Murder in Chapel Hill: This Was Not About Parking and Why That Matters

This fits right in with what I’ve been writing about peace, and with what Martin Luther King, Jr. is quoted as saying, that “we will learn to live together as brothers, or we will die together as fools.” I prefer peace.

Shalom Rav


There has been so much – far too much – media discussion as to whether or not the tragic murder of three Muslim-American students, Deah Shaddy Barakat, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, was a hate crime or merely a parking dispute. During the course of this open conversation, some very well-meaning people have asked, why does it matter if Craig Stephen Hicks killed these three young people because they were Muslim? Hate is hate. Regardless of the murderers specific motivation, three infinitely precious lives have been snuffed out forever.

That is the kind of comment that can only be made by someone who has never felt discriminated against or targeted because of the group to which he/she belongs.

Why does it matter? Because too often, these kinds of crimes are not simply random acts of hate. They are part of a larger pattern. And unless we recognize these patterns…

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About gwpj

Originally from Seattle, I now live in Sapporo, Japan, where I write, explore this city, read widely, and ask questions about things that i see as important. I'm also an author, with three novels published ("The Old Man and The Monkey", "Grandfather and The Raven", and "Bear: a story about a boy and his unusual dog"). For more information about my writing, drop by my website, at
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2 Responses to Murder in Chapel Hill: This Was Not About Parking and Why That Matters

  1. gwpj says:

    You want a reply to your comment, Jerry? Read Rabbi Rosen’s most recent post, which I just reblogged here. By the way, your resentment is showing. I’ve commented on the Jewish deaths is Paris elsewhere, and just read about the Copenhagen ones this morning when I read Rabbi Rosen’s blog post. If you don’t know my feelings about these things — about ALL murders, then you don’t want to know. Am I a bit upset with you? Guess.

  2. shatara46 says:

    Jerry, I can’t figure out what it is you are fishing for? This is a discussion, not, I hope, some “progressive group” as you imply. So far, I read expressions of horror to various tragedies brought on by belief systems, whether pro or con, espoused by severely mind-twisted individuals. These belief system motivators have been in motion for thousands of years and crossed every spectrum of Earth humanity groups. All have been victims and perpetrators in turn of these mindless and repetitive atrocities. I sense that you desperately want to pin the blame (and why the need for blame, if not to then legitimize engaging in revenge?) on one particular group for the dysfunction of the entire planet. That’s illogical. Why not focus instead on a possible cure to our craziness and madness? At this stage of the game – and we’re definitely in the last quarter and the visitors are definitely winning, there remains but one move we can make, as a team: become utterly, unreservedly compassionate. I know the management of the team doesn’t want us to try this move and the coach didn’t train us on how to go about it… so we’re bound to suffer in the process. Hell we might even lose the game anyway. Ask Kayla Mueller how it felt to die a martyr’s death for exercising compassion when she could have chosen so many other easier and safer ways. She could have joined the Marines and gone off there blasting away, but she knew we’ve been doing this for ages and we’re only getting farther and farther behind on the scoreboard. I don’t want to sound condescending, I’d be the last person to look down on anyone else, but I sense that you are confused as to which way you should go and you want someone to convince you that when you do choose, it will be the right way. Sadly Jerry, if that were to happen you’d still be a victim, only now you’d also be a slave to whatever belief you accepted, or guru you followed. This is why I “promote” self-empowerment. Don’t ask people what you should do, or tell them what they should do about the troubles we are in: decide this for yourself, then act accordingly. If it means you must get a gun and kill a Muslim neighbour, so be it, Jerry. That’s the freedom we all have to choose our path and our actions. Based on your comments I’m quite sure you would not do what I just wrote, but do you harbor a particularly acrid resentment against terrorists who happen to be Muslim? That’s the poison that continues to stop our desire to live in peace. You make peace by making peace, whatever the cost to yourself. There is no other way. I learned this myself, and through it I found what it means to live in joy. So long ago I would go to bed and wake up with my guts twisted with hate and rage – I wanted the power to smash evil doers, literally. I discovered the cure when I looked inside myself and found the same “evil” I decried in others. Maybe not on the same scale, but that doesn’t matter. I changed “me” – not the world. As a consequence, despite all the hype and obvious dysfunction, the world around “me” has changed. As Kayla Mueller did, I can cry for it, and with it, knowing that I wish it to live in peace even if it did ask me for my life, or just took it because it mindlessly hated what I offered it.

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