Saturday, October 08, 2005

Pay no attention to that bearded man with the backpack

The media response to the bomb set off near a packed Oklahoma University football game last week can hardly be called a "response." There couldn't be less coverage of the event if there were a media blackout. What we know so far is this:

1. Last Saturday night, Joel Hinrichs III died in an explosion while sitting on a bench less than one hundred yards from the OU football stadium. The blast reportedly vaporized the upper half of his body, indicating that he may have been wearing a bomb vest or carrying a bomb in a backpack.

2. One guard from the football game reported seeing Hinrichs bolt from the line of spectators entering the stadium when he was asked to open his bag. (University officials deny Hinrichs attempted to enter the stadium, saying he's nowhere on the security tapes.)

Now just by themselves, these two reports warrant media attention. No matter what his motivation, Hinrichs may have intended to end more lives than just his own that night. The fact that he may have been deterred by vigilant security is significant. The fact that no one pursued him when he declined to be searched is also significant. So why did is the story being ignored? Well, it did get some press, mainly to spread the word that Hinrichs was an American kid with no apparent ties to Islam who decided to blow himself to smithereens and happened to do it near a crowded stadium. The media spotlight grew dimmer and dimmer as the following information emerged:

3. Hinrichs' roommate is Muslim.

4. That Muslim roommate attends a mosque that was also a favorite haunt of Zacaria Moussaoui.

5. The explosive that killed Hinrichs was of the same type that the shoe bomber tried to use to bring down a commercial airliner.

The plot thickens. Well, not if you trust the mainstream media. These revelations led to almost no additional reporting on the story. Instead, we got nonsense like "Aftermath Affects Muslim Community," one of those articles that manages to refute its own premise before it's done:
"You take the actions of a minority of a group and apply them to the group overall," he said. "Some Malaysian sees on TV reports of Catholic priests (molesting children) a few years ago‚--What'‚s he going to think about priests?"

Still, Khan said that, generally, most OU students have reacted reasonably.

"I'd have to say there's been no negativity directed at me or my friends," he said.

The way the Muslim community has been "affected," apparently, is that it might have to endure some scrutiny. This, it seems, is too much to bear, even in the interest of security:
Ashraf Hussein, president of Muslim Student Association and petroleum and electrical engineering junior, said he is disturbed by the media's focus.

"(Hinrichs) had a Muslim roommate; he had a Muslim roommate--That's all they're mentioning," Hussein said."

Right, that's all we're mentioning because it's a development we'd be foolish to overlook. According to Muslims like Hussein, we should ignore these coincidences in the interest of political correctness. Well, then this photo of Hinrichs surfaced.

Oh, dear.

Hinrichs was reportedly a little strapped, so maybe he was conserving his Mach-3 blades by shaving only his moustache. Then again, he had enough dough to attempt a big fertilizer purchase a few days prior to the bombing. Still, there must be some perfectly innocent reason the misguided young man decided to go for the Taliban look. (The Oklahoma Daily student newspaper actually had the balls to run this photo with a 900-word profile of Hinrichs that completely avoids the issue of Islam, as if the beard is some kind of engineering-student fad.)

The desperate attempts by mainstream media outlets to shield Muslims from reasonable scrutiny will leave them vulnerable to charges of complicity should Zarqawi's promise of a "Ramadan offensive" on American soil come to fruition.

Bloggers are doing what old-media reporters will not. Zombie is maintaining a thorough compendium of reports on the bombing, along with a detailed map showing the locations of Hinrichs' apartment, the mosque his roommate attended, the stadium, and the site of the blast.

Blogger.com's spell-checker wants to replace "Hinrichs" with "anarchic." Is that a clue?

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