Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL) is running for re-election on a platform of fear-mongering and Muslim bashing. As part of the right wing’s modern-day version of the Red Scare, Walsh has demagogued about the secret Muslim plan to take over the country. As a consequence of this continued recklessness, violence against Muslims has continued to increase throughout the country. A Mosque was burned to the ground in Missouri last week, a White Supremacist murdered 6 Sikhs in Wisconsin (almost certainly mistaking them for Muslims) and now a man has opened fire on a Mosque filled with worshippers.
Fortunately, this time the shooter used what is being reported as a “high velocity air rifle” instead of an actual rifle. The Chicago Sun Times reports:
David Conrad, 51, lives just east of the mosque and faces three counts of aggravated discharge of a firearm, a class X felony, and one count of criminal damage to property, a class 4 felony, Morton Grove police said in an early Sunday press release.
Authorities began investigating after a 9 p.m. Friday night shooting, while worshippers were celebrating the holy month of Ramadan at the Muslim Education Center, 8601 N. Menard Avenue, according to police and mosque officials.
Off-duty Chicago Police officers, who been hired to provide additional security at the mosque during Ramadan activities, called Morton Grove police after they saw an object whiz by and hit the building just above the head of one of the officers, according to Kamran Hussain, Vice President of the Muslim Community Center of Chicago, which owns the mosque.
The fact that there needed to be security guards at all is a sad statement in, and of, itself.
Conrad’s poorly thought out assault has resulted in his being charged with three counts of aggravated discharge of a firearm, a Class X felony and one count of criminal damage to property, a Class 4 felony. The Class 4 carries a sentence of only 1-3 years but each of the Class X charges carry a 6-30 year mandatory sentence. Class X felonies are not eligible for probation in Illinois.
The attack came on the heels of yet another incendiary speech by Rep. Walsh in which he named specific communities in Illinois that were harboring Muslim ”radicals.” Video via CBS Chicago:
While it is possible Conrad has never even heard of Rep. Walsh, it is very unlikely. The same is true of the impending claim that Walsh’s fear-mongering didn’t have anything to do with the atmosphere in which Conrad thought it was appropriate to shoot at a Mosque that he has been antagonizing for several years. That would like suggesting that pouring gasoline in the basement and handing matches to a group of five year olds couldn’t possibly have anything to do with the fire that burned the house down. It’s theoretically possible that a bolt of lightning hit the house instead but I wouldn’t place any bets on it.
The rhetoric of hate is like Global Warming, it’s not that it is directly responsible for every hate crime but it drastically increases the likelihood that such crimes will occur and when they do, they’re more severe. That an elected official would have so little regard for the lives and safety of his Muslim constituents for the sake of political points is unconscionable.
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