MAGA Terrorism Is Too Familiar

There's a murder that's been on my mind for a few weeks now. It happened in Peshawar, Pakistan, a large city in the northwest of that country. An American man, Tahir Naseem, from Chicago was in a courtroom there on charges of blasphemy, which means that certain Muslims didn't like the way that Naseem had talked about Islam and Muhammad. Yes, that really is a crime in Pakistan, one that is punishable by life in prison or death. 

In this case, Naseem, who had lived in the U.S. since 1978, had chatted on Facebook with some supposed students, who invited him to Pakistan to debate his beliefs. But, instead, in 2018, Naseem was arrested for calling himself a new prophet, and his trial was being held, finally, on July 29 of this year. That's when Faisal Khan walked up to Naseem in the courtroom and shot him repeatedly, killing Naseem right in front of the judge and lawyers. 

There are lots of reasons why this case has been bugging me. First there's the absurdity of the law itself, which has come under a great deal of criticism in recent years but still remains on the books. Then there's the brazenness of the crime. And then there's the fact that this was an American whose imprisonment we heard almost nothing about until this happened. I'll bet you've heard nothing about it until now, although there was a great NPR piece featuring an interview with Naseem's grown daughter. 

But more details in this horrific act are terribly relevant. For instance, Khan is a teenager (between 15 and 19), and the fact that he was able to get through the supposedly tight security at the courthouse shows that he had the cops on his side. Khan said of Naseem, "“He is an enemy of Islam. He is an enemy of Pakistan," and he claimed that Muhammad came to him in a dream and told him to commit murder.

Khan has been hailed as a hero by a large number of people in Pakistan. There was a march of thousands of Muslims in Peshawar in support of his actions, and there continues to be rallies calling for Khan's release. He was hailed as a hero and a "holy warrior," with lawyers lining up to take his case and defend him.  They all believe that the murder was justified to defend their faith. When Khan was arrested, the police took selfies with him, all smiling. Politicians have gone to his family to "congratulate" them. The Taliban in Pakistan support him. 

I don't know if anyone has set up a GoFundMe for Khan, but you can bet that if they could, they would.

Obviously, we see echoes of Faisal Khan in 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse, who gunned down three people in Kenosha,Wisconsin, killing two. Rittenhouse was also deluded by a kind of faith. Khan saw himself as a defender of Islam. Rittenhouse saw himself as a defender of Trumpism. The Illinois teenager (huh - same state the Naseem was from) had heard from President Donald Trump, among others, that the Black Lives Matter protests in Kenosha in the wake of the attempted murder of Jacob Blake by a police officer were a threat to a certain kind of American way of life. He decided that he had to act as a holy warrior for his MAGA faith. And he got a chance to murder some infidels, with the cops essentially on his side.

Obviously, the aftermath of Rittenhouse's murders is frighteningly like the reaction to Khan in Pakistan. Conservative commentators rushed to defend him. Sniveling hate worm Tucker Carlson said, "How shocked are we that 17-year-olds with rifles decided they had to maintain order when no one else would?" Sentient genital wart Ann Coulter tweeted that Rittenhouse should run for president. He's got some of the skeeviest lawyers around defending him, and one of them called him the equivalent of the Minutemen, the citizen soldiers who actually trained as militias during the Revolutionary War. Yeah, the Minutemen were well-regulated bearers of arms. Trump himself essentially approved of Rittenhouse's actions today. Meanwhile, instead of rallies (although you can see that coming), Rittenhouse has groups raising money for his defense, including those that are Republican, Christian, and/or pro-gun. All this is for a terrorist. That's what Rittenhouse is. That's the purpose of wandering the streets of Kenosha with his gun visible: intimidation and violence to suppress a political view you dislike.

I mean, it's not a stretch at this point to say that Trumpism is our Taliban. Trump supporters seek to turn back the clock to a time when rights for many people were limited, they expect blind obedience to their leader, and they will use violence to get their way. They consider everyone else infidels. And most people were shocked that they took over and aren't sure how to get rid of them. 

Frankly, at this point, the MAGA terrorists are so much like Muslim terrorists that we should ask everyone who supports Trump if they condemn the violence done in Trump's name. Otherwise, we may as well assume that every member of MAGA nation is a terrorist or a terrorist supporter.

That's the way this works, right? 

(Note: At this point, "right-wing extremist terrorism" and "MAGA terrorism" are the same thing. We need not pretend they're not.)