Saturday, November 27, 2010

Oregon: The Christmas Tree Bombing That Didn't Happen

Someone tried - unsuccessfully - to kill a whole lot of folks at a Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Oregon. The person is a college student, young adult, resident of Oregon, born in Somalia, and a Muslim.

Depending on someone's biases, this could 'prove' that you just can't trust:
  • College students
  • Those crazy kids
    • For me, anybody under about age 30 is a 'kid'
  • Oregonians
  • Somalis
  • Muslims
Me? I think that anybody who wants to set off a bomb at a tree lighting ceremony isn't safe to have around. The same goes for folks who think it's a good idea to set off bombs in New York City's Times Square.

Motive Matters: Sort of

The motive for wanting to commit mass murder is interesting - and may be important at the trial.

In my opinion, though: it doesn't matter whether the wannabe bomber thinks God told him to kill people; is mad at the Federal Government; or believes that Discovery Channel isn't doing enough to cut the human race down to size. (You can't make this stuff up: A Catholic Citizen in America (September 1, 2010))

I do not think that blowing up people who came to watch a Christmas tree being lit is a good way to promote your religion. I think I can see how a practicing Muslim who lives in America might not want to attend a public event that's related - a bit - to a Christian holy day. But committing mass-murder? That's not the way we're supposed to act in this country.

Decades of secularist efforts to purge Christian symbols and ideas from America have made me quite aware of how disturbing an evergreen decked out in colored lights can be: to the hypersensitive anti-Christian, at least.

But - and this is an important distinction, in my opinion - I do not think that having your skivvies in a knot is a excuse for killing folks at a public gathering.

Muslims, Murder, and Minnesota

I'll admit to a bias. I think that people are individuals. I even think that people who are part of an identifiable group are individuals.

For example, not all Irishmen are shiftless drunkards who talk too much. I'm half Irish, myself, and - wait a minute. I had a drinking problem. Maybe that was a bad example.

Or, not.

Consider America's first Irish president. He did not, as far as I am aware, have a serious problem with drinking. And, whatever failings President Kennedy may have had: he does seem to have taken his job as chief executive seriously.

America's gotten over the 'Irish need not apply' attitude, as far as I can tell. These days, the sort of folks who didn't approve of the Irish and Chinese sometimes focus their hostility on America's newer citizens - like Somalis.
Muslims, Somalia, and America
Many Somali-Americans are Muslims. No big surprise there. Most Somalis are Muslims.

Many came here for the same reason that many of my forebears came to America: It's a whole lot easier to stay alive here, than back in the old country. And there's a whole lot more opportunities here for doing well, economically.

Then there are the occasional individuals who don't like the status quo: and think that committing mass murder will improve things.

Like the young Muslim who wanted to kill a lot of folks at an Oregon Christmas tree lighting ceremony.
Somalia and Minnesota
I'm particularly interested in this case of frustrated religious expression, because of the Somalia connection. I live in Minnesota, where a great many folks from Somalia are settling. They're not coming here for the climate: this is a state where they can find jobs. (December 4, 2008)

The old 'melting pot' metaphor for America doesn't seem to have been popular for years. Decades. I think what we've got is more of a 'crazy quilt,' anyway: Immigrants don't tend to entirely jettison their culture, not for a few generations anyway.

Which is fine by me. I'd start to worry if folks stopped trying to get into America.

About Muslims living in America? I've written about that before. A lot. These posts are a pretty good indication of where I stand, on living in a country where everybody isn't exactly like me:
Aren't I Afraid of Those Murderous Muslims?
I think someone from any group might go off the rails and try to commit mass murder. Remember Timothy McVeigh? (June 6, 2009)

Besides: in this case someone who is a Muslim, living in America, was worried about a young man. And told American authorities who to look out for.

No: I'm not all that worried about 'those Muslims.' Whack jobs from any group? Those folks, I'll worry about.

Here's some of the news that set me off today:
"A Somali-born teenager was arrested on Friday for attempting to detonate what he thought was a car bomb at a Christmas Tree lighting ceremony in Oregon, officials said.

"Mohamed Osman Mohamud, 19, was charged with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction in connection with an alleged plot to bomb the annual event in downtown Portland, the Justice Department said late on Friday.

"The bomb was a fake and had been provided to Mohamud as part of a long-term sting by the FBI and other law enforcement agencies, federal officials said in a statement.

"Officials said Mohamud, a naturalized U.S. citizen and student at Oregon State University, had been in contact with an unnamed individual believed to be in northwest Pakistan and involved in terrorist activities...."
Reuters may think that the important part of this news story is that Federal investigators tricked Mr. Mohamud into thinking that he was getting help building is bomb. My take is that a really important point is mentioned, briefly, deep in the article:
"...The New York Times, quoting a federal law enforcement official on condition of anonymity, reported that the FBI received a tip from a Portland Muslim who was concerned about Mohamud's increasing radicalism. The Times said that tip prompted the FBI to monitor Mohamud's e-mail activity....

"...He told FBI agents that he had thought of waging violent jihad, or holy war, since the age of 15, federal officials said.

"Mohamud proceeded with the plot despite opportunities to back away, according to the complaint, which quotes him praising the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States and expressing a desire to see 'body parts and blood' in Portland.

"According to the affidavit, Mohamud said, 'I want whoever is attending that event to leave, to leave either dead or injured.'..."
That, I think, is an important detail: that "the FBI received a tip from a Portland Muslim who was concerned about Mohamud's increasing radicalism...."

Most folks here in Minnesota, who came from Somalia, don't get their names in the paper. They're doing what I've been doing: getting jobs; raising their families; being part of a community.

Not long ago, quite a few young Minnesotans were disappearing - some turned up later, in pieces, in Somalia. Someone had convinced them that their best career choice was to be a walking bomb.

Their folks 'back home' here in Minnesota - were not happy about the situation. At all. And that's another topic. Sort of.

Somewhat-related posts:In the news:


Brigid said...

Unintended repetition: "And here there's a whole lot more opportunities here for doing well"

The Friendly Neighborhood Proofreader

Brian H. Gill said...


How's you knows that there's not what I wanted to say?

You're right, though: Fixed, thanks!

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.