On April 18, a man shot three people dead in Fresno, California.
Okay, okay: on April 18, a black man shot three white men dead in Fresno.
Fine: on April 18, a black man who supported black nationalist movements shot three white men dead in Fresno.
FINE: on April 18, a black man named Kori Ali Muhammad, who supported black nationalist movements and Black Lives Matter, shot three white men dead in Fresno, and yelled “Allahu Akbar!” as he did it.
Muhammad was a militant black nationalist who wanted to kill white men, and he did. One was a trainee at a power company. Another was carrying groceries. The third was in the parking lot of a Catholic charity. Last week, he shot another white man, a 25-year-old security guard at a Motel 6.
This would have been the first domestic terrorist attack since Trump was elected, except it’s not being investigated as a terrorist attack. That’s right: Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer said the incident had “nothing to do with terrorism in spite of the statement [Muhammad] made.” The Fresno police department called the FBI in to help, who are also not treating the shooting as an act of terrorism. The shooting is being treated as a hate crime.
On top of it, AP didn’t report in its breaking story that Muhammad shouted “Allahu Akbar.” Instead, they translated it to English, saying he “shouted ‘God is great’ in Arabic.” (That’s technically not quite accurate: “Allahu akbar” translates to “God is greater” or “God is the greatest.”)
Yes, America: you can shout “Allahu Akbar!” as you’re murdering white people and still not be a terrorist.
After the attack, “Allahu Akbar” was trending on Twitter, and it was the most frightening, hateful thread I’ve ever seen on there. Plus, it was trending higher than “Fresno,” the thread for the shooting itself. And even that thread was appalling. Here are the first tweets that popped up when I clicked the “Fresno” hashtag on Twitter:
And one got personal:
This seething Islamophobia isn’t news. But now it’s become a threat. I allowed myself to articulate yesterday what I’ve felt for months: many Americans want to radicalize jihadists in the United States just as bad as ISIS does. They want more attacks. They want a reason… Oh, what they’d give for a reason… But why wait when you can bait?
If you’re not scared, you’re not paying attention.
I know what Muhammad shouted. I am well aware, thank you, and I forgive you from jumping to the conclusion that this was terrorism. Given what we hear, especially in hateful alternative reality crawlspaces of the internet and from the rectal mouth of our President, the reaction makes sense on the surface. But I analyze terrorism every single day. It’s my job. And this wasn’t jihadist terrorism. This was a hate crime.
The FBI defines terrorism as “the unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.” But this attack (again, in spite of “Allahu akbar!”) wasn’t motivated by religion or politics or to further political or social objectives. The Fresno police and the FBI, who aren’t treasonous liberal snowflakes, agree: the shooting was motivated simply by hate for white people, specifically white men.
Muhammad, according to his father, believed there was a battle coming between whites and blacks. He posted a bunch of black nationalist stuff on Facebook, and, yes, some of it included “Allahu Akbar” next to extremist, hateful language.
But Muhammad has much more in common with other killers, white killers, than he does with jihadists. After all, Muhammad let non-white, non-men go unharmed. Jihadists don’t do that. They kill indiscriminately. If a Muslim doesn’t subscribe to the batshit jihadist belief that the Koran compels them to kill non-Muslims, that Muslim is a non-Muslim and will also be killed.
Check out the case of Benjamin Smith, a member of the neo-Nazi “World Church of the Creator” who, over Independence Day, carried out drive-by shootings on random minorities in Illinois and Indiana. This was treated as a hate crime, not terrorism.
Or Buford Furrow, who shot up a Los Angeles Jewish Community Center with a semi-automatic the same year. He wasn’t charged with terrorism either.
How about Dylann Roof? He murdered nine black people in a Charleston, SC, church because they were black and he wanted to start a race war. The media and, yes, black people were indeed up in arms about that racially motivated massacre. Roof was convicted of murder and 12 counts of hate crime charges. He’s unrepentant and even in the face of his sentencing maintains those people deserved to die for being black. But he was never charged with terrorism. Plus, it took five days for federal prosecutors—led by (black) attorney general Loretta Lynch—to even charge Dylann Roof with hate crimes.
Muhammad was facing hate crimes within an hour of his arrest. Dylann Fucking Roof? Black attorney general? Five days.
And this hateful killer supported Black Lives Matter. That does not make it a white hate group. I fully support Black Lives Matter and I love white people. Does that make Black Lives Matter a white love group?
What’s more, Fresno police believe Muhammad was homeless. He’s been in and out of jail. In 2005, he was arrested for selling cocaine and possessing an illegal gun. Court papers at the time said he appeared mentally unstable: he was having hallucinations and he’d been hospitalized two times for mental health problems. He appeared to have psychosis. Before that, he’d been convicted twice on fraud charges and also had a DUI.
Is this a jihadist? No. It’s a fucking crazy, mentally disturbed black supremacist. Check out his insane rap video. Check out the video where he threatens to kill white people—not because he wants to kill non-Muslims in the name of Allah, even though he speaks in Arabic and says “Allahu Akbar,” but simply because he’s a crazy black supremacist who wants to kill white people. He’s very explicit about this.
The warning that our former President, Mr. Barack Hussein Obama, and our current military commanders, including General H.R. McMaster, Trump’s National Security Advisor, have always given us is to not associate terrorists with Islam. That’s exactly what the terrorists want, we say. Jihadist groups such as ISIS use that narrative as propaganda. There’s tons of evidence that this radicalizes people and helps convince grassroots terrorists, who are inspired by ISIS but not connected to them, to attack Americans.
Here I would like to take the opportunity to annoyingly point out to my Islamophobe brothers and sisters that Kori Ali Muhammad is as American as you or I. Even this were a jihadist attack, the “travel ban” would do exactly nothing to stop it, or attacks like it. The problem is at home.
I used to be comfortable making that argument against the travel ban. It’s a solid argument. But I’m afraid it’s also a naive argument. Here’s the response today: If the problem is at home, then we have to ban Muslims from coming here and take Muslims out of America.
The truth is now clear: many Americans want to radicalize Muslims just as badly as ISIS does. They want this for the same reason, too: to justify a war between America and Islam. Many of your fellow American citizens are looking for a reason to deport, arrest, and kill Muslims, even (sometimes specifically) Muslim-Americans. They’re more than willing to uncork all of the bilious madness that’s been boiling inside their self-selected pressure-cooker monomedia helmets. Any reason will do, and they are self-selecting the facts, writing a fictional war story, and isolating themselves.
Is that strategy terrorism? It sure is.
The hatred is viral, and it’s growing more intense and more widespread. No? Do your research. Go to alt-right sites and forums. Read alt-right and militia group publications. My bet, we have about a year to get this under control, but I don’t think we can. Especially with Donald Trump at the top of the world, who has shown a terrifying willingness to ignore this problem entirely.
But this is only the first mass shooting carried out by a Muslim on Trump’s watch. And it’s small and isolated: four people over the course of a week. (Look out, America! Here comes Sharia law!) We haven’t seen a jihadist attack in America since October. Imagine what would happen if we have two more of these attacks in the next six months.
I don’t think it’s crazy—though it seems sadly cliched by now—to say that this mass, viral hatred on the part of impassioned minority members of the majority is exactly what incubated the holocaust. The reality of America today is that unchecked, uncensored hate speech is socially acceptable in public. More than that, actually: It’s mandated now, because Donald Trump won the presidency with a minority of the popular vote. “We had to be nice because of Obama,” so it goes. “Now look out.”
In the age of information self-selection, where you can simply click the facts that bother you away, how do you stop this? We race to compartmentalize a worldview before facts can shoot holes in it. The only facts that matter are the ones that immunize your worldview. But I’m not being PC, and I’m not apologizing for or defending terrorist violence: This wasn’t terrorism, according to the law, and you saying it was does not make it so. It only makes it worse.
“Allahu akbar!” isn’t evil. It’s the call to prayer. Imagine if white Christian murderers shouted “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done!” before they killed someone. It’s not a terrorist phrase, and it’s not the battle cry of Islam, though yes, evil people use it like that. But 99.999% of the time, Allahu akbar leads to something beautiful.
America, let’s not become the evil we deplore: Make Allah Akbar Again!