Every time I look at Mohammad Anwar’s photo, I cry. I’ve not read his bio on the web. I can’t find his bio on the web. The Wikipedia page devoted to Anwar is all of 258 words long. Everything I know about him, I see in his photo. Mohammad Anwar looks his age – 66. He is bald on top with black hair at the sides of his head. He wears heavy, black-framed glasses. He has a prominent nose and a bushy mustache.
He is wearing a dignified gray suit, gray shirt, and gray tie. There’s just one restrained accent of color: a scarf around his neck sports one red stripe. He’s probably overdressing for his job – Uber Eats driver. This is a gentleman who respects himself, and I respect him. This is the kind of guy who doesn’t just hold up a family; he holds up a community.
It’s his eyes that wreck me. In them, I see every immigrant dream. The pride. The self sacrifice. The dignity. This is a guy who would work long hours at a miserable job, who would silently swallow every slight, who would bounce up after every putdown, and do it all so that his kids and grandkids can enjoy a better life. When I look at a photo of Mohammad Anwar, I see my father. I see my mother’s immigrant dreams. And I cry.
Anwar was a Muslim immigrant from Pakistan. I’m a critic of jihad and gender apartheid. I’m also a resident of a county with a high Muslim population. I have written as many stellar letters of recommendation for Muslim students as I have written articles critical of jihad and gender apartheid. In letter after letter, I have written, “You can rely on her.” “He stands out from the rest of the class.” “She was never late or absent.” “He asked for extra work.”
In my city, I have witnessed, over the course of a lifetime, Muslim immigrants make every sacrifice, work every job, put their kids into low-status, sometimes even dangerous schools, schools that were the only ones they could access, given their address and income. These parents make sure that their youngsters steer clear of any ugliness or danger around them and keep their eyes on the prize. Their children graduate with degrees that earn them solid employment. I’ve watched people come to the US with nothing and parent children who become pharmacists, computer technicians, real estate entrepreneurs, who can buy nice houses in good neighborhoods and send their own kids to Ivy League schools.
I’ve watched South Paterson transform. Less garbage on the street. Astounding, multi-story, shiny structures arise amidst Paterson’s decay. Former Passaic County Sheriff Jerry Speziale told a reporter, “South Paterson’s low crime rate is directly connected with the business acumen of its restaurant owners and grocers. For as long as I’ve been in law enforcement in this area, it’s always been a group that’s been very willing to work with us. They care about the businesses and have always worked hard to make sure the area thrives.”
Capitalism does that to people. Business demands a safe neighborhood. People will not shop where they might be shot. Paterson’s Mayor Andre Sayegh, himself a Christian Arab, said, “We’re proud of our multiculturalism in Paterson. We’re trying to monetize it. We want to leverage the culinary culture that exists here and become even more of a destination for foodies.” Sayegh, a reporter noted, greets diners with the words, “God bless you, and America.”
A recent arrival from Egypt told a reporter, “Here, with any goal, with any dream, I feel I have a chance, and I can pursue my ambitions.”
South Paterson’s revival is all the more remarkable given how different South Paterson is from many neighborhoods in the rest of the city. Along Broadway, aka Martin Luther King Way, I have seen few new businesses succeed, and I’ve watched many fail. The city plants trees – lindens and sycamores – and these plantings are rapidly vandalized and must be chopped down. One wonders: what would inspire residents to vandalize trees on their own streets? Healthy young men hang out, smoking marijuana, on sidewalks littered with discarded televisions, bedding, and hypodermic needles. Older men, intoxicated in the middle of the day, recline in their own bodily waste. Rosa Parks Boulevard, where 42-year-old James Timmons, 15-year-old Armoni Sexton, 12-year-old Genesis Rincon, and 16-year-old Ragee Clark were all shot dead in separate incidents, is just two miles from South Paterson. That South Paterson is safer than the rest of Paterson is a remarkable phenomenon, worthy of study by anyone concerned with the high death-by-shooting rate among African Americans.
That’s why I cry over Mohammad Anwar. Though Anwar lived in Virginia, not New Jersey, in him I see a wide-eyed immigrant, like my parents; in him I see a hardworking Muslim immigrant, like my students and my neighbors.
And there’s another reason I cry. I watched Mohammad Anwar die. I can’t link the Twitter video; Twitter removed it. As I write this, the video is viewable here. In the closing moments of the video, a cloud of white fog cloaks an object on the far left of the image. That obscured object is Mohammad Anwar’s dying body. After killing him, his killer screeches “My phone is in that car.” The car is Anwar’s car. On March 23, 2021, Two girls, 13 and 15 years old, wielding a stun gun, stole Anwar’s car and drove it a short distance before crashing it. The killer screeching, “My phone! My phone is in there! My phone!” is walking two feet from the body of the man she just killed.
Should you watch this video? You should. And you should cry.
Anwar was sacrificed in broad daylight, in an inhabited area, in the capital of your country and mine – Washington DC. His killing was not isolated. Shortly afterward, a 13-year-old and a 14-year-old, wielding a knife, committed another carjacking. Two 13-year-olds, using a gun, committed two more.
DC Mayor Muriel Bowser tweeted that “auto theft is a crime of opportunity.” After Twitter users protested, she later deleted her tone-deaf, victim-blaming tweet. Anwar was killed three miles from the White House. Joe Biden has been celebrated as a deeply compassionate president. Jen Psaki, his press secretary, when invited to address Anwar’s death and the wider threat of increasing violent crime in Washington, offered a robotic banality. “The president has asked senior levels of his team to be engaged in a broad swath of leaders from the AAPI [Asian American and Pacific Islander] community across the country.” Much less eloquent than the eulogy Biden provided at George Floyd’s funeral.
Reports are that Anwar’s girl killers received a deal guaranteeing that they will never serve a day behind bars, and they will be freed of any legal obligations when they reach 21. Compare this to the fate of two white 12-year-old girls who attempted, but failed, to stab another girl to death in 2014. They received sentences of 25 and 65 years.
Here’s one last reason I cry. I wouldn’t have heard about Mohammad Anwar’s death if I didn’t listen to right-wing talk radio.
On March 29, six days after Anwar died, I turned on the radio. A talk show host made a brief reference to a horrific carjacking in Washington, DC. My first thought was, “Huh?” I skim headlines at the New York Times, the Washington Post, and Google News several times a day. I tune to National Public Radio at least ten times a day. I had heard nothing about a “horrific carjacking.” I felt disoriented. If there was a horrific carjacking, surely I would have heard of it.
Instantaneously, this flashed through my mind: “I have not heard of this carjacking because the identity of the perpetrators is taboo knowledge.” That thought chilled me, and I realized that I had taken one step toward living in the society described by George Orwell. I once lived in the Soviet Empire and I remember trying to decode what was really going on from the state news sources. I now had to apply that skill to a country where the First Amendment guarantees freedom of the press.
I performed a Google search and found no mention of Anwar in the Times. Another search turned up no coverage at National Public Radio, even though its headquarters are in Washington, DC. The Washington Post did run a couple of articles.
Contrast this with the wall-to-wall coverage that National Public Radio offers crimes committed by white assailants against non-white victims. The death of George Floyd and the trial of Derek Chauvin has been the most frequent lead story on NPR for months now. NPR has devoted thousands of stories to Chauvin, as has the New York Times and the Washington Post. “Yes,” leftists will say. “Since Chauvin was a police officer, this saturation coverage is warranted.” That assertion is simply not true. Compare the minimal coverage when a black police officer, for example, Mohammed Noor, shoots an innocent white woman, Justine Ruszczyk, or the minimal coverage of a 2020 shooting of a white man by a black officer in Chicago,
“But, wait,” you may be thinking. “The left likes Muslims. They will mourn Mohammad Anwar.” You’re wrong. The left doesn’t like Muslims. The left doesn’t like anybody. In place of God, the left worships its narrative; in place of humanity, the left sacralizes hate honed to destroy. Human beings and objective facts are equally immaterial. Anything that can be twisted to serve the narrative is favored. Anything that violates the narrative is sacrificed. The left once favored working class whites; the left once favored Jews. Both have been abandoned because their utility to the revolution is past. Leftists favored African Americans, but when Juan Williams said the presence of Muslims on airplanes makes him nervous, the left dropped Williams. The left more recently shafted African American Teen Vogue editor Alexi McCammond. Leftists abandon Muslims as easily as any other identity group they temporarily champion. Always, always, it is service to the narrative that matters, not compassion, not justice, not human life.
The narrative? America is a white supremacist wasteland that destroys “black bodies” as Ta-Nehisi Coates puts it. All white Americans are racists forever and ever amen, argues Robin DiAngelo. Americans are all white supremacists who merely “pretend” to mourn Anwar in order to hurt black people, insists New York Times columnist Wajahat Ali. We need a Marxist revolution to bring on Utopia. Any death that does not serve that narrative must be tossed down the memory hole. In place of whatever it is in a human being that transcends, that feels for a stranger, that is capable of compassion, leftists have only reptilian strategizing. Every tear they shed for George Floyd is a bullet in their arsenal. They will cry over fake hate crime victims like Jussie Smollett, Althea Bernstein, and Nathan Phillips. An honorable man like Mohammad Anwar is a pebble in the shoe that must be shaken out and discarded. Black suffering that does not serve the leftist narrative must also be ignored and erased. Witness the minimal coverage offered the killing of heroic black Officer David Dorn. This is true even for Wajahat Ali, hired as a Muslim voice on the New York Times’ editorial page. Ali would rather smear America and Americans than mourn a tragically killed Muslim immigrant.
I donated to the Anwar family’s GoFundMe. I thought that that donation would help me to forget, but his eyes haunted me. I wanted to know if anyone else was feeling the grief I was. I went to Twitter. And, there, I discovered something horrific. Twitter users drew a parallel between Anwar’s death and the death of another immigrant in my home state of New Jersey.
Mehmood Ansari, just like Anwar, was a 66-year-old immigrant from Pakistan. “The 66-year-old father worked hard, morning and night, and was ‘always smiling,’ says his son Asif Ansari.” “He worked every single day, open and close,” reported the son. Ansari viewed America as “the land of opportunity.” On April 1, 2021, reports NJ.com, “Mehmood collapsed and died shortly after being robbed by a knife-wielding 12-year-old boy during a confrontation with multiple juveniles who were rampaging through the store … his son said he believes Ansari died from the shock of the incident.” A 14-year-old girl was also involved in the crime. “He was killed by hatred, by the lack of the protection from the local city,” said Habib Rehman.
The few news sources that covered Ansari’s death do not identify the suspects by race, but a YouTube video shows African American children screaming obscenities and attempting to resist arrest. Comments further suggest that Atlantic City merchants have been plagued by shoplifting, harassment, and other crimes for some time, with no response from local government. “All Lives Matters,” (sic) reads one sign at a small protest Pakistani merchants staged after Ansari’s death.
A Google search reveals that Ansari’s shocking death has received scant news coverage. The only reason I know of this death in my own state is that I’d gone to Twitter to check on tweets about Mohammad Anwar.
And then I was horrified again. On April 6, I was absent-mindedly scrolling through Facebook when I read that on March 31, 2021, a Hasidic family, visiting from Belgium, were slashed, in broad daylight, on camera, in Manhattan’s Battery Park. A man stabbed the husband, wife, and their 13-month-old baby. The victims were treated for their wounds and released. I listen to National Public Radio affiliate WNYC every day, throughout the day. I heard nothing of this attack, and Google shows no WNYC coverage. Google searches found no coverage in the New York Times. A Facebook friend who lives in Israel had heard of the attack before I did.
Facebook friends informed me of other crimes. In January, 19-year-old Antoine Watson, on camera, killed 84-year-old Thai grandfather Vicha Ratanapakdee. In March, 38-year-old Brandon Elliot violently assaulted 65-year-old Filipina immigrant Vilma Kari, as she walked to church in Manhattan. Doormen observed the assault but rather than attempting to intervene, they closed the door on her. They did, later, summon police. Kari’s GoFundMe is here.
Also in March, an Asian man was beaten and choked until he was unconscious on New York’s J-train. Those few American news sources that reported this story cut off the video because of its disturbing content. China’s People’s Daily has no such compunctions. They posted the video on Twitter, here.
American media and academia insist that white people are uniquely violent and dangerous. White people’s speech, alone, does harm. After news broke that BLM co-founder Patrisse Cullors had purchased several homes worth millions of dollars, BLM tweeted that any criticism of these purchases constitutes white supremacist terrorism against black people. Teachers and government and corporate employees are required to sign on to this set of beliefs or are threatened with loss of their jobs. See Jodi Shaw, Aaron Kindsvatter, Paul Rossi, Bari Weiss, Coca-Cola telling workers to “be less white,” and the Smithsonian Institution’s lessons on whiteness.
That all whites are responsible for any crime a white person commits against a non-white person was expressed clearly on National Public Radio on April 13. “I don’t have anything to prove, but you do as white people” said activist Demetria Hester. “You failed because he [a black person] is dead.”
When whites commit violent crimes against non-whites, the story becomes international news for years at a time, and assailant and victim names become part of daily vocabulary: witness 57 million Google results for “George Floyd.”
Some crimes are unquestionably inspired by white supremacy. The Neo-Nazi ideology that inspired the killer who carried out the June 17, 2015 Charleston church shooting certainly deserved and received attention, and anything in American culture that fed into similar killers’ twisted minds must be rooted out and rejected.
When African Americans, including children, commit shocking, violent crimes against the elderly, against women, against Jews, against harmless working class immigrants, these stories are not given the same coverage. In something so simple as vocabulary choice, these stories are suppressed.
Michelle Malkin, herself a person of color, cites statistics suggesting that Anwar’s death was no outlier. “Federal Bureau of Justice statistics data show that of nearly 600,000 violent interracial victimizations involving Blacks and Whites, Black suspects committed 537,204 interracial felonies (not including homicides), or 90%, and Whites committed 56,394 of them, or less than 10% … Black perpetrators are also overrepresented among all perpetrators of hate crimes — by 50% — according to the most recent Justice Department data from 2017. Whites are underrepresented by 24%.” Malkin further argues that rather than take on the issue of hate crimes committed by African Americans, district attorneys go soft on African American assailants.
We all know that if any of the above-described assaults had been committed by whites, the media would report the story, not just more widely and deeply, but choosing entirely different words. “A man assaulted a woman in Manhattan” would become “A white man assaulted an Asian woman in Manhattan.” The assailant’s identity as white would be emphasized.
Here’s another thing we are not saying about these crimes, but that we must regain the ability to say. These crimes are not normal. It is not normal for a 12-year-old boy to cause the death of a community elder. It is not normal for a 13-year-old girl to pull a weapon on a man, kill him, and then care only about retrieval of her cell phone. It is not normal for a big, beefy, adult man to kick a much older woman to the ground and continue to assault her. It is not normal for anyone to stab a baby. We must be shocked by these crimes. There is something very wrong here. We must fix it.
After the Charleston church shooting, media probed the killer’s ideology and upbringing. This is as it should be. After the above-listed crimes, there is no comparable analysis. In fact, comparable analysis is demonized. One must not talk about any aspect of contemporary African American culture that might contribute to criminality. In this, the media betrays African Americans themselves. As hard as it is for us to comprehend, the assailants in the above-described crimes are themselves victims. Mentioning their status as victims in no way diminishes their culpability, or the gravity of the wrongs they have committed. Yes, the assailants are victimizers. But they are also victims. It is impossible to watch the videos linked above and not see assailants who have been failed by everyone around them.
You, me, and everyone else is like these assailants in this: we all have violent impulses. Normal people have been socialized to resist our inner demons. What of these assailants? Where are their parents? Where are their churches? Where are their schools? Where are their teachers? One possible reply: they have all been so cowed by the fear of being called “racist” that they declined to say to these assailants at key points in their lives, “What you are doing is wrong. You are hurting others. You can’t do that. You must choose another path. I will show you the right way. If you do not follow, you will continue to go wrong, and you will be rejected by society.”
Another possible answer: at every step in the assailants’ lives, someone decided that they would be held to a lesser standard. You punched the kid next to you in class? Okay, no punishment. You shoplifted? Not a big deal. We won’t address that. You vandalized public property? It’s just a property crime. We’ll let it slide. “It takes a village to raise a child.” It takes a nation to fail children because holding them to standards might be deemed “racist.”
Why aren’t the New York Times or NPR or The Washington Post asking these questions? Media are not just failing America at large. They are failing African Americans specifically. African Americans are disproportionately represented as both the perpetrators and the victims of violent crimes. African Americans must fear being mugged, assaulted, raped, and killed in a way that white people don’t have to fear being victimized.
White children commit horrific crimes, too: The Slenderman Stabbers, the Sandy Hook and Columbine Shooters. When white kids do bad things, we put them under a magnifying glass. Media is flooded with front page stories of analysis by psychologists, sociologists, and clergy. We ask if the root cause of the kid’s crime was violent video games or Asperger’s syndrome, bullying or pharmaceuticals, social media or Satan himself. I read so much about the Sandy Hook shooter that I know that he habitually removed clothing tags because he couldn’t handle their touch. That shooter’s father, Peter Lanza, actually met with parents of Sandy Hook victims. He also said he wished his son had never been born. Susan Klebold, mother of a Columbine shooter, wrote a gut-wrenching memoir putting herself under analysis. What did she do wrong to raise such a son? She said, “There is a piece of me that I will never forgive not being the mother that Dylan needed me to be.” She donated all proceeds from her book to mental health and suicide prevention.
We need to ask similar questions about violent crimes committed by African Americans. One possible focus: the impact of father absence. We know that African Americans have high single-parent family rates and high poverty rates. See a recent chart from The American Enterprise Institute’s Mark J. Perry. Thomas Sowell argues that poverty among married African Americans is much lower than the poverty rate of African Americans in single-parent households. “The poverty rate among black married couples has been in single digits in every year since 1994.” Statistics suggest that single parenthood hurts blacks economically and marriage helps. Does single parenthood affect crime?
Walter Mischel’s Stanford Marshmallow Experiment suggests that children who grow up without the presence of their biological father in the home are less able to delay gratification. Research suggests that an inability to delay gratification is correlated with criminal activity. Other research suggests that children growing up in father-absent homes are less likely to master impulse control. A lack of impulse control is widely associated with criminality. Father absence in general is associated with criminality. “The more opportunities a child has to interact with his or her biological father, the less likely he or she is to commit a crime or have contact with the juvenile justice system,” reported one study.
Another possible focus for inquiry: societal attitudes towards anti-social behavior. Black conservatives like Shelby Steele, Jason Riley, Jason D. Hill, Larry Elder, Candace Owens, Thomas Sowell, Walter E. Williams, John McWhorter, Glenn Loury, and many others have said clearly that holding blacks to a lesser standard has hurt, not helped, blacks.
Rather than providing media coverage of black conservatives, rather than assigning them on syllabi and in “race training” professional workshops, leftists demonize black conservatives. University of Vermont Professor Aaron Kindsvatter resisted leftist race training on his campus. As was required by his school, he did teach his students the work of leftist Ibram X Kendi. He also taught his students the work of black conservatives Shelby Steele, Coleman Hughes, and John McWhorter. His university’s response was a turning point for Kindsvatter. Teaching Steele, Hughes, and McWhorter, he learned, was “inconsistent with the program, department, and university values.” Even discussing these black conservatives’ work was a “harmful practice … inconsistent with university policy of diversity, equity, and inclusion.” “I was slowly being boxed into a corner. I came out and said, ‘I’m not going to pretend any more.'”
Similarly, Paul Rossi, a teacher at Grace Church High School in Manhattan, in the face of an onslaught of aggressive Critical Race Theory indoctrination, attempted to assign the work of black conservative Glenn Loury. Rossi writes, “Juniors and seniors in my Art of Persuasion class … sought to engage with a wider range of political viewpoints … I thought of assigning Glenn Loury … my administration put the kibosh on my proposal.” The school’s administration is majority white.
Leftist silencing of non-conforming blacks is as pervasive on social media as it is in institutions. Terence K. Williams, an African American “actor, comedian, and commentator,” had the audacity to express outrage at the killing of Mohammad Anwar. Williams has, of course, been denounced as the ultimate Uncle Tom. One tweet calls Williams a “boy” and a dancing coon.
Jason Whitlock, an African American sportscaster, was blocked from using Twitter after he posted a factual, restrained tweet mentioning that BLM co-founder Patrisse Cullors, a self-described “trained Marxist,” had purchased several homes worth millions of dollars, one in a neighborhood that is one percent black.
In 2020, Candace Owens tweeted a video addressing the response to George Floyd’s death. Owens made clear that she condemned Floyd’s death and that she believed that Derek Chauvin should be in jail. She also said, though, that black people do not benefit by turning criminals into heroes. She asked how Aracely Henriquez, who alleged that Floyd assaulted her, would feel knowing that Joe Biden would attend Floyd’s funeral. Owens was criticized by celebrities like Meghan Markle, Piers Morgan, and Dave Chappelle.
In 2020 Shelby Steele and his son Eli Steele released “What Killed Michael Brown.” This documentary that interrogates the narrative that Michael Brown was killed by white supremacy. Amazon rejected the documentary from its streaming services, but relented under pressure.
An African American woman who calls herself “Honestly Speaking” released a brief, searing YouTube video on December 2, 2014. She criticized the response to the August, 2014, shooting of Michael Brown by police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri. “Mike Brown started the trail that lead to his death. Just because he’s black does not change that he committed a crime and the cops were called … We know d— well that if Mike Brown were in our hood Mike Brown would have f—ed one of y’all N—— up. And y’all woulda went and shot him. So spare me your f—ing bleeding heart bulls—!” For this, she was denounced as an “Uncle Tom.”
Yes, there are many African Americans who are not parroting leftist narratives. These African Americans are attacked, insulted, denounced. They are not on primetime news shows. They are not on school syllabi. Much of the time, those silencing and erasing them are leftist whites.
I donated to Mohammad Anwar’s GoFundMe at least partly for selfish reasons. I wanted to exorcise grief. I’m writing this essay for his killers. I see my immigrant people in Anwar’s eyes. I see myself in his killers. I was a 13-year-old girl once. I went to Catholic school and all the stories you’ve heard are true. When we stepped out of line, the nuns did beat us with rulers. I had immigrant, Slavic parents who never hugged me, never complimented me, and were free with the belt and the fist. They told me that the world owed me nothing. They taught me to work for what I wanted, to respect my elders, to say “excuse me,” “please,” and “thank you.” My mother cleaned houses for the rich and my father carried their bags. They communicated to me no envy for what the rich have that was unattainable to us. My mother drilled into me that we made our lives matter with our dignity, decency, and hard work. It never entered my mind that because we were poor we couldn’t be good people. I am grateful I had those hard parents and not the parents of the two girls who killed Mohammad Anwar.
My religion teaches me that all human lives are redeemable but redemption requires confession, repentance, and reparation. There is no force in powerful media, academia, the courts or most churches to call for Mohammad Anwar’s killers to repent. It wasn’t conservative America who betrayed those girls. It wasn’t conservative America who fashioned those children into killers. It was the left. The left, that “puts the kibosh” on inconvenient truth. The left, that divides us, exploits us, and pits us against each other for its own gain. The left, that has no natural feeling and is incapable of grief at the horrific waste of human life inscribed in the above-listed crimes. The left, that has rejected a God that loves both Anwar and those two girls, but hates sin. The left, that dehumanizes African Americans by applying to blacks, and only to blacks, a lesser standard, in the assumption that black people can’t manage to be quite as human as other races. The voices, the truths, the lessons, and the tough love that can save the children growing up now in neighborhoods where trees are vandalized and youth abdicate their manhood in exchange for drugs and hanging out – those salvific truths are not coming from the left. Those truths are coming from black conservatives.
Danusha Goska is the author of God through Binoculars: A Hitchhiker at a Monastery