Monday, April 23, 2007

We have met the enemy ...

... and he is us. -- Pogo

Hey everyone. You heroic right-wing bloggers especially. I want you to meet a real hero.

This man's name is Waleed Shaalan, and he was one of the 32 victims of Seung-Hui Cho, the Virginia Tech gunman who seems to have provoked so much "well I woulda given him the ol' kung-foo fighting cuz these hands are fast as lightning" fantasizing on the parts of so many arnchair critics of the victims' response to the rampage. Not to mention, of course, the ongoing speculation that Cho might secretly be a Muslim engaging in that jihad that Michelle Malkin swears is gonna swoop down on us any day now.

The case of Waleed Shaalan offers them a little bit of a reality check. There weren't many heroes that day, but he was one of them. And oh yes: He's Muslim.
He was gunned down on Monday while he was studying in Norris Hall, but witnesses say he died a hero.

According to Randy Dymond, a civil engineering professor at Virginia Tech, Mr. Shaalan was in a classroom with another student when the gunman entered and opened fire.

Mr. Shaalan was badly wounded and lay beside the other student, who was not shot but played dead, as the gunman returned two times searching for signs of life. Just as the gunman noticed the student, Mr. Shaalan made a move to distract him, at which point he was shot a second time and died. The student believed that Mr. Shaalan purposefully distracted the shooter to save him, Mr. Dymond said.

Muslim Matters has plenty more, including an extended original post on the subject.

Mr. Shaalan's case serves as a potent antidote to the machismo from the blogospheric right, notably the execrable John Derbyshire and Mark Steyn, whose fantasies about their own comportment under the threat of gunfire are clearly constructed out of the whole cloth of their sturdy Doom skills and multiple Die Hard viewings, when the reality is that they, like nearly everyone else, would be finding a dark corner to hide in and thinking about their loved ones when the bullets started flying and people around them were being killed.

Yes, it is possible to be a hero in these situations, but the greatest likelihood is that if you do, you will die. Everyone who acted heroically at Virginia Tech died, including Mr. Shaalan. We have to honor them for their sacrifice and their bravery. But don't ask me to second-guess the people who chose to try to find a way to stay alive first.

His case is also a potent reminder to the Michelle Malkins and Debbie Schlussels and Glenn Becks out there, the hapless halfwits who see the Enemy in the "war on terror" as Muslims almost en masse, and are constantly on the lookout for campus "jihads" (remember, if you will, how Malkin pounced all over that Oklahoma suicide bomber as just such a case). They were drooling all over themselves the day of the massacre, posting constantly in the hope that the shooter would turn out to be Muslim, and were palpably disappointed when this clearly turned out not to be the case. (In Schlussel's case, it didn't even slow her down.)

The reality is that mass killers come in all shapes, races, and ethnicities, all driven by different demons. With examples ranging from the Amish schoolgirl killer to the Columbine shooters to Tim McVeigh and Buford Furrow to the Washington snipers to Al Qaeda, you'd think the public would understand by now that these outbreaks of murderousness aren't the product of whatever characteristics might be imparted by one's race or ethnicity or faith.

This is why demonizing Muslims, as is the American right's increasing wont, is such a misbegotten misconception of the reality we face. Mainstream Muslims are every bit as threatened by Al Qaeda as mainstream Christians are threatened by the Aryan Nations types of "Christians". Leaping to the assumption that they share much at all in the way of interests is simply a grotesque leap away from the real world.

Moreover, if we are to win against terrorists, we're going to need as many friends as we need, including the world's 1.4 billion Muslims. People like Waleed Shaalan. Because we should know that they, too, are fully capable of doing the right and heroic thing.

Unlike, in stark contrast, the multiple Yellow Elephants of the right. You'll notice that none of them has managed to recognize, discuss, or even mention his heroism so far.

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