A man in North Carolina has killed three college students. The victims were two women and one man. All victims were muslim and of Arab descent.
It must be admitted that at least one person was reading early reports on Twitter with the morbid and regrettable hope that the suspect was not a man, not white and definitely not a secularist. If the murders could be branded just another "honor killing", it would be simpler to reconcile with certain worldviews.
The suspect is by many accounts a left-leaning, pro-choice, pro-LGBT secularist. Not a right-wing Christian nutjob, not a delirious escaped inmate, not a Brevik-like manifesto-wielding psychopath, but a seemingly regular guy that likes to read Richard Dawkins and watch Rachel Maddow.
It meets all the qualifications of a racist and Islamophobic hate crime like the shooting in Wisconsin.
Some may run to point out to claim that the inevitable comparison to the Charlie Hebdo shooting is a false equivalence. Others may point out that the shooter may have been motivated by a pitiful neighborhood parking dispute and not out of anti-theistic rage.
Regardless, what matters is that it's immensely disappointing, tragic, outrageous and unacceptable that secular folks are not better than such violence. It matters not whether the trigger was a hijab or a parking spot. If believing in a higher power makes one relax about parking spaces, then within modern life it is absolutely a moral obligation to take up monotheism.
This blog is decidedly "Islamophobic" and will remain so, if that word has any meaning. Islam is a terrifying dogma that too many confuse for a social, economic and legal policy. At the same time, hijabs should not be confused with threats and parking spaces should not be confused with things that are worth killing over.
There is another escape route to be closed for some on the secular left - it may be said the shooter was a "pro-gun nut", which would put him at odds with many "sensible" supporters of the grand secular conspiracy. While it's true that many of the secular left would not have armed this man, pointing this out is ultimately a derailment. If the man had not a gun, he would have victimized these youth with his fists and given well-read "progressive" secular "rationality" just as much to think about.
As everything is politics, many things recently said about Islam by secularists will be viewed with a sense of irony. It is the time to hear this criticism and be better for it.
It's difficult to find enough words to condemn this man's actions, but the search is meaningful.