On the night of Sept. 11, 2011, three men were brutally murdered in Waltham, Massachusetts — their throats slashed and bodies covered in marijuana.
Despite the gruesome nature of the crime, which one investigator described as “the worst bloodbath” he had ever seen, the national media would have never reported on this story, let alone identified the Jewish religion of at least two of the slain, had Tamerlan Tsarnaev, a Muslim and close friend of the third victim, not carried out the Boston bombing.
In fact, in spite of Tsarnaev’s ties to the victims of these yet unsolved murders, to this day articles almost specifically de-emphasize the date of the crime, the fact that as the same investigator described it, the victims’ wounds were akin to those of “an Al-Qaeda training video,” and the religion of the slain.
Contrast this story with the horrific news that three Muslims were murdered execution style in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Unlike in the Waltham triple homicide, this story was explicitly reported as I just laid it out – a man killed three Muslims – a man, mind you, who many reports neglected to note is a militantly anti-religious atheist progressive.
In spite of the fact that stories ran across practically every major publication, with articles from The New York Times to The Wall Street Journal referring to a triple murder of Muslims, social media exploded, with individuals appalled that the crime was somehow being ignored.
The #MuslimLivesMatter hashtag, adopted from the #blacklivesmatter hashtag created in the wake of the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases went viral, signaling presumably that people believe atrocities are being carried out against Muslims en masse.
The juxtaposition of these two stories is instructive when it comes to today’s media.
While we might excuse the media in the case of the Waltham homicide for originally ignoring the date, nature of murder and religious identity of the victims, given their involvement with marijuana and law enforcement’s original public hypothesis that the murder was drug related, it is telling that these facts continue to be largely ignored in coverage of the murders.
Conversely, in the case of the Chapel Hill murders, religion was explicitly injected into the story from the start, leading many readers naturally to ascribe an anti-Muslim motive to the triple homicide. Meanwhile, local police believe the murders stemmed from an altercation over a parking space.
It is ironic that in the wake of President Barack Obama’s remarks about a “random” attack by a Muslim terrorist on a Kosher supermarket — note that the White House will not call it a jihadist attack on Jews — in the case of the victims in North Carolina, again from the start they were identified as Muslims. Randomness is clearly in the eye of the beholder.