Two seemingly contradictory portraits are emerging of Michael Enright, the 21-year old aspiring filmmaker arraigned yesterday on hate crimes charges for allegedly stabbing a New York City cab driver because he was Muslim.This is the kind of thing I was talking about last year:
There's the Michael Enright who volunteered for an interfaith group, whose Facebook profile picture was with a young girl he met on his trip to Afghanistan, and who liked the book Angela's Ashes, movies like "Boys Don't Cry" and music by the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. The Michael Enright that neighbor Alma Quinlan knew was a "great kid who is very sociable and attentive to his mother."
Then there's the Michael Enright who kept a personal diary filled with anti-Islamic rants, had a serious drinking problem and slit the throat of a cab driver while yelling "This is a checkpoint, this is checkpoint, motherf**ker, I have to put you down."
Enright's reference to a "checkpoint" likely stems from his trip to Afghanistan earlier this year. Friends say Enright definitely changed after getting back from the region, where he was shooting a documentary on a high school friend. [...]
By the time he was arrested on Tuesday in midtown Manhattan, Enright had a personal journal on him that was filled with pages of "pretty strong anti-Muslim comments," a police source told The New York Daily News.
His diary equated Muslims with "killers, ungrateful for the help they were being offered, filthy murderers without a conscience." A top Muslim American organization said the event shows the dangers of extreme anti-Islamic rhetoric.
I usually describe this informally as the difference between knowledge and belief, or the difference between knowledge and understanding. Let me illustrate by way of example. An NGO volunteer that just left South Africa refused to teach anywhere but in white schools. "In the US, I'm not a racist," he said. "But here it's just true." That sort of privileged white liberal disillusionment in the face of an actual oppressed population is what I'm driving at. On an intellectual level, it's blindingly obvious that poverty and oppression have consequences. But on an emotional level, we'd rather believe that all those oppressed populations are helpless victims, like all the well-adjusted poor in a Disney movie.I'm continually amazed at the depths to which American politics continues to sink. Every couple months, I say, "Jeez, we have to have bottomed out by now. Right? Right?!" Nope.
The truth is that oppressed populations tend to be some combination of foolish, racist, and oppressive themselves (having learned from the best). This is too much for some liberals, who become overtly racist when confronted with the reality of an oppressed people. And I'm not trying to be condescending here--it's damn hard to hold on to those pie-in-the-sky theories about the brotherhood of nations and universal human rights when some sumbitch just ran off with your shoes.
This mosque thing is deeply creepy. This time the Republicans may have unleashed more than they bargained for. See here for more.