August 18, 2003

The State of Serial Killers

In David Fincherís nightmarish film Seven, Kevin Spacey plays John Doe, mad Bible man and the creepiest on-screen killer since Hannibal Lector. John hated sinners and he set out to kill seven, one victim for each of the Deadly Sins; Gluttony, Pride, Envy, Lust, Anger, Greed, and Sloth.

johndoe.jpg

Now Iran has its own flesh-and-blood version.

When the drought ended and the rains came, Saeed Hanaei believed that it was a sign from God that his killing spree had divine approval. "I realised God looked favourably on me. That he had taken notice of my work," Hanaei said. With 12 prostitutes already dead by his hands, Hanaei carried on his "work" and strangled at least four more women after luring them to his house in the Iranian city of Mashhad.
You can imagine if this guy were American what the media would say about him.

But he isnít American. He is Iranian. And the Iranian media, controlled by the state, arenít so sure heís even a bad guy.

The case provoked a debate between reformers who condemned the authorities for failing to catch him earlier and some conservatives who shared the killer's disgust with a rise in prostitution.

"Who is to be judged?" wrote the conservative newspaper Jomhuri Islami. "Those who look to eradicate the sickness or those who stand at the root of the corruption?"

Itís not surprising that the mullahs canít quite come out against him. He is not so different from them; self-righteous, psychotic, intolerant, fundamentalist, and murderous. The only difference between him and the state is his freelancing.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at August 18, 2003 07:03 PM
Comments

Here's what I'm still waiting for: an officially recognized, noteworthy mainstream American (or any other nationality, really) Islamic group to come out and publicly denounce the actions of the fundamentalists world-wide who corrupt the teachings of their religions and who spread hate, bigotry and violence in the name of Allah.

I understand everything I've read about how many American Muslims are so against the actions of Islamic fundamentalists and terrorists, but until I see an organized campaign or movement designed to educate their people and take back their religion from these fanatics, I will find it hard to believe their sincerity. I will find it hard to believe that Islamic fundamentalists and terrorists are actually on the fringe as it would be believed....

Posted by: Barry at August 18, 2003 08:40 PM

Barry,

At least most of the young people in Iran are against this crap. And I know a few Muslims personally who are strongly against it. They aren't public figures, but they're around.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at August 18, 2003 08:42 PM

Michael

Yes, but they need to stop being the SILENT majority! There is no shortage of nuts that are extremely vocal about all the wrong things. How about a call for some sanity? Where is the public outrage from the less radical Muslims?

Semper Fi

Posted by: RickM at August 19, 2003 03:55 AM

Rick - they're hardly being silent about it. The problem is, nobody's listening. Or, rather, the mainstream media isn't listening. I still hold out hope that Iran can be the Middle-East's Czechoslovakia; I'm starting to worry that it'll turn into Romania instead.

Posted by: George at August 19, 2003 05:56 AM

George:

I live in DC. I don't see thousands of American Muslims in the streets demanding some sanity. For that matter, I don't see the moderates in the streets in the Middle East. Until there is a public outcry that will drown out the crazies, the media is not going to care. Iran is the exception, not the rule.

Semper Fi

Posted by: RickM at August 19, 2003 07:12 AM

How many Episcopalians do you see out in the streets denouncing Jerry Fallwell? By definition, it's not the sort of thing moderates really cotton to. Traditional Islam in particular tends to be quietist. But there are plenty of websites and publications out there representing mainstream and progressive Islam.

Posted by: mollpeartree at August 19, 2003 07:19 AM

Now if only Saeed Hanaei can do something about Gwyneth Paltrow....

Posted by: Steve Smith at August 19, 2003 08:38 AM

Mollpeartree:

How many Episcopalians blew up the UN building in Baghdad today?

Semper Fi

Posted by: RickM at August 19, 2003 09:58 AM

RickM,

Did you completely miss out on the Iranian protests? Iranians have been increasingly out in the streets in their own country. In regards to here in the States, have Catholics been marching in DC against the IRA? As mollpeartree put it, have Episcopaleans been marching against Fallwell? More broadly, since you're referring generally to "Muslims", have Christians been marching through DC against Pat Robertson's good Baptist friend Charles Taylor?

American Muslims aren't under obligation to put you personally at ease through large scale public displays of moderation.

All that said, I do wonder why I don't read about Iraqis hitting the streets to protest the Islamic terrorists who won't be satisfied until Iraq becomes another Afghanistan circa August 2001.

Posted by: Christopher Luebcke at August 19, 2003 10:00 AM

Christopher:

From the post above "Iran is the exception, not the rule". No argument there. Malaysia had some moderates in the streets a couple of times too. Let's see, that only leaves SA, Lebanon, Egypt, Libya, the US, ...

As for "American Muslims aren't under obligation to put you personally at ease through large scale public displays of moderation.", I'd be more "at ease" with anything past the same old lackluster condemnation to the press.

Semper Fi

Posted by: RickM at August 19, 2003 10:47 AM

And this is different from the Christian fundamentalist attitudes toward Eric Rudolph how . . .?

Posted by: Kimmitt at August 19, 2003 11:54 AM

Totten's hottentots:
You know about the Green River killings-- Ridgeway killed prostitutes.

Isn't it comforting how different the local reactions (including people who listen to Pat Robertson) have been to his capture, compared to the Iranian mullah reaction to Hanaei?
Sheriff Reichert, the cop who made this his main priority is a conservative Christian... does anyone think he dragged his feet since the victims were prostitutes? No, he was passionate about stopping Ridgeway.

Comparison of the Bible-quoting killer from se7en to Saeed Hanaei has got me thinking about how often Hollywood has used that juxtaposition, of villainy and Bible-thumping: Cape Fear, Death Wish 2, Shawshank Redemption, that recent Bill Paxton movie, and others.
It's obviously had some resonance and effect, judging by the comments above. Anti-Christian bigotry is still P.C., I guess... which brings me to...

...Kimmitt, what the heck are you talking about?
Please read this:
http://bleedingheartconservative.blogspot.com/2003_06_01_bleedingheartconservative_archive.html#105457702907654306

(I tried html linking that, didn't take, sorry)

Posted by: Bleeding Heart Conservative at August 19, 2003 12:22 PM

Rick, I know what you mean. At first, this bothered me too. In the wake of September 11, I expected to see many expressions of loyalty from Muslim-Americans. I thought they'd outdo themselves demostrating thier patriotism and lack of allegiance with the extremists. I was disappointed.

All we saw on televion were Muslims whining about airport security, Muslims whining about racial profiling, and Muslims whining about alleged police harassment. If asked, point-blank, about the attacks, the Muslims would only mutter a few words about how the hijackers "weren't true Muslims," and then go back to denouncing the airport security screeners. You'd expect to see Muslims foaming at the mouth, just like the rest of us were, condemning the hijackers as monsters and psychopaths. You didn't see it, though.

At first, this bothered me a lot. I didn't understand why the Muslims on television were acting that way.

But then I figured it out: the Muslim response to September 11 was actually the most American of responses. Americans are whiners! We complain about everything. No one likes the new airport security regulations. I myself don't think it's fair to complain about them, but whenever I fly, plenty of people do; maybe even most people. We complain about the government, we complain about discrimination, and we complain about pretty much everything else in life. Ask the average American on the street whether he has any complaints, and be prepared to get an earful.

Their reaction to the suicide bombers is similar. American Muslims feel no connection to the suicide bombers; they are a bunch of lunatics from places like Egypt and Saudi Arabia. It's not fair for us to expect American Muslims to apologize for the suicide bombers, because the suicide bombers are not their peers. It's as if an American Catholic were asked to discuss IRA terrorists, or if an NRA member were asked to discuss Timothy McVeigh. You wouldn't see any firey "denunciations." The American Catholic would probably respond that the IRA members aren't "true Catholics," and the NRA member would say that McVeigh is a "nut." But they wouldn't get all emotional about it and issued a heated condemnation. Why should they? What do a bunch of IRA fanatics and right-wing extremists have ot do with an ordinary American Catholic or gun owner? The answer is nothing!

This realization made me feel a lot better about Muslim-Americans. They are acting just as the rest of us would act if we were in their shoes. That said, I do think they should shut up about racial profiling and police "harassment." When I fly, I enthusiastically support racial profiling, and I do not believe the stories of police harassment. But these complaints don't mean that the Muslims are somehow sympathetic to the terrorists. It just means that they are ordinary Americans who are more concerned about mortgage payments and getting the minivan fixed than with world affairs and the theology of terrorism.

Posted by: Joe Schmoe at August 19, 2003 12:55 PM

Joe:

You had me going there for a second and then you just leaped right into a pit. Don't confuse Americans with the little whine-fest you just had. Americans, about 150,000 of them, are doing more than whining. They are resolving this issue.

I'm not looking for the average muslim to throw themselves on the suicide bombers (I like Fox's name better, Homicide Bombers). Where is their leadership? Where are the leaders of Islam? Nobody is there to take responsibility in the Muslim world. It's too easy to wring the hands, condemn the act and then wait for the next one.

I'm being told every night on the news that it is normal for Iraqi's to have automatic weapons. Hell, we've even been accused of "misunderstanding" their society when a couple of them got tapped for carrying them around American troops. Why aren't those weapons being used against those that are proliferating this madness? I guarantee you that if the bombers in Iraq or Israel just all of a sudden started showing up dead from other Middle Easterners, the motivation would quickly evaporate. But no, it's easier to blame others.

This is not just about Iraq. This is about a religious body declaring war on me. I don't live in the Middle East, I don't live in Israel, I'm not even Jewish. However, given the fact that I'm an American, they are perfectly willing to slip a knife into my ribs. Not only that but they'll happily do the same to my children and even my children's children. The fact that those two little girls are only four or two doesn't even make it into the equation. That kind of pisses me off.

You throw names like Jerry Fallwell, Eric Rudolph and Pat Robertson into the mix. So what? They are idiots. The fact that they are idiots and they waste the air they breath doesn't bring the 40 people dead today and 200 injured today back. Eric Rudolph was hunted down like the animal he is by our law enforcement. It's called TAKING RESPONSIBILITY! If Jerry Falwell called for a Jihad against ANY group, he would be ruined. It's called TAKING RESPONSIBILITY!

Off my soap box

Semper Fi

Posted by: RickM at August 19, 2003 01:50 PM

There was a great deal of anger when Falwell tried to blame America for 911. God's punishment for being gay and feminist or something like that he claimed. People like Falwell are still largely fringe characters. I saw more anger expressed by Christian Fundamentalists at Falwell than I've seen from Muslims. I personally know Muslims who are against the terrorism, but in my experience with them, they seem reluctant to say these things to their more extremist friends.

Sadly, I don't think the Middle East will turn its back on the terrorists until the terrorists kill more Muslims. That will be the trigger.

Posted by: linden at August 19, 2003 02:58 PM

Rick, let's take our neighbors as an example. They're Muslims. She wears a veil and traditional Islamic dress. Their teenage daughter wears a head scarf and modern western clothing. I confess that it's kind of funny to see her out jogging with the head scarf but without adequate support. I realize that this comment reveals my depraved nature, but c'est la vie...

Anyway, he owns a convenience store. She's a housewife. They are from Iran.

Our neighbors are ordinary, suburban Americans. He spends his day at work, working behind the cash register and ordering and stocking inventory. She spends her day watching TV, talking on the phone, cooking, cleaning, and shopping. Their daughter is a college student. On Saturday mornings, I think they go to the mosque. We ususally wash our cars at about the same time on Saturday afternoons. On Sundays they stay home.

If someone were to interveiw my neighbor, I bet he'd react just like the Muslims on TV, except that he wouldn't complain about airport security or racial profiling becuase he hasn't ever been harassed by the authorities. If asked about terrorism, he'd probably say that they aren't "true Muslims." He probably wouldn't give an impassioned speech denouncing terrorists and proclaiming his loyalty to America.

Why is this? Is it because he harbors some secret sympathy for the terrorists? No, it's becuase he has NOTHING TO DO WITH the terrorists. They are totally alien to him. He's a middle-class American business owner. Yes, he pracitces the same religion. Yes, he probably does have some sympathy for the Palestinian cause, thogh we've never discussed it. But is he going to strap on an explosive belt and kill a bunch of innocent people? Not in a million years.

Think of it like this: My wife and I are Catholic. I am pro-choice (personally opposed, but think everyone should have the right to choose); my wife is a pro-lifer. She's never gone to any abortion clinic protests, doesn't know anyone in Operation RESCUE, and has never passed out grusome photographs of dead fetuses. She thinks that people who do are estremist lunatics. She certianly has no sympathy for them.

If someone were to stick a television camera in my wife's face and ask her for an opinion on Eric Rudolph, she'd probably mutter a few words about how he's unbalanced and isn't a "true christian." She wouldn't launch into a canned, heated "denunciation" of him and his methods. Why should she? What in the world has Eric Rudolph got to do with her? Sure, they are both pro-lifers, but come on...she's no terrorist. Why should she have to fervently prove that she isn't? Why are you asking her about a bunch of extremists who she has nothing in common with other than a belief that abortion is wrong?

That is what I think is going on with the American Muslims. We sometimes think that anyone with a head scarf and a beard is a spokesman for the whole religion, but that really isn't fair. Most of them are just ordiary Americans who go abotu their ordinary, boring lives and don't give much thought to the motivations or ideologies of a band of lunatics.

I realize that I'm basically making the "don't scapegoat...Islam is a diverse religon...people's views are highly complex" argument, but it's really true. If you or I were pro-lifers and were interviewed about Eric Rudolph, we would not feel as if the weight of the entire movement had suddenly been placed upon our shoulders.

On another note, I'm a big believer in the Second Amendment, but this doesn't mean that I feel any obligation to denounce Timothy McVeigh. I'm an ordinary person, and he's a lunatic. So what if we share the same views? I am supposed to get all defensive and prove that I'm not a milittia sympathizer? Am I supposed to go to "anti-McVeigh" rallies just because I once was a memebr of the NRA? That's how I think most American Muslims feel.

Posted by: Joe Schmoe at August 19, 2003 05:57 PM

The Bleeding Heart Conservative Link was Bloggered and thus I cannot find it. If you could post the date of the post you are attempting to link it to, I would be obliged.

Orcinus on June 4, 2003 might help you to get sense of where I see the Rudolph support.

dneiwert.blogspot.com

Posted by: Kimmitt at August 19, 2003 06:58 PM

Kimmet,

Sure it is the June 2 archive, should be at the very bottom of the main page.

http://bleedingheartconservative.blogspot.com

Posted by: Bleeding Heart Conservative at August 19, 2003 10:09 PM

Joe:

Perhaps my point in all of this is that your neighbor SHOULD be doing something about it. And if you are your neighbors friend so should you. The Muslims that are doing this are doing this in your neighbors name and in the name of his wife. They are screaming, in your face, self proclaimed religious zealots that are doing this in the name of Allah for all Muslims. Those that don't agree with them had better get in the game and let the world know that the terrorists are NOT representing them.

The example you use of you and your wife does not necessarily work for your argument. For every pro-choice march there is a pro-life march, and vice-versa. For every KKK march there is a counter march and the majority of the counter marchers are white. Why? Because I will not let myself be sullied with the label of "racist". I will not let my African-American family and friends think that "white" America condones such hatefullness.

We choose to get involved or not. If you and your neighbors choose to "go about their ordinary, boring lives and don't give much thought to the motivations or ideologies of a band of lunatics" how will the rest of the world know that there is anyone different?

Semper Fi

Posted by: RickM at August 20, 2003 04:04 AM



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Paul Berman, The American Prospect

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