He was depressed.
He drank too much.
He was going through a rough patch.
Those are the current talking points for explaining what led Muhammad Abdulazeez to take the lives of five American servicemen in Chattanooga, Tenn. last week. In spite of the substantial evidence that points to Islamic extremism as Abdulazeez’s inspiration, the young man’s supposed mental health problems has received far more attention in recent days.
As the Associated Press reports, Abdulazeez’s family says there is no explanation for his horrific crime, except that their son was feeling sad. For evidence of the young man’s substance problem and mental instability, they said his trip to Jordan last year was taken to get his life back in order.
And as we all know, most depressed people with drinking problems don’t seek counseling, they fly over to a region with a strong element of religious extremism to get help.
While it is appropriate to report the family’s side of the terror attack, it is incredible for the media to serve as the Muslim family’s public relations agency and to report the parents’ side as the likely truth.
The AP report, relying entirely on the word of an anonymous representative for the family, detailed every claim — such as Abdulazeez’s alleged history of medication and the family having no other explanation for the violence –from this source without verifying it.
The New York Times allowed this same unknown source to claim Abdulazeez’s notes on matrydom were not the words of a typical jihadi, but “what you’d expect from a depressed person reading stuff about [martyrdom].” The source continually emphasizes with The Times that the Chattanooga gunman was very, very depressed and that’s the only reason why he turned to violence.
The Grey Lady seemingly concurred with this sentiment in titling the article: “In Chattanooga, a Young Man in a Downward Spiral.”
Both the NYT and the AP hardly mentioned radical Islam in their respective reports.
People magazine reported on this statement as the explanation for the shooting. As the publication notes, “[l]ittle is known about the motives of Muhammad Youssuf Abdulazeez,” and that must be why Islam is never mentioned in the entirety of the piece.
The fluff magazine and the two prestigious outlets weren’t alone in this kind of whitewashed journalism, as The Daily Caller’s Jim Treacher noted. (RELATED: Presumably, Mohammad Youssuf Abdulazeez Didn’t Own Any Confederate Flags)
However, as previously alluded to, the only source for the gunman’s supposed depression is his own family, which isn’t exactly a neutral authority. It’s reasonable to think the parents want to promote the depression theory to make their son look better in the media’s eyes and to take scrutiny off his probable radicalization.
The plan appears to have worked. Americans are seeing the family’s storyline. Americans are also seeing a treasure trove of pictures of an affable Abdulazeez who looks more like your friendly neighbor than the terrorist next door. These affable pics even come with stories that imply Abdulazeez was inspired to kill by radical Islam.
The converging Chattanooga narrative isn’t the first time this bizarre coverage has been given to homegrown jihadis. Boston bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev received a glamorous cover photo and an sympathetic profile from Rolling Stone back in 2013. The Obama administration chalked up the 2009 Fort Hood shooting as workplace violence and journalists filed stories wondering how Nidal Hasan, a trained psychiatrist, could unexpectedly snap — with nary a mention of Hasan shouting “Allahu Ackbar!” as he gunned down soldiers.
The worst part about this type of reporting is how it diminishes the seriousness of the terrorism that struck the nation last week. The press doesn’t treat the murders of American troops on American soil as of a terrible act committed by a jihadi sworn to destroy our country. Instead, the event gets treated like a natural disaster — something we should just shrug our shoulders at and view as an unpreventable tragedy. (RELATED: Need To Score Political Points? Try Exploiting Tragedies)
Rather than these five brave young men dying at the hands of a terrorist, they died because Tropical Storm Muhammad swept through their offices.
The treatment of Abdulazeez is dramatically different than the treatment of Dylann Storm Roof. Off the bat, Roof was (rightfully) depicted as a terrorist who committed a monstrous act.
But why is it remotely acceptable to suggest that depression was a problem for Abdulazeez but wrong to observe the Charleston shooter’s history of mental illness?
The Charleston narrative is that Roof’s white supremacy led him to his atrocious act and wholly influenced his mindset.
Yet in Chattanooga, radical Islam is getting a pass. The Chattanooga narrative is that Abdulazeez was sad and depressed, and these feelings led him to kill five members of the military.
This obvious double standard has allowed outlets to run with Abdulazeez’s alleged depression as a reasonable motive for targeting locations favored by wannabe jihadis. (RELATED: SEVEN ISLAMIC TERRORIST ATTACKS IN USA IN SEVEN YEARS For Obama Administration)
That’s just one big coincidence.
It’s mind-numbing to witness this kind of response when we’re presently engaged in a war with Islamic extremists overseas. Many of those extremists are just like Abdualazeez. Many come from comfortable backgrounds. Many had issues with substance abuse. Many felt sad before taking up jihad. (RELATED: I Graduated From College With The Chattanooga Gunman)
But we don’t think ISIS is beheading infidels and slaughtering children because the group’s members are feeling down in the dumps. We acknowledge these acts as the behavior of Islamic extremists.
There’s no reason, then, that we should treat Abdulazeez’s terror as the actions of a sad man acting on his unverified mental issues. This shooting was homegrown jihad, and we need to own up to this fact if we want to curb this growing problem.
Otherwise, we might as well stick our heads in a hole and aimlessly wonder why these young militants continue to strike fear into the heartland.