Maybe it’s the era of celebrity, maybe it’s just because it’s apparently more interesting to write and talk about murderers rather than their victims, but the American obsession with turning criminals into media stars is stomach-turning.
Last week an Islamist extremist, Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez, 24, showed up Thursday, July 16 at a U.S. army base near Chattanooga, Tennessee and murdered four U.S. marines and a navy sailor stationed at the recruiting and naval reserve office.
As usual, the American media’s coverage is overwhelmingly focused on the killer; they’re focusing on turning the murderer into a superstar by “explaining” his behavior, digging deep into his psyche and apparently apologizing for the murders by painting a picture of a downtrodden, depressed little fellow who was pious and proper in his Islamic faith; so pious and proper in fact, that a recent arrest for drunk driving and impending court appearance left him so ashamed and despondent, according to unidentified family sources, he felt he had only one recourse to get back into God’s good graces: murder.
All of this information comes from “family members” who have not been identified; many of the in-depth articles on the shooting examine the murderer’s “spirituality” connected with the attack. Reuters reporter Mark Hosenball included this statement in an apologetic article July 22: “His family believes Abdulazeez was looking for spiritual guidance on how he might be forgiven for sins, the family source said, and that quest may have contributed to his decision to attack.”
There’s no evidence that’s actually the case, and the “family member” has a vested interest in apologizing or minimalizing Abdulazeez’ actions if the family intends on staying for any length of time in that area. Obviously, the Abdulazeez family might not be at the top of everybody’s party invite list.
But the most sickening part of this, and other, similar stories, is the focus on the shooter, and only lip-service paid to victims of the crime.
It’s really a shame that readers know so much about Abdulazeez and so little about his victims. The actual focus of the reporting, in a perfect world, would be on the people Abdulazeez murdered. The four marines are Lance Cpl. Squire K. Wells of Cobb, Ga., Gunnery Sgt. Thomas Sullivan of Hampden, Mass., Sgt. Carson Holmquist of Polk, Wis., and Staff Sgt. David Wyatt of Burke, N.C. The navy victim was Logistics Special 2nd Cl. Randall Smith of Paulding, Ohio. These men weren’t conscripts; they volunteered to serve their country in branches of the military that are notorious for their elite level of skill and dedication. It’s a bitter pill to swallow that these men shared the same fate: to be ambushed and murdered by a coward.
Too, the argument that the Chattanooga shooter “felt bad” about his criminal behavior is flawed. Anyone irresponsible to careen around town drunk and stoned obviously has a responsibility issue, but to then say, “Well, the only way to fix this is to murder other people,” is one of the most cowardly philosophies a person could subscribe to. What ever happened to taking your medicine like a man? If you’re busted for drunk driving, show up in court, take responsibility for what you’ve done, accept the consequences (there’s a word you don’t hear very often anymore) and use that mistake to become a better person.
Abdulazzez was killed by police in a shoot-out after the shooter ambushed his victims. Reuters and other American news services have yet to report if the five murders did, in fact, allow Abdulazeez entry into paradise.