Dr. Helen

"He even told me the possibility of being shot if he prayed had crossed his mind."

So the Ohio State attacker was interviewed on the first day of classes by student journalist Kevin Stankiewicz who worked with The Lantern:

Abdul Razak Ali Artan was sitting alone at a red table outside Mendenhall Lab when I met him. It was a little before 6 p.m. on Aug. 23, the first day of classes for the semester at Ohio State, and he was the first person I came across as I headed onto campus that evening.

That he was alone was primarily why I approached. I was on assignment for the Lantern, looking for students for a new feature in the student newspaper called “Humans of Ohio State.” Several paragraphs and a photo profiling members of the campus community, introducing readers to different perspectives. I wanted to find someone who had a moment to talk that day; Artan would be the first such profile.

I found a thoughtful, engaged guy, a Muslim immigrant who wanted to spread understanding and awareness while expressing muted fears that U.S. society was becoming insular and fostering unfair stereotypes of his people. He was measured and intellectual, not angry or violent.

Naive of this interviewer to think that a predator type like Artan would appear violent and angry. Predatory violence is described by forensic psychologist J. Reid Meloy and others as follows: “Predatory violence is not preceded by autonomic arousal, is characterized by the absence of emotion and threat, and is cognitively planned. Other researchers refer to predatory violence as instrumental….” This sounds more like the Ohio attacker’s style and his calmness was a clue. But maybe the naive interviewer missed that psychology lesson. Fair enough.

But in typical naive, lefist college fashion, the interviewer seems to sympathize with Artan when he describes his plight in America where he might get shot if he prayed in public:

Artan spoke calmly but seriously about his acute awareness of what he saw as major American misconceptions about Islam, his religion. From memory, he ticked off examples of Islamophobia that garnered media attention, such as the police being summoned because a man in Avon, Ohio, was speaking Arabic in a parking lot or when a college student was removed from a plane after he said “Inshallah” in a phone conversation with his uncle.

He told me, in great detail, about the biggest struggle of his first day on campus: finding a place to pray. That became the central element of the feature in the Lantern, something that felt both important and relevant, enlightening and humanizing, the whole point of our new feature.

“This place is huge, and I don’t even know where to pray,” Artan told me. “I wanted to pray in the open, but I was scared with everything going on in the media.”

His tenor remained the same, but it was clear those examples saddened Artan and likely contributed to his fear to pray openly. He even told me the possibility of being shot if he prayed had crossed his mind. At the time, in the final stretch of a divisive presidential campaign, he spoke of his fears of then-candidate Donald Trump’s rhetoric toward Muslims, what it might mean for immigrants and refugees, what it might mean for those, like him, who practice Islam openly. How ignorance about Islam propels bigotry and hatred.

Naturally the focus is on Trump who probably caused this mess! Never mind the fact that it is not Muslims who are the victims of the majority of hate crimes, but rather, Jews. Surprisingly, even the Huffington Post has a recent piece entitled “The Most Hated People in the United States May Not Be Who You Think.” From the article:

Which religious group is the victim of the most hate crimes in the United States?

According to the hate crime statistics kept by the FBI, Jews are the primary victims of religious hate crimes. More than 50% of all hate crimes (57% in 2014) are committed against them. For a point of comparison, anti-Muslim hate crimes in 2014 were 16%.

If you include other groupings by ethnicity, race, or sexuality, Jewish people are still at the top. They are more than three times more likely to be the victim of a hate crime than any other group. To be sure, the FBI definition of hate crimes might not correspond fully with the prevalence of hatred in our society, but they are still seen as an indicator of broad patterns. …

There is a lot of coverage of hate against other groups, but one reads very little about proliferating anti-Jewish hate.

The media and types like this interviewer spend much of their time focusing on the small number of hate crimes against Muslims with whom they sympathize–and ignore and even feed into hate crimes against Jews, with whom they may feel little or less sympathy.

When the media magnifies hate crimes against one group and purposely avoids discussing hate crimes against others, it is no wonder people start to question their trustworthiness. Or worse, it leads to people being afraid to speak up in various situations for fear of being called a racist.