The Corner

Mohammed Salman Hamdani: A Hero All Along

My piece from last night on Rep. Keith Ellison’s testimony has generated loads of debate. For part of my argument, I used a risky tactic — I relied on, as it were, the dog that didn’t bark. In this case, that was the lack of archived newspaper reports, angry bloggers, etc., accusing Hamdani of being a terrorist. If the climate was what Keith Ellison insinuated — all sorts of nasty rumors circulating about Hamdani just because he was Muslim, etc. — those dogs should have barked.

And I didn’t hear them barking. And others didn’t either, and followed my conclusion that Ellison’s speech was pretty phony. So Media Matters and others took up the challenge. They offer several rebuttals. First, their main trump card is…the very same New York Post article cited and chewed over in my own piece. So that fails as a refutation. Media Matters also cites a New Yorker article from December, 2002. But this one celebrates Hamdani and claims he was defamed. In other words, the New Yorker piece is just another after-the-fact replication of the emergent narrative of Hamdani’s ill-treatment, rather than an original source demonstrating the fact. Same with the New York Times eulogy, which others cite. It replicates the narrative, without telling us who exactly did this defaming.

But I’ll admit to one big omission. There was also a brief report from the New York Times (from October 12, the same day as the Post story) that I missed. I regret the omission, especially because the Times piece so wonderfully proves my point. Read it yourself! Critics cite it as more vicious media rumors about Hamdani, but it is in fact a celebration of his family. The Times briefly notes, “The F.B.I. want to talk to him, government officials said yesterday.” And then it closes with this:

Mr. Hamdani took the police test and did well, according to government officials. His aunt said he had recently graduated from Queens College.

At the family’s house, where Mr. Hamdani lived with his parents and a younger brother, an American flag fluttered in the breeze, its pole attached to the front porch behind a neatly kept lawn.

The family van displayed another flag on its antenna, and a ‘’God Bless America’’ bumper sticker.

So this (“…an American flag fluttered in the breeze…”) is supposed to be the proof of the climate of anti-Muslim hatred against Hamdani? #more#

Finally, what the critics lack in facts they make up for in connotations. What I find most revolting is the insinuation that the piece is in some way anti-Muslim. That’s just wrong. The whole point is to acknowledge and honor Mohammed Salman Hamdani as a hero, and to celebrate an America that has — outside of the brief, easily explained, and quickly abandoned curiosity of the FBI — honored him as such all along, by defending him against Representative Ellison’s deceptive political appropriation. Ellison’s innuendos were misleading, and his claim that Hamdani wasn’t honored until his remains were found was flat out wrong.

If my facts are wrong, I want to correct them. But so far I’ve mostly seen angry gestures from people who are strangely committed to a dubious narrative of victimization where the facts show a story of inclusion.

Mohammed Salman Hamdani was a hero who was highly and justly honored by an America that came together post-9/11. He should be remembered that way.


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