America is still reeling from the tragic shooting last week in Dallas, in which a gunman opened fire at protest killing five officers and injuring eight. The horrible #Crime made for the deadliest day for police officers in the U.S. since the 9/11 attacks.
Police killed Johnson in the early hours of July 8. And since then, as has been the case with mass killings in recent years, law enforcement, journalists and other observers have sought to untangle the motives that led the shooter to commit this crime. And as usual, those motivations have become a matter of some dispute.
A killer’s worldview
What we know, based on his own words to police, were that the shooter, Micah Xavier Johnson, wanted to kill white people, and white police officers specifically. He was not a member of any group, including Black Lives Matter, which condemned the crime immediately – nor did he pledge allegiance to ISIS, as has been the case with the San Bernadino and Orlando shooters. And according to reporting by The Daily Beast, Johnson had been “blacklisted” by multiple black militant organizations, who considered him mentally unstable.
In the days since the shooting, an ugly undercurrent has emerged: that Johnson “must” have been a Muslim, if not acting on behalf of ISIS or another foreign terror organization. Based on everything we know, this is utterly false.
An 'alias' misunderstanding
The likely genesis of the Johnson-is-a-Muslim belief is an “Investigative Update Regarding the Deadly Attack on Police Officers,” released by the Dallas Police Department the day after the shootings and widely quoted (and misinterpreted) since. After identifying Johnson, the report states that “The suspect’s Facebook account included the following names and information: Fahed Hassen, Richard GRIFFIN aka Professor Griff, GRIFFIN embraces a radical form of Afrocentrism, and GRIFFIN wrote a book A Warrior's Tapestry.”
This paragraph is written in the oft-stilted language of police reports. The identity of Fahed Hassen is unclear, but the name of Richard Griffin is familiar as the member of the supergroup Public Enemy who drew fire nearly 30 years ago for anti-Semitic remarks.
The report does not state that “Fahed Hassen” was an alias used by Johnson; the structure of that sentence indicates that this was the name of someone Johnson had “liked” or was friends with on Facebook, as was Griffin, with whom Johnson had once posed for a picture. (DPD did not respond to a request for comment.)
No subsequent reporting by any reputable outlet or any statement by Dallas Police, the FBI or any other law enforcement entity have added any substance to this theory. But some of the Internet’s less scrupulous people have taken the “alias” theory and run with it.
'Named after Malcolm X'
A blog called Fire Andrea Mitchell appears to have connected that particular (incorrect) dot first. The fanatical anti-Muslim blogger Pamela Geller jumped on it as well, as did Michelle Malkin.
A website called Santa Monica Observed alleged an “Islamic connection” to the crime, inventing out of whole cloth that “five suspects now in Dallas Police custody are self described 'Islamic Americans' who attended a Nation of Islam mosque in the South Dallas area.”
This article and others have also stated that Johnson, because he had the middle initial “X,” was “named after Malcolm X,” but there’s no evidence for this and it doesn’t even make sense: “X” was the initial Malcolm used in lieu of a last name, not his first or middle name, and Johnson’s middle name wasn’t “X,” it was “Xavier.”
Some have noted that among the black militant Facebook pages Johnson liked were a couple associated with the Nation of Islam. I’m not sure there’s any religion on Earth that would accept a Facebook like as a valid conversion.
I realize that there are some people who can’t imagine any act of violence or murder not having Islam attached to it. But based on everything that’s known about the killings in Dallas, that’s not what happened here. #Terrorism