy on this, but I think the lots may be just slightly too small, which of course speaks not-so-well of the original developers.

Then, a few months-ish ago, pages were posted near the mail boxes, announcing that we had a new towing company (as though that were cause for celebration). I hadn't realized that towing was even on the table. I felt it was a bad sign; towing seemed...extreme, and horribly expensive for most residents and guests (retirees, public university students -- not too expensive for landlords, those with careers, or those whose parents bought their condos, I guess). Fortunately, I haven't been towed, but ugh.

I've gotten tickets for parking on the street in front of my own condo -- twice -- due to a regulation change that happened years after we bought our condo. Now, I can't even legally allow a guest to park here during the day unless I buying a special annual pass from the town each year. This is not what we signed up for when we moved in.

To be fair, we are on three or four free bus lines; the buses go to UNC, and parking in the official lots costs money. So the tight regulations prevent this being a very popular free parking spot for UNC students and/or staff.


Community living doesn't just happen smoothly with no effort

I've been to a few condo association meetings here, and even headed a committee years ago to get people to run for the board. It was hard -- being on the board is time-consuming, few want to do it, and fewer have the temperament for it. Probably more than half the people who live here are renting, and the owners of those units tend to live far away. This difficulty meant that the previous condo board had been sitting for _years_ without relief; nobody ran to fill the several vacant board seats, there wasn't even a quorum attending the elections for years, and as a result the board members just continued meeting but not really being proactive (except in a few cases, without having communicated before that, which caused a huge problem).

The committee was successful, but even that was an incredibly emotional and difficult process. You'd think that I'd have been stoked after our success and ready to take on another project, but I the process ended up being emotionally fraught, and I realized I just couldn't deal with it. Since I personally asked several people to run for the board, I know that I'm not alone -- a lot of people just don't feel that they can handle the drama that _any_ board would entail.

All that was before someone on the board decided that they really, really hated a tree I planted (admittedly without permission) and wanted to cut it down because it didn't match the squarish-shrubs-and-grass landscaping (other neighbors loved the tree, wrote letters of support, and it lived until last year.)

This neighborhood is not special! I believe that most neighborhood associations are prone to occasional drama. That's one reason so many people avoid them.

People get emotional about stuff that affects where they live. People get angry or depressed when one person's idea of beauty is in the face of people who hate looking at it every day, and people get first annoyed, then upset, then angry, then livid when day after day they come home, expecting to come home and just make dinner and go to sleep, and there's no where legal to park their cars. Someone who was prone to waving a shotgun around is not going to do well.


Not an excuse or a cause, but an opportunity

Why am I telling you this?

Please let me be clear: I'm not saying this was (or wasn't) a "hate crime". I'm not sure what the legal definition is. Even if I did know, I don't know the details of this situation. I'm not making excuses for this guy -- I don't know that I ever met him, though I do feel compassion for his wife (who is, apparently, also my neighbor).

What I'm getting at is that:

-- given that in this world we live with a whole bunch of people with a whole bunch of issues (I'm sure many people are made uneasy by white skin, and some by other factors -- I'm not ready to give up on any of them);

-- given that even "normal" people are subject to hard limits before they become impatient, and stress will wear people down over time;

-- given that knowing different kinds of people socially is one of the best ways to combat prejudice and to build relationships among neighbors;

we need to pay more attention to building community, even through those kinds of activities that traditionally get less respect, like throwing parties or other kinds of social events.

Unfortunately, people tend to only interact with this community when there's a problem, and lack of interest in participating in our association means there's no active "social committee" (even though I think that's specified in the charter). Grad students are busy; retirees are busy and feel unappreciated; the occasional young famiily is busy; and everyone looks slightly pained when the phrase "committee" is uttered.

My dude and I actually organized a few movie nights in the clubhouse years ago. One neighbor always asks when we're going to do it again. I tell her, "You could do it! We'd come!", and she always says, "Oh, no, I am too busy.". Organizing movie night takes about the same amount of time as attending movie night. What gives?

If we only know each other as obstacles or irritants, some people can start to hate all sports car guys, or ponytail girls, or SUV people, or privileged white dudes, or pajama walkers (yeah, there's a girl here who takes walks in her PJs), or dog walkers (poop is another association hot-button issue). Really hate.


In case I sound unrealistic

I'm not asserting that a party would have avoided this. I promise I'm not. I'm saying that socializing with each other more could combat bias, which would be one faintly helpful thing, grossly overshadowed by the tragedy here, but it would be something. Also, if other neighbors -- maybe other older non-student neighbors -- had had a chance to meet the guy, maybe some kind of intervention could have helped before he exploded. Is it likely? Not really, but even if there were a 1/100 chance to avoid this, that's something. If he'd had a chance to bond socially with muslims (or anyone) when he was younger, who knows?

If you believe that he was filled with hatred and bias and unredeemable from birth, though, or if you believe that there's no way this tragedy could have been avoided, then feel free to ignore all this.

We can't just expect this to happen magically, especially when we barely have to go outside and there aren't a lot of unemployed women looking for things to fill their time. If you want to make the world better, make events happen where adults and kids get to meet other people, get to work together in fun ways, and get to understand each other better.
posted by amtho at 1:57 PM on February 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


I'm not asserting that a party would have avoided this. I promise I'm not. I'm saying that socializing with each other more could combat bias, which would be one faintly helpful thing, grossly overshadowed by the tragedy here, but it would be something. Also, if other neighbors -- maybe other older non-student neighbors -- had had a chance to meet the guy, maybe some kind of intervention could have helped before he exploded. Is it likely? Not really, but even if there were a 1/100 chance to avoid this, that's something. If he'd had a chance to bond socially with muslims (or anyone) when he was younger, who knows?
posted by infini at 2:10 PM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm not saying this was (or wasn't) a "hate crime". I'm not sure what the legal definition is.

Here you go
.

Meaning, I guess, that if he had been a Hatfield and they McCoys, however much animus between them, this would not be a hate crime.
posted by IndigoJones at 2:53 PM on February 13, 2015


Also, to expand on my statement from above:

. . .

I am so sorry. So sorry.
posted by Sreiny at 3:09 PM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Oh, and I haven't listened to the StoryCorps recording yet. They played a promo clip on the local NPR station for yesterday's local afternoon program, and I almost couldn't bear it. I'm sad this happened, and sad that I never met them, even though they were just around the corner from me.
posted by amtho at 3:11 PM on February 13, 2015


It shows that the killer was able to convince his victim to come to their death.
According to the local news reports, Deah was found in the doorway. Yusor and Razan, well, one of them was in the doorway to the kitchen and the other was in the kitchen. There were eight casings found. I am speculating here, but it is very likely that this gun-loving horrible excuse for a human being knocked on the door, shot Deah in the head when he answered the door, and then stepped over his body and shot Yusor and Razan, potentially as they attempted to run away since there were more than three shots fired. And then he walked out, got in his car, and drove off.

It's senseless and it's horrifying.
posted by sockermom at 6:27 PM on February 13, 2015




To which P.Z. Meyers (who I have been agreeing with way too much lately) responds well.

So I don't know, we have a triple murder where the victims' religious beliefs appear to have been a major factor, and he decides to go for the title "beliefs have consequences," drop in a "religion is wrong and a foolish set of ideas" a bit in, and round off with him being convinced that it was about a parking space and not atheism. Maybe he says something that's not aggressively stupid in the middle somewhere, but as far I'm concerned, Myers can go fuck himself.
posted by effbot at 7:56 AM on February 14, 2015


Let's be honest - if the victims had been devout Christians, or the killer Muslim, we wouldn't be having that debate.

If by we you mean MetaFilter, my opionion is we absolutely would having be that debate, with the same excluded middle, and probably even the same protagonists, only they'd be taking the exact opposite positions to the ones they're taking here.


Oddly, I recall that the thread about the Lindt Cafe siege included significant speculation that it was a false flag attack, and the thread on the Charlie Hebdo massacre was substantially derailed by people who insisted that the magazine was racist. So you're right, in the case of two other hate crimes people did try to shift the blame.
posted by Thing at 2:48 PM on February 14, 2015


Russell Brand rips into the coverage of the shooting, especially the hyperfocus on the parking issue.
posted by NoxAeternum at 9:32 AM on February 17, 2015


Max Fisher: The murder of Ahmed Al-Jumaili in Texas should be a front-page story
Whether he knew it or not, Al-Jumaili was also arriving in Dallas at a moment when hatred of Muslims was spilling over. A few weeks earlier, in the nearby suburb of Dallas, thousands of local residents had gathered to protest a Muslim community conference being held at a local event center. The conference, to raise money to build a community center dedicated to promoting tolerance, was organized by the local school system and called "Stand With the Prophet Against Terror and Hate."

Protesters waved anti-Muslim signs and American flags for hours, surrounding roads and sidewalks leading to the conference and forcing local Muslim families who attended to endure a gauntlet of hate. "Go home and take Obama with you," one sign read. Many referenced the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris.

"We don't want them here," a woman at the protests told a local TV reporter. One man explained, "We're here to stand up for the American way of life from a faction of people who are trying to destroy us."

What happened a few weeks later, when unknown men entered Al-Jumaili's apartment complex and killed him, might have had nothing to do with those protests. But the possibility that it wasn't a coincidence has received strangely little attention.

After the murder, a local Methodist pastor named Wes Magruder told the Los Angeles Times that he and others in his community feared a connection.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:03 PM on March 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


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