Where are the moderate Muslims? There was one ...

A common criticism against Islam is that there isn't enough condemnation from moderate Muslims when a fundamentalist Muslim does something terrible. (The same sort of criticism can also be made against other religions, notably Christianity.) In my opinion, it's raised a bit too often even when not justified, although sometimes it is, but there's at least one case where the criticism would definitely not apply: a Pakistani governor was murdered by an extremist Muslim for opposing draconian blasphemy laws.

It won't matter if no moderate Muslim ever speaks up condemning this vile act, this is one case where the "moderate Muslims stay quiet" criticism would just earn a bop on the head from me, since it was precisely because he was a moderate Muslim speaking out that got Salman Taseer killed by an intolerant extremist. I may not have agreed with his beliefs, but I respect him enormously for standing up against intolerance. He should not have had to pay the ultimate price for it.

Jealous murder

It's looking more like the knife attack on Americans in Beijing soon after the start of the Olympics has little to do with the victims being foreigners and everything to do with them being a happy family. It appears that Tang Yongming attacked them because he had severe family problems, and seeing a happy family with two parents and their daughter may have triggered a rage that made him attack. Or perhaps he was planning to attack any happy-looking family from the start: it would explain why he was carrying a knife. If this speculation is true, then the timing of the attack coming soon after the start of the Olympics may simply be a coincidence.

While the attack is still inexcusable and does not lessen the tragedy the family has suffered, it would at least indicate that there shouldn't be a repeat of the attack. The good news is that the condition of the wife is improving, so hopefully there will be only one murder victim, which is bad enough.

Murder in the Beijing Olympics

It has been less than a day since the Beijing Olympics has started, but there is already a murder of an American in the city. Was this just an attack by a deranged man? Or was it a politically motivated terrorist attack expressing anti-American sentiments? It might not be easy to figure out his motivations given that the murderer killed himself.

Angered by conservatives, blame liberals

It's very puzzling to me when a man, angry at not being able to get a job and being cut off from food stamps, would go out and shoot at people in a Unitarian Universalist church for their liberalism. Isn't outsourcing and reduction of welfare more of a conservative right agenda? And isn't it the conservative right's agenda for as little oversight and control of the financial markets a big reason for the current severe downturn in the economy? And why did he have to go and shoot at Unitarian Universalists, especially when they had nothing at all to do with his woes?

With Unitarian Universalism being one of the few religions I have great respect for, it's quite sad to hear them being attacked for something they have no responsibility for. Incidents like these also just reinforce the belief that irrational people are often unable to realize the problems they themselves or their beliefs cause, and instead blame the ones who actually want to make things better.

Tourist murdered by North Korea?

The shooting that resulted in the death of a tourist last week is unacceptable by itself. There is no way North Korea could justify the lethal shooting of a 53-year old unarmed housewife, short of her being a threat to another's life or extremely sensitive facilities. And it's laughable to think that such justifying circumstances could have occurred; if she was a threat to someone's life then they would have no reason to hide it and in fact would have every reason to publicize it, and I can't believe that even the North Koreans would be incompetent enough to locate an extremely sensitive facility near a tourist resort. Anything less, even including espionage, would at most rate a detention.

While it would be bad enough if it was just an extremely unfortunate incident caused by an undisciplined and hair-trigger soldier, North Korea seems to be doing everything it can to make it look far worse. While I'm usually skeptical of conspiracy theories, it's as if they want us to believe that this entire incident was staged by the North Korean government. The following facts make the whole thing stink:

  • Previous incursions into restricted areas were merely warned away without shots being fired.

  • North Korea is stonewalling any investigation by outside parties.

  • The account of the incident provided by North Korea is fishy.

    • If the explanation provided by North Korea were correct, then a 53-year old woman would have had to walked 3.3 kilometers, or 2 miles, on sand within 30 minutes, which doesn't sound terribly realistic.
    • Witnesses claim they heard gunshots 30 minutes after when North Korea claims the incident happened.
    • Witnesses also claim that they heard only two gunshots, despite the claim by North Korea that a warning shot was fired before the two lethal shots.
  • North Korea blames South Korea for the incident with no explanation. A North Korean kills an unarmed South Korean and somehow it's the fault of South Korea? How is this supposed to work?

What's going on here? What is North Korea aiming for? What is it they want that would outstrip their desperate need for the large amount of hard currency they earn from the tourist resort? As a non-member of all the governments involved, I feel no compunction about indulging in fanciful speculations:

  • Somehow all the facts are according to North Korea's claims, and the witnesses are just remembering incorrectly. North Korea is just being its usual obstinate self.

  • North Korea did a half-assed job of investigating what happened, and they don't want to get embarrassed by outside investigations showing how incompetent they are.

  • North Korea is trying to do a minor coverup, perhaps trying to protect the responsible solder who might happen to be the son of an important Party member, to hide the fact that he was drunk, or to dodge responsibility for the lack of discipline and sloppy maintenance of the resort boundaries.

  • North Korea is using this unfortunate incident as a chance to break off, or at least dampen, diplomatic relations with South Korea.

  • The tourist was part of an espionage operation by South Korea and was killed when discovered.

  • An internal power play is occurring using this incident as an opportunity, resulting in miscommunications and a sloppy investigation. Or perhaps false information is being deliberately fed to the higher ups in the North Korean government to weaken their power.

  • This was a deliberate act of cold-blooded murder by North Korea for political gain. Perhaps the guarding soldier had standing orders to kill any tourists straying into a restricted area at the earliest opportunity, so it could have been anyone that was shot.

What could be the truth? I have no idea. I just hope that North Korea doesn't get away with it without any negative consequences.