“Is it irresponsible to speculate? It would be irresponsible not to.” More Noonan Notes.
This week Peggy takes on the Washington Sniper.
It’s over. Or at least it appears to be. Black October is over, and the children around Washington can once again feel safe, or as safe as children these days are allowed to feel. They’re all little veterans of national trauma now.
When I told my son Thursday morning–I stuck my head in his room and said, “They caught the snipers, it’s over”–relief washed across his face like a series of small waves. “Who was it?” he asked. “Are they sure?” He wanted the facts so he could put a picture together in his mind. The picture would be of a monster locked hard behind bars, an unarmed monster in chains.
But then Peggy takes us on E-Ticket ride to Conjectureland:
What a surprise, the profile of the oldest suspect. I imagined a brilliant Ted Bundy-type serial killer, not a more competent Richard Reid or a more elusive Timothy McVeigh, which is how John Allen Muhammad looks to me, at least at the moment. No one who knew him is talking so far of his intellectual gifts. I was also imagining a cell of al Qaeda operatives, not an unaffiliated two-man crew. But then soon we may find out what mosque Muhammad frequented, if any, and what friends he had there, if any, and what assistance he received, if any, and the story may change.
Soon we’ll probably see the pictures of Muhammad posing in the backyard with his rifle, as we did with Oswald. Soon we’ll probably hear reports of abuse of his wives, as Oswald abused his. Soon we’ll hear the facts of his conversion to his new belief. Communism, radical Islam–authoritarian ideologies always seem to promise a sense of coherence to the truly lost.
If they are charged and tried it is hard not to guess that it will be some trial, with Muhammad making speeches, perhaps demanding to represent himself, perhaps eager to tell America how it is evil, a victimizer of the weak of the world, a victimizer of the Muhammads of the world.
Peggy has taken on the great American disease…leaping ahead of the facts. Repeated readings of Tom Clancy have made the average man on the street think he’s a cold war military planner and geo-political strategist. CSI and Thomas Harris books make us feel that we too can be profilers and crime scene investigators. The X-Files teach us that there is a conspiracy behind even the most banal of events (see my own note below on the Wellstone crash). I realize that Ms Noonan is not a journalist, but rather a ‘pundit’, but since Muhammad was just arrested yersterday shouldn’t we wait on just a few facts to get out before trying to make this into a worldwide conspiracy that, if the administration gets it’s way, leads back to saddam Hussein… so, hey, let’s go bomb him?
Noonan would love for this guy to be an al Qaeda supporter because it would fit into her neat little vision of the world. But it’s more likely he’s just a guy who took his perceived grievances on the road, shot some people to make himself feel more in control of the external world, and thought he would pick up some cash while doing it.
Until Muhammad talks, no one really knows, but the chatter of conjecture seems to fill the air.