Once again, the right-wing conspiracy theorists were wrong. I suspected as much. Tuesday the "Where's Your Brain" blog theorized that Cho Seung Hui, the Virginia Tech killer, was some sort of Muslim terrorist—because the words "Ismail Ax" were written on one of his arms.
That sounded crazily unlikely to me. I left a comment on the blog post saying as much:
Yeah, and you probably think there Saddam had weapons of mass destruction and supported Al Qaeda, right? I realize that facts are irrelevant to the right-wing brain (truthiness rules!), but this post is particularly ridiculous.
Anything is possible, but not everything is true. The guy was a loner South Korean. Not very likely he was an Islamic terrorist, when you think about it. But of course, you aren't (thinking).
So I wasn't surprised when I saw today that far from exhibiting any Muslim leanings, Cho actually considered himself akin to Jesus. "I die like Jesus Christ, to inspire generations of the weak and defenseless people," he said.
SusanG, a Daily Kos poster, observed that the Internet has been rife with speculation about a connection between Cho and Islamic jihad, with one shoot-from-the-hipper saying, "Islam has become the tribe of choice of those who hate American society."
Somehow I don't think we're going to see a lot of speculation from the same sources in the coming days about whether Jesus Christ is a Rambo role model and Christianity is the "tribe of choice of those who hate American society."
Quite right. I also doubt that there will be much talk about the relation between the craziness of someone who kills 32 people on a college campus, and the craziness of a religious true believer who considers that he has been singled out by God for a special mission to save souls.
One crazy feels that he has a divine warrant to kill souls, the other to save them. Admittedly there are large differences between the two grandiosities. But both are founded in an illogical egocentric worldview that's virtually immune to disproof by more reasonable minds.
I'm not saying that religion turns people into sociopathic mass murderers. But those who have passed over the edge of normal mental functioning often find a comfortable, though bizarrely decorated, home in religious belief.
For if you hear unseen beings talking to you, or cling to ideas that have absolutely no basis in physical reality, or are compelled to follow a path in life that lacks any rational signposts, glory be, brother, and praise the Lord, for you are born again!
Or, mentally ill. It's frequently hard to tell the difference between religious and secular craziness. A few hours before the end of his unbalanced life, Cho sent a religious martyrdom video to NBC News.
Obviously he wasn't entitled to claim kinship with a man, mythical or not, who urged us to love others and turn the other cheek. But if Cho was crazy for believing that his "crucifixion" was analogous to Jesus' death on the cross, then several billion Christians also are over their heads in the mental deep end.