This past August a young Muslim student at Ohio State University, Abdul Razak Ali Artan, was interviewed by the local college paper, The Lantern. In the interview Artan, a recent immigrant from Somalia, described his perceptions of anti-Muslim sentiments around him. “I wanted to pray in the open, but I was scared with everything going on in the media. I’m a Muslim, it’s not what the media portrays me to be. If people look at me, a Muslim praying, I don’t know what they’re going to think, what’s going to happen. But, I don’t blame them. It’s the media that put that picture in their heads so they’re just going to have it and it, it’s going to make them feel uncomfortable.”A couple months later, Artan went on an anti-American rant on Facebook, posting among other things, “I am sick and tired of seeing [Muslims] killed and tortured EVERYWHERE.” Then, Artan took a knife, got into his car, and went on a rampage that left eleven injured before the police were able to shoot him.
As Ben Shapiro observes, the sequence of events leaves us with one of two options. Either Artan was not yet radicalized during the August interview, and underwent a rapid radicalization in the span of three months. Or (more likely), Artan was already on the path to fanaticism at the time of he interview. Either way, it is quite obvious to anyone who has ever stepped foot onto a college campus that they are hardly hotbeds of anti-Muslim sentiment. After all, Artan was able to pray in middle of the university without encountering any opposition. Ohio State boasts a Muslim student organization and even offers a major in Islamic Studies. So how did Artan manage to convince himself that he was surrounded by a hostile environment? Or, was he simply taking advantage of an interview he knew would accept his claims of Islamophobia at face value?
In its attitudes towards the weak and vulnerable, societies tend to swing between two poles. At one extreme the weak and vulnerable are cruelly dismissed, swept aside as lesser beings. At the other, weakness and vulnerability are glorified. Unfortunately, liberalism today has swung to the latter extreme. Instead of helping them up, the radical liberal culture encourages them to wallow in self-pity. Blame, not responsibility, is encouraged. Facing difficulty? Run to a safe space. Don’t like someone else’s point of view? Don’t allow him or her to speak. The result? Instead of growth, stagnation. In this case, it may well have led to radicalization.