On November 25, you may recall, three young Palestinian-Americans, Kinnan Abdalhamid, Hisham Awartani, and Tahseen Ali Ahmad were shot n Burlington, Vermont. Two of the injured were American citizens (not “Palestinians”); the other a legal resident. The alleged shooter, Jason Eaton, was captured and appears to be mentally ill.
Two of the students have been treated and released from the hospital, but the third was shot in the spine and may never walk again. This was a reprehensible crime that may have stolen a huge part of the life from one victim.
But was it a hate crime?
On December 1 I wrote about how desperately the media seemed to want it to be a hate crime, for it fit the narrative of “Isamophobia” touted by progressives. Muslims, too, seemed to share the notion that it must have been a hate crime. After all, two of the boys were wearing kaffiyehs, the Palestinian headscarf, and they were speaking Arabic to each other.
Now, eleven days later, it appears that there is still no evidence for the alleged perpetrator having a particular hatred for Muslims, even though his social media posts have been thoroughly scrutinized. And yet the desire for this to be an “Islamophobic” crime remains. Here’s from an op-ed in the latest Harvard Crimson (bolding is mine)
At Stanford University, campus police are investigating allegations that a student wearing a shirt with the Syrian city of Damascus written in Arabic on it was struck by a car, the driver of which yelled, “Fuck you people.” At George Washington University, students reported instances of strangers ripping hijabs from the heads of Muslim students. And at Yale University, a message declaring “Death to Palestine” was found written on a whiteboard inside of a student dorm building.
On Nov. 25, this bigotry turned into bullets.
That day, three Palestinian college students in Vermont were shot while speaking Arabic and wearing keffiyehs, traditional Palestinian scarves. That attack on Hisham Awartani, a student at Brown University; Kinnan Abdalhamid, a student at Haverford University; and Tahseen Ali Ahmed, a student at Trinity University, should remind the nation of the consequences of ignoring anti-Palestinian racism.
These racist attacks are not isolated incidents.
Note the complete lack of doubt in the bit above.
VICE News, an uber-woke organ, has combed through Eaton’s social media posts, and though there’s evidence of an unbalanced mind (Eaton struggled with depression and also went through 19 jobs in nine years), there’s not a hint of hatred of Muslims or Arabs. Nevertheless, the VICE article is called “Everything we now abut the man accused of shooting three Palestinian students in Vermont” with the dark subheading, “Social media accounts linked to Jason J. Eaton by VICE News show a number of troubling posts.” Troubling? Any sign of “Islamophobia”?
Nope; the “troubling” bit is that his posts often appeared unhinged. Here’s what VICE dug up:
But Business Insider also cited evidence, first uncovered by Vice, of a “conspiratorial” bent in posts on what appear to be Eaton’s social media accounts, most of which have since been deleted or locked. One, on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, said “Libertarians want trans furrys to be able to protect their cannabis farms with unregistered machine guns.”
Further evidence of Eaton’s worldview comes in 2004, when the Portsmouth Herald in New Hampshire, which belongs to the USA TODAY Network, reported Eaton was presenting a lecture at a local church about, in Eaton’s words, “taking back the money and power that consumers have ceded to multinational corporations.”
And there’s this:
One of Eaton’s struggles was with romantic relationships, according to a police report. On Oct. 21, 2019, two officers from the Dewitt Police Department in New York, near Syracuse, were dispatched to the residence of a woman who had a previous relationship with Eaton, but who said he was now continuing to text her after she told him to stop.
No mention of Muslims yet. Here’s an implicit accusation of anti-Muslim bigotry from a Professor at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard:
THE FACE OF THE FUTURE?
THIS may be the face of the future—unless Americans address hate within. Jason Eaton was charged w/ 3 counts of 2nd degree attempted murder after allegedly shooting 3 Palestinian students. We need a moral makeover, if not plastic surgery. #Islamophobia pic.twitter.com/GKRJTcgVRc
— Rev. & Prof. Cornell William Brooks (@CornellWBrooks) November 27, 2023
You can find any number of Muslims who are convinced that this was a hate crime motivated by anti-Islamic sentiment itself inflamed by the war. Here’s part of an NPR interview with Abed Ayoub, National Executive Director, Arab American Anti-Discrimination Committee (my bolding)
As we reported, we still don’t know what the motive is here, whether this was a random attack or whether these young men were specifically targeted because they’re Palestinian.
The families, as you know, put out a statement today saying they clearly believe that this is a hate crime. And I want to read an excerpt of this. They place the blame on: “U.S. media and even elected officials from the highest levels of the government have repeated racist and dehumanizing language in recent weeks. This hateful rhetoric emboldens people to act with violence.”
I’m curious, do you share that same belief?
Our belief has been that the rhetoric against Arabs, against Palestinians in this country, the dehumanization of Palestinians would eventually lead to these violent hate crimes we’re seeing. That’s exactly what’s happening. That’s what happened in Chicago to Wadea, the 6-year-old was stabbed.
That’s what happened in this situation and other examples that our office has been fielding across the country since early October. So the rhetoric, the way we’re being dehumanized and the way Arabs and Palestinians are being portrayed leads to these violent hate crimes.
And, unfortunately, this may not be the last incident we hear of, unless there’s an effort to change the rhetoric and to change the way we are being portrayed.
I could give many more examples, but you can look them up yourself The point is that people are willing to believe something without any evidence, and that “something” is what fulfills the ideological narrative they’ve embraced. One would think that Muslims and advocates of comity would be happy if there were no evidence that Eaton hated Muslims. Then it would be a simple “non hate” crime, perhaps one prompted by an unstable mind, and Islamophobia wouldn’t be as pervasive. But people seem to want that not to be true.
It’s also an example of how the divisiveness of people based on their identity has become embedded in society. If a Muslim, black, or Jew has been killed, we assume automatically that their race or religion was a factor. But really: we need some evidence before rushing to judgement.