The eight a.m. NPR news update today included word of the fatal shooting of one soldier and the wounding of another outside an army recruiting station in Arkansas. The news reader, Nora Raum, outlined the incident and stated that the shooting appeared to have "religious motivations." She did not name the suspect, Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad, or tell NPR listeners what those religious motivations might be. In other words, it could have been a radical Unitarian who gunned down the soldiers, or possibly a violent Presbyterian.
Why the shyness? Why not tell people what is actually happening in the world? We saw this a couple of weeks ago, when the press only gingerly acknowledged that the malevolent though incompetent suspects in the synagogue bombing-conspiracy case in New York were converts to Islam. How is the public served by this kind of silence? The extremist Christian beliefs of George Tiller's alleged murderer are certainly relevant to that case, and no one in my profession is hesitant to discuss them. Why the hesitancy to talk about the motivations of the man who allegedly killed Pvt. William Long?