By the time Andrea Mitchell interviewed Valery Levitt, former classmate Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez, she already had a thing or two figured out about the young Muslim who’d murdered at least five U.S. military personnel in a shooting rampage in Chattanooga, Tennessee, last Thursday. He was a typical redneck who clung to his guns and religion. “Were guns a big part of activity — social or other activity?… Did he hunt? Did he shoot? I mean, was that just part of small-town Tennessee activity?” she asked hopefully. Only his religion was Islam. So he must also have suffered “prejudice against him because of his ethnicity.” Right?
Most rednecks don’t have to deal with prejudice — they dispense it — so no wonder the poor lad cracked up! Unfortunately, Ms. Levitt didn’t have a clue about what Andrea was going on about, so that theory didn’t go anywhere.
Which didn’t stop the Washington Post from picking it up on Sunday, and recasting it as the story of a troubled young man torn between a redneck lifestyle and his Muslim faith.
His redneck side caused him to smoke marijuana and snort crushed caffeine pills, and to buy an AK-74, an AR-15, and a Saiga 12 pistol grip shotgun. The things you gotta do to fit in down there!
And then there was his Muslim side. That got him brooding about Israel and U.S. foreign policy. It really ticked him off when his best friend told him he had to serve bacon to customers. And what really, really pissed him off is that his name caused national security alerts. The popular idea that Muslims are terrorists in waiting is just the sort of thing that makes a Muslim pull out a gun and kill a few American servicemen.
His Muslim side also caused him to take several trips to Jordan, “the last in 2014 when he was in the region for seven months.” In the region? Do we know where? Syria, perhaps? Will the Post follow up?
It really is hard out here for a Muslim youth. Especially when your mother files for divorce claiming physical and sexual abuse, which is allowed under Sharia but frowned on by American law. That was in 2009. And though Mom later pulled the petition, we don’t know if the abuse continued, but we do know that the family’s domestic property fell into serious disrepair and was an eyesore in a community of “neatly tended lawns and towering oaks.”
Something was clearly amiss in the Abdulazeez household, and “a person close to the family” said that the son had been in and out of treatment for depression (the Post calls it a “mental illness”), which could not have been made better by the fact that his DUI arrest has been posted online and in “Just Busted,” a newspaper available at local gas stations. “It was kind of degrading to him,” a friend said. It’s about honor, a Muslim thing.
So there’s a lot to be gleaned here that could account for Mohammad’s motive for killing American servicemen. Other than his religion, of course. He’d been fasting for Ramadan; maybe he’d been weakened and confused with hunger. And then there was the fact that the 24 year old never dated. Maybe he was conflicted about a woman. Like Hamlet was conflicted about Ophelia, for example. Everyone got killed at the end of that story. I’m reaching, but there has to be an explanation short of his Islamic faith.
We know it wasn’t his Islamic faith that drove him to it. We knew that even before we knew anything about him.