What’s Islam Got to Do With It?

From the D.C. sniper to Ft. Hood, it’s un-American to blame black people or Muslims for what crazy people do.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Long before bloggers were given front-row seats at Milan Fashion Week, or the president took questions from a blogger at the White House, two writers from the online Underground News Network scored press passes to cover the trial of the D.C. sniper John Allen Muhammad.

The Web site’s editors followed some teachings of Islam and were fervent supporters of Muhammad, whose murderous rampage they believed was riddled with divine meaning. They traveled there to monitor the mainstream media covering the 2003 trial—me included—who didn’t realize that the shootings were actually “like a message from a high priest” intended to “take black people to a higher consciousness.”


After I published my interview with this kooky pair, I got an e-mail from a friend who is a journalist of Arabic descent who happens to be Muslim. She joked that it’s bad enough they presented themselves as journalists. They would have to be Muslim, too!

If you are a member of a persecuted group, you know the impulse. That tinge of embarrassment, that damn, why-can’t-we-get-it-together feeling when one of your contemporaries has gone off the rails. Jews know it. Black people have mastered it. And more recently, in the wake of the Ft. Hood tragedy, a whole lot of mainstream pundits are arguing, so should Muslims.