On Friday, the story of the beheading of a woman by a disgruntled fellow employee broke nationally, and because the suspect is a convert to Islam, the right-wing media immediately retreated into its patented War On Terror Panic Room and Masturbatorium™. Saturday morning, though, former George W. Bush White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer took advantage of a priceless opportunity to attack the real enemy, Barack Obama.
The horrific crime actually occurred on Thursday, when 30-year-old Alton Nolen (whose Muslim name is Jah'Keem Yisrael) reacted to his firing from Moore, Oklahoma's Vaughan Foods by crashing his car in the business' parking lot, then proceeding into the building to attack two female co-workers with a knife that's used at the plant. He killed 54-year-old Colleen Hufford, by what the medical examiner described as "decapitation due to multiple sharp force trauma to neck," and was attacking 43-year-old Traci Johnson when he was shot by Vaughan Foods COO and off-duty sheriff's deputy Mark Vaughan.
The details of the crime are still being investigated, but according to most accounts, Nolen was upset over having just been fired, and according to one local news report, that firing was precipitated by a heated argument over Islam, and whether women should be stoned. Most reports also say Nolen frequently tried to get co-workers to convert to Islam. Given the recent rash of public beheadings by ISIS, it's natural to want to explore possible connections, which is why the FBI is assisting with the investigation.
So far, they've found no specific ties to terrorism, but it's hard to escape the conclusion that those ISIS beheadings didn't at least influence the manner of this killing. However, according to a childhood friend of Nolen's who was interviewed by conservative blog Truth Revolt, the suspect was always headed for a violent end:
"I knew that he had a temper," says (Kenneth) Tucker. "I knew that, like, most of us who grew up where we grew up ... we had attitudes. We grew up in a rough neighborhood and we grew up poor."
Nolen is a convert to Islam, and his Facebook page and his arguments about Islam in the workplace have been prominent news stories today, but Tucker thinks there is more to the picture than religion. "I think it's funny they're trying to push it off as a religious thing," he says. "That's not the only reason people do things that are bad decisions."
This is a frightening crime no matter what, but the conservative impulse to declare everything an "act of terror" like they're calling dibs on the last Twinkie is sick and counterproductive. Some of it is motivated by understandably human fear, but much of it is driven by the twin engines of Muslim-bashing and Obama-bashing. On the latter count, Fleischer is not alone. Right-wing hubs like Breitbart.com and Malkin-born Twitchy have also taken to demanding that President Obama stop dithering and get busy deciding this is terrorism.
Chief among Obama's crimes is that his White House has not commented about this super-important story, as Fox News' Ed Henry told Megyn Kelly on Friday night:
What Henry doesn't tell Fox News viewers is that if the White House is going to comment publicly on an incident like this, they're not going to do it in a bull session with a reporter, they'll do it in a setting like, say, a White House daily briefing. Here's what's weird, though: Ed Henry was at Friday's briefing, and even asked a few questions, but he didn't ask about the Oklahoma beheading. Was it just not as important as the cover of Forbes magazine?
If Henry had asked, Josh Earnest would certainly have still referred him to the ongoing investigation, and maybe have offered thoughts and prayers to the victims and their families, and he'll likely do just that on Monday. As if it matters, the screeching right-wing premise at work here is all wrong anyway, because the President didn't comment on events like the Mike Brown and Trayvon Martin shootings until days and even weeks after the fact, not the next day. As much time as Fox News needed to catch up to this story, the White House needs even more to make sure they don't muck up an investigation, or unduly panic the nation. The media does a fine job at that all by itself.