Consistency is considered a virtue in most cases. But when it comes to jumping to conclusions and accusing the right of being responsible for the actions of mentally unbalanced people who become violent and commit hate crimes, or seem inspired by the far right fringe, the Left has demonstrated an ideological uniformity that turns virtue into embarrassing idiocy.
Call it “premature evisceration,” as the Left on several occasions has risen up in its self-righteous might to smite the right for its perceived “hate speech,” only to tiptoe away later with egg on its face when it was discovered that things were not quite as they seemed at first blush.
The most recent example of the Left’s premature evisceration occurred last week with the stabbing of Ahmed Sharif, a Muslim cab driver by Michael Enright — a 21 year old film student, recently returned from Afghanistan where he was embedded with the Marines to shoot a documentary on the war. Enright, an admitted alcoholic and AA member, got into Sharif’s cab and, after some pleasant conversation according to the cabbie, blurted out the question, “Are you a Muslim?” He then stabbed Sharif nearly killing him, and made his getaway. He was captured within minutes, accusing Mr. Sharif of trying to rob him.
“It’s not even Islamophobia, it’s beyond Islamophobia,” said Daisy Khan, wife of Park 51’s Feisal Abdul Rauf. “It’s hate of all Muslims,” she said in response to the attack.
Not to be outdone in the hysterical denunciation department, Mayor Bloomberg called critics of the development plan “un-American” and accused them of trying “to implicate all of Islam for the 9⁄11 attacks.”
Left wing blogs were full of denunciations of Park 51 opponents for their “hate speech” that, in their eyes, obviously fueled Enright’s attack. Evidently, as the progressive thinking seems tobe going on this: People opposed to the plan to place a community center and mosque so close to Ground Zero are out to oppress Muslims…or something. And all this talk about moving the development somewhere else was bound to cause some violence against Muslims.
The one problem in all of this is that Mr. Enright himself fails to serve as a poster boy for right-wing rage against Muslims — something leftist critics would have known if they took a deep breath and waited a couple of days before storming the battlefield, attacking Park 51 opponents and accusing them of responsibility for the crime.
Enright is one very disturbed young man. He had apparently gone on a bender prior to the stabbing incident and was so drunk at the time of his arrest that police couldn’t process him and shipped him off to Bellvue psychiatric hospital. He has since been moved into a psychiatric ward for evaluation. Journals that came to light written by the suspect detailed his 35 days in Afghanistan and authorities say “the notes do not include anti-Muslim rhetoric.”
Friends say he never uttered anti-Muslim statements. One friend and classmate states: “All I’ve ever heard is that he wants things to get better for everyone.”
To that end, the young man volunteered at Intersections International, which, according to the New York Times, is “an initiative of the Collegiate Churches of New York that promotes justice and faith across religions and cultures.” They are also rabid supporters of the community center and mosque.
Now admittedly, we do not know Mr. Enright’s politics or even his position on whether to go ahead with the project near Ground Zero. But the idea that he was motivated by hate — no matter what he screamed at a Muslim cabbie in a mentally confused drunken rage — just doesn’t compute.
This is a disturbed individual with big personal problems not related to hating Muslims or anyone else. The idea that he could have been inspired in any way by “hate speech” of Park 51 opponents exists only in the fertile imaginations of those willing and eager to jump the gun in order to engage in unwarranted political attacks.
The Left, of course, is well known for this and has engaged in this behavior several times in recent months. Recall the case of the census worker in Kentucky Bill Sparkman who was found dead in the woods tied to a tree. While authorities puzzled over what caused Sparkman’s death, the left mounted an assault on talk radio. “This is the kind of violent event that emerges from a culture of paranoia and unsubstantiated attacks,” wrote Allison Kilkenny, a Huffington Post contributor and liberal radio host.
Even the staid New York magazine joined in the hysteria. Under the headline “Has Nancy Pelosi’s Fear of Political Violence Been Realized?”, this bastion of liberal snootiness answered in the affirmative. Never mind that the authorities were being tight lipped about details of what was found at the scene. The opportunity to advance a favorite leftist trope — that the right hates government and is capable of violence if suitably programmed by talk radio — trumps common sense, reason, and logic. Noted internet conspiracy monger Brad Friedman (who pursued the idea that the Hillary Clinton camp stole the New Hampshire primary) asked “Was the 9⁄12 murder related to inflammatory rhetoric of Beck, Bachmann, and Fox ‘News’?” But of course it was, as Mr. Friedman details in his post.
Two months after the body of Mr. Sparkman was found, the authorities concluded that the unfortunate man was not murdered by right-wing wackos, but rather that he staged his death to appear as a homicide in order for his son to receive insurance benefits that would have been denied if he had taken his own life.
Perhaps no one jumped on the “Sparkman was killed by right wing wackos” bandwagon like Andrew Sullivan who went so far as to write, “No Suicide: That’s the one thing we know for certain now in the case of the Kentucky lynching.” Wonder what Mr. Sullivan thought when it came out there was no lynching, and Mr. Sparkman killed himself? We’ll never know because Sullivan had no comment.
The same held true for most of the rest of leftist commentators who had jumped the gun and blamed Sparkman’s death on talk radio, conservative lawmakers, even bloggers. No retractions. No self-criticism for getting the story so spectacularly wrong. And no introspection that might have led to a light bulb going off over their heads; maybe we should hold our fire until the facts make clear the cause and effect of this kind of thing.
In the Enright case, it didn’t even take 24 hours for much more of the truth to emerge regarding the suspect’s troubled mind and alcohol-fueled violence. And still, there is silence from much of the left regarding Enright’s connection to a pro-Park 51 organization, his lack of anti-Muslim hate speech in front of his friends and co-workers, and the lack of clues found in his journals that apparently contain no hints that he harbored hate for Muslims.
The cure for premature evisceration is simple; think before you speak. It may be a lot to ask from many leftists who seem to react in a knee jerk, unthinking fashion when confronted with opportunities to smear their ideological opponents. But the reward will be a lot less noise, with the extra added bonus of not looking like a fool when the whole story comes out.