Call it the deplorables’ defense.
Three men in Southwest Kansas who plotted to kill Muslims believe they cannot get a fair trial unless there are hardcore right-wingers on the jury.
Luckily, Curtis Wayne Allen, Patrick Eugene Stein and Gavin Wayne Wright were thwarted in their attempt to blow up an apartment complex and a mosque in Garden City, Kan., hoping to kill significant numbers of Somali immigrants.
They said their goal was a “bloodbath” to “wake people up” to the idea that the nation is being overrun by foreigners. The men referred to the Somali refugees as “cockroaches.” They had stockpiled weapons and researched chemical explosives, with a plan to put them at the corners of the apartment building where Somali refugees live and worship.
The men discussed going door-to-door murdering and raping people, as well as arson and kidnapping. They also thought it a fine idea to target churches that had aided the refugees and people who had rented to them. One of the men swore that no Muslim child would be left alive.
They planned the attack for Nov. 9, 2016, the day after the election that put Donald Trump in the White House. They didn’t want to cause any disruption in his quest for the presidency.
And now their defense team argues that the men’s Sixth Amendment rights and the Jury Act will be violated if the jury pool isn’t expanded beyond Wichita, where they are being tried, to where these three lived and hatched their plan, in rural western Kansas.
The rationale is laid out in the motion, citing Democrat and Republican voting patterns, noting that Southwest Kansas has higher percentages of Republican voters.
“This case is uniquely political because much of the anticipated evidence will center around, and was in reaction to, the 2016 presidential election,” the defense lawyers wrote in the motion.
The men were also members of militia groups, the Crusaders and the Kansas Security Force, adherents of anti-government conspiracy theories and sovereign citizen lore.
That explains why the defense motion also refers to “a political difference between the two parties also extends to their respective ideologies regarding the appropriate size and power of the federal government and the individual rights of its citizens.”
“Additionally, this case will require the jury to evaluate and weigh evidence regarding whether the alleged conduct constitutes the crimes charged or whether it was constitutionality protected speech, assembly and petition, and/or the right to bear arms,” the motion added.
What nonsense. These violent extremists and their lawyers are essentially substantiating Hillary Clinton’s “basket of deplorables” conceit during the 2016 presidential campaign. When Clinton used the term to describe certain Trump supporters, there was outrage that this liberal elitist would dare disparage salt-of-the-earth conservatives. Now we’re supposed to believe that one man’s bloodletting is another man’s exercise of his constitutional rights.
Don’t see the distinction? Well, you must be one of those elitists who think Trump voters are deplorable. The argument is absurd, but the calculation is transparent. The defense team clearly hopes to find jurors so irredeemably bigoted against Muslims that they will hang the jury
For argument’s sake, let’s assume they win their point with the court and the jury is pulled from both the area of Wichita and from Dodge City.
Yes, many people in western Kansas voted for Trump, disregarding his flagrantly conspiratorial, sexist and outright daft thinking. But they’ve also lived among many Vietnamese, Mexicans and now Somalis in that portion of the state for decades. It’s a remarkably dynamic area, partly due to the need for workers in the meatpacking industry.
This trial will surely be sensational. But it also proves the more modest point that words do matter — not in the sense that Trump can be held accountable for what these despicable men plotted but rather in the sense that sick people look for inspiration. The vile invective that Trump unleashed during his campaign spoke to many people who merely enjoyed the false bravado — sane people who would never harm another in violence.
But it also spoke to people like these three — men so disassociated from any sense of humanity that mass murder was appealing, even called for.
There’s a lesson here that is bigger than the courtroom where it will be heard.
Mary Sanchez is an opinion-page columnist for The Kansas City Star.
Somali Man charged the deaths of 4 in fatal I-55 accident
STAUTON, IL – A Colorado truck driver has been charged following an investigation into a multi-vehicle accident that killed 4 people and injured 11 others. Mohamed Jama, 54, of Greeley, Colorado, turned himself in to the Madison County Jail Monday.
The accident happened on southbound I-55 in Madison County on November 21, 2017.
The fatal accident killed 2 sisters, Madisen and Hailey Bertels and a friend, Tori Carroll, and an out of state woman, Vivian Vu in another vehicle.
Authorities say the accident occurred when a tractor-trailer driven by Mohamed Jama failed to slow down and stop for cars in front of him in a construction zone.
By the time it was all over, 7 vehicles were damaged and the people inside them injured or killed.
The sisters attended high school in Staunton.
The deaths deeply touched Staunton where people knew the young women or knew people who were their friends. Many in town were still grieving the loss. Matthew Batson said, “I’ll hear stories about them all the time, even though it’s been five months? Yes, it’s a lasting effect.”
The Madison County State`s Attorney Tom Gibbon said if convicted of all the crimes Mohamed Jama could spend the rest of his life in prison. With summer coming on and more construction zone Gibbons says there`s a warning for all of us.
“Each of us out there in our cars we really need to pay attention, watch out, slow down you never want to see something like this to happen again it so terrible for all the victim I’m sure that no person would want to be the cause of something like this.”
Jama is charged with 4 counts of reckless homicide and 8 counts of reckless driving. He`s being held in the Madison County Jail without bond.
CANADA: Edmonton author aims to boost diversity in children’s book publishing
EDMONTON—Two years ago Rahma Mohamed’s then four-year-old daughter saw an Elsa costume, complete with blond braids, and pleaded with her mother to buy it so she would look “beautiful.”
That’s when Mohamed decided her kids needed more cultural inspiration than the blond princess from Frozen.
After a year of work, the first-time author published Muhima’s Quest, a children’s book that tells the story of a young African-America Muslim girl who wakes up on her 10th birthday and goes on a journey.
Now, Mohamed’s at work on her second book, which is due out at the end of the month. She’s on a journey of her own, she said, to boost diversity in children’s publishing.
“I wanted to create a character who had African descent and is a Muslim in a children’s book because I just found out that there were none that were available in the mainstream,” she said.
Her books show kids it’s OK to be different, she said. Take her first book: some Muslims don’t celebrate birthdays, she explains, and the little girl in the book struggles with her faith and questions why she doesn’t celebrate like her classmates do.
“The overall message is that we do things differently, but that part is what makes us beautiful,” Mohamed said.
She said she felt it necessary for her kids to see themselves represented in the books they read in order to “enhance their self-confidence, as well as bolster their sense of pride.”
Mohamed, who writes under the pen name Rahma Rodaah, self-published her first book and since last summer, has sold 200 copies locally.
“It does take a lot of resources and you have to self-finance, but I believe in the end it’s worth it,” she said.
She hopes to go bigger with her second book, which focuses on the universal concept of sibling rivalry, and features a young girl who plans on selling her little brother because she believes he is getting all the attention.
“My overall goal is to portray Muslim Africans who are basically a normal family.”
Mohamed says her previous book was well-received by parents at readings she had done at public libraries and schools.
“Most of them who are Muslims really loved that the kids could identify with the characters,” she said.
The books also acted as a conversation starter for non-Muslim families, she said.
She said, for her, the most exciting part of the journey is knowing that she is making a difference in shaping the minds of young Black Muslims.
“We are underrepresented, misunderstood and mostly mischaracterized. It is time we paint a different picture.”
When radicalization lured two Somali teenagers … from Norway
Acclaimed Norwegian journalist Åsne Seierstad spent years researching what happened. Now her book, “Two Sisters: Into the Syrian Jihad” is available in the United States.
Seierstad, who discusses her book Monday night at the American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis, said she didn’t go looking for the story.
“The story actually came to me,” she said. “It was the father of the girls who actually wanted the story to be written.”
His name is Sadiq, a Somali man who worked for years to bring his family to Norway. He hoped for a better life. He thought things were going well, then everything collapsed when Ayan and Leila disappeared.
When the girls left home, their parents were in shock, Seierstad said. “They hadn’t understood what was this about. Why? And then as months went by and they got to learn more about radicalization, they realized that all the signs had been there. That the girls were like a textbook case of radicalization. And he [Sadiq] wanted the book to be written to warn others, to tell this story to warn other parents.”
It is a perplexing story. Ayan and Leila were bright, and opinionated. They didn’t put up with being pushed around.
“And that is somehow part of why they left, in their logic,” said Seierstad, adding that the girls were convinced Syria and ISIS offered a chance of eternal life.
“They believed that life here and now is not real life. Real life happens after death. And this life is only important as a test. So the better your score, the better you behave in this life, the better position you will have in heaven for eternity. So isn’t that better?”
Seierstad is known for her in-depth reporting. Her book “One of Us,” about Anders Breivik, the gunman who killed 77 people in Norway’s worst terror attack, is an international best-seller.
When published in Norway Seierstad said, “Two Sisters” became the top-selling book for two years running. What pleases her most is the breadth of her readership. She gets email from young Somali girls, and also from government officials who want to prevent future radicalization.