Yesterday, The Dallas Morning News ran a well-reported front-page piece on the killings of Sarah and Amina Said, which laid out the sordid tale of an angry, controlling father who terrorized his daughters for years. Yaser Said, it turns out, is a Muslim immigrant from Egypt who used misogynistic beliefs from his native land to justify the constant abuse and fear he inflicted in his home. Said is the chief suspect in his daughters' slayings, but local law-enforcement officials have yet to find him -- it's possible, they say, he's fled to Egypt.
For days, News columnist Rod Dreher has been writing, with a sort of told-ya-so glee, about the revelations on his Crunchy Con blog at Beliefnet, and however rational his thoughts might be compared to other bullhorn pundits, he and everyone else joining the conservative media chorus ranting feverishly about “honor killings” seem to be drawing just one lesson from this horrific crime. It’s something like this: “See, we told you the Muslims among us are crude, dangerous barbarians, just like the wackos who destroyed the Twin Towers, and here’s more proof! See, we told you we shouldn’t issue those A-rabs visas or engage in dialogue with their dirty governments!”
I just got an e-mail from one of those red-blooded Americans convinced that immigration is to blame for all of our country’s problems, and he cites the Said killings: “Do we want more of this?” he writes. “Keep issuing more visas and citizenships to Muslims and we will get more of it.” Then he included a link to his favorite Muslim-hating Ann Coulter-wannabe, Debbie Schlussel. Here are some highlights from Schlussel:
“The location where the shootings of the daughters took place -- or at least where their father's taxicab containing their dead bodies was found -- was a hotel parking lot, ironically, right across the street from Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Dallas Headquarters (known as the Dallas SAC -- or Special Agent in Charge -- Office) ... Los Colinas, this Dallas suburb where the bodies were found and where ICE is located, is near suburbs with a huge Muslim population. There are many Muslims in the Dallas-Ft. Worth metroplex, which is now the fourth largest metropolitan area of the country.”
The horror. And she’s not done.
“Dallas suburbs, Irving and Arlington, have large Islamic populations and more than a couple of Mosques. The Muslim population is from all over Muslim-dominated regions of the world and includes large populations hailing from Somalia, Jordon, Egypt, Iran, Iraq.”
Um, Debbie, perhaps you should learn to spell? This is how she wraps up:
“Until things change -- with our immigration policy regarding who we let in and regarding who we round up -- there will be more and more Yaser Abdel Saids and more and more daughters and others murdered on our shores in the name of Islamic honor.”
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Now, I’m not arguing that Said’s religion and culture had nothing to do with the violence he unleashed upon his family, only, it's important to keep it in context. The thing is, violent, disturbed people of all religions and ethnicities use extremist ideologies to rationalize their irrational acts. To jump from that reality to the argument that we should purge our land of dangerous Muslim barbarians is as ignorant as it is reprehensible.
The most horrifying problem exposed by the Said shootings -- one that cuts across all racial, ethnic and religious lines -- is domestic violence, and Shlussel and her ilk haven’t mentioned it once.
Said married Sarah and Amina’s American mother when she was 15 years old. And according to The News’ story, he routinely sexually, physically and emotionally abused the girls from the time they were small children. They showed up at school with bruises, cuts and scrapes, told their friends they were terrified of him, and before Christmas, Sarah told friends that he’d threatened to kill her sister. As for their mother? She initially took the girls and fled to Tulsa, but guilt drove her back to her husband by New Year’s Eve -- a textbook example of battered women’s behavior.
So why don’t people stop shouting about the evils of Islam and start talking about how to protect women and children who have been so brutalized, and are so utterly dominated by their abusers that they are powerless to protect themselves? It happens all the time, and not just in immigrant families. --Megan Feldman