Because Holocaust denial is so much in the press today, we’re hearing a lot about the 6 million Jews who perished during the Holocaust. We hear less about the 250,000 (more or less) who managed to survive. (If my math is correct, that tells me that only 4% of the Jews who entered the camps survived the war, a nauseatingly low survival rate.) These survivors went to Israel, came to America or tried to rebuild their lives in their former communities (a situation that could be as bad as Nazi rule).
Interestingly, reports about these survivors never seem to include horrifying stories about post-war violence that they committed. That is, I’ve never heard of a concentration camp survivor going on a killing rampage. Somehow these people, having been to Hell and back, embraced normalcy. Indeed, many of the survivors I knew as I was growing up said that their ultimate victory over the Nazi death machine was that they did live normal lives.
I’m ruminating on this point because the media is busy creating the new conventional wisdom regarding Sulejman Talovic, the Bosnian Muslim man who massacred four and wounded five in Salt Lake City, which is that he was scarred by his experiences in Bosnian during the 1990s:
The 18-year-old gunman who shot dead five people in a Salt Lake City shopping mall was a survivor of the siege that ended in the Srebrenica massacre of 8,000 Muslims in Bosnia’s 1992-95 war, a cousin said on Wednesday.
Sulejman Talovic, who was killed by police after Monday’s shooting spree in which he also wounded four people, fled his village with his family during the Bosnia war to Srebrenica, a U.N.-protected enclave, Redzo Talovic said.
They spent two years in the town, during which Bosnian Serb forces besieged the enclave and Sulejman’s grandfather was killed by shellfire, Redzo said.
When the Bosnian Serbs overran the town in 1995, taking away and massacring some 8,000 Muslim men and boys, Sulejman and his mother were evacuated by the United Nations and later reunited with his father, Redzo said.
“They were a good, quiet family and I remember that he was a nice kid when he was four or five, maybe a little bit playful,” he said, standing in front of the burnt-out shell of Sulejman’s family home in the village of Talovici, eastern Bosnia.
“No one could have supposed that he was going to do such a thing,” Redzo said. “Who knows what made him do that?” He could not say what marks Sulejman’s childhood memories of wartime Bosnia had left on him.
This could, of course, be entirely true — Talovic’s youthful experiences could have been so terrible that he snapped. But then again, maybe those experiences have nothing to do with the man he became, and they’re certainly an easy way of avoiding a more vexing problem, which is the number of drive-by jihads we’re seeing lately.
This “scarred by war” meme certainly wouldn’t be the first time the media has ascribed killing tendencies to a specific group. You may recall that, for decades, we heard that Vietnam Vets were loaded guns, just waiting to go off. Since my Dad was a WWII vet who’d seen the worst kind of fighting, as had all his peers, I found this peculiar vulnerability in the Vietnam Vets hard to understand. Over and over I’d asking anyone who cared (and many who didn’t), why this group of soldiers, unlike any other group, was unable to return to normal civilian life after the war. Most guessed that it was because of drug use in Vietnam, with some adding that it was because of American hostility when the Vets returned home.
Of course, none guessed that it was because the mythology about the Vets’ violent, anti-social, self-destructive habits was untrue. Most people (myself excluded) were surprised by a significant recent study showing that the “crazy vet” myth was a vastly overblown construct, rather than a reality.
In this case, therefore, I’m taking with a large grain of salt this early attempt to portray Talovic as a kid who was a bomb waiting to go off because of what happened in Bosnia, as opposed to either a crazy psychopathy, or another drive-by jihadist. Until one explanation is proven beyond a reasonable doubt as compared to the others, I’m withholding judgment — something the press should learn to do too.
UPDATE: Robert Spencer looks at circumstantial evidence that supports Islamism as an explanation for Talovic’s acts.
UPDATE II: Welcome Little Green Football readers. It’s always a pleasure when you drop by.
UPDATE III: Reading my post, I realize I didn’t make something clear. As of this writing, the press is not openly advocating the “time bomb waiting to go off” theory. However, to he extent one major news source is trying to obscure Talovic’s Muslim background, while another even more major news source is running human interest stories about his refugee background, I see that as an effort to promote one theory about his acts that will eventually override all other theories. And no, I don’t think there is a media conspiracy to suppress the truth. I just think that there is a inherent bias amongst media members that makes reporters lean inexorably to one theory to the detriment of full reporting about all other theories.