Dads Against the Divorce Industry
DA*DI is devoted to reinstating the societal valuation of Marriage and the traditional, nuclear American Family, with particular emphasis on the essential role of FATHERS.
DA*DI offers contemporary reports and commentary on culture; its aberrations and its heroes.
But I have reached
my destination and,
kneeling at water's
edge, look and see
myself framed by
everything that goes
on - endlessly
beginning all around
By Robert Cording
The Parable Of The Sniper Who Would Be Called GodGerald L. Rowles, Ph.D.
November 4, 2002
A review of more than seven hundred news accounts of the so-called Beltway Sniper, John Williams A.K.A. John Muhammad provides little insight into what makes him tick.
So why is that you might ask.
There are some common themes that run throughout the many accounts, with minor variations. One class of reports wants to blame the military for Muhammad's existence. Another class of reports wants to blame his Islamic conversion. All of these reports share the faulty logic of post hoc, ergo propter hoc (after this, therefore because of this). And then there is the recurrent and relatively stable claim that Muhammad was a doting father.
As a culture, we have much to learn from the parable of John Williams Muhammad, if we can ever get past the various p-c agendas.
Let's first consider one of the peripheral arguments which involves the disenfranchised father or its alternate, the overbearing father / spouse. There seems to be little doubt that John Williams Muhammad was deeply attached to his children, and that his posture was authoritarian. Latching onto the devoted father aspect, several divorced dad advocates have posited that because of the loss of his kids as a result of his two divorces, Muhammad became unhinged and went ballistic.
There are two problems with that post hoc interpretation. First, it does not serve as a positive testament on behalf of the millions of divorced dads who have been abused by the system. Quite to the contrary, it indicts them in the same fashion as feminist propaganda, which purports that all men are potentially lethal. Second, the available research demonstrates that relatively few dads go ballistic, and when they do the vast majority commit suicide. That is not to say that 11,000 suicides per year, as a result of divorce and disenfranchisement, should be regarded as something less than a tragedy.
The real testament to the character of the millions of disenfranchised dads is that they have endured so much without going ballistic.
That John Williams Muhammad acted as he did, both in his excessive need for control, and his subsequent controlled mayhem, points to the early development of a malignant character flaw, not a single pivotal event per se.
Now let's consider "the Army made him into a killer" theme. Every media report that includes a historical perspective on the Muhammad saga begins at age 17 and his subsequent 17-year army career. In a typical refrain, Brian Williams of CNBC asked this of his guest, "Let me ask you how much you factor in Gulf War experience in this kind of thing?" His guest, a refreshingly candid professor of criminal justice, Brian Levin answered, "Look, the vast majority of people who went to war, like my father, were very peaceful people." A Reuters news service reporter even asked Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld if the military "felt responsible for creating the alleged killer."
Throughout his army career, John Williams Muhammad was not peaceful, by any stretch of the imagination. Multiple disciplinary actions including at least two courts-martial checkered that career. In one account he assaulted a fellow non-commissioned officer, and in another he dropped an incendiary grenade into a barracks tent housing his platoon. Reports indicate that this was a "grudge thing" against another soldier. Some grudge!
The list of Muhammad's army misdemeanors also includes theft and being AWOL. According to his former commander, Captain Rick Martin, "He was a screwball then and a screwball now ... He was physically fit, but I don't think he was respected in the unit," Martin said. "He had a chip on his shoulder. People didn't want to have anything to do with the guy. (Sun Times)"
Rather than supposing that the army was the fatal flaw in Muhammad's development, one might more likely conclude that it was the army career that temporarily suppressed his demons. The history of two courts-martial, the fragging event, and his ultimate honorable discharges from the Louisiana Guard, the Oregon Guard and the U.S. Army also alarmingly suggests that today's feminized, multiculturally sensitized armed forces have turned a blind eye to sociopathic behavior.
Multicultural pollution was also evident in the initial Sniper reports, failing the smell test. In one particularly olfactory headline, the Washington Post exclaimed:
"County's Growing Diversity Reflected in Those Gunned Down."
Once it was known that John Williams Muhammad, a black man, was the alleged perpetrator, most of the popular media reeled in a state of shocked disbelief.
Ultimately the news of "John Williams'" other 17-year career oozed out, and it was timidly suggested that he was a practicing Muslim since 1985. Then there was a new post-hoc hypothesis. It was "the Nation of Islam made him do it."
Liz Michael, a prospective 2004 Senate candidate, wrote in the Sierra Times:
"The thing which makes NOI Muslims particularly dangerous is their discipline. They are probably the most disciplined black people in America, and among the most disciplined Muslims in the world. There is a security arm of NOI called the Fruit of Islam, which is one of the best trained militias in the country. Most of these people have been preparing for the day they GET to do what John Muhammad apparently HAS done."In service of this speculation, Liz Michael dismissed perhaps the most salient aspect of Muhammad's character when she said: "There is not a doubt in my mind that the intent of John Muhammad went far beyond personal aggrandizement or random violence."
"My sincere belief is, that given his training, what Muhammad wanted to do was leave a blueprint for every Black Muslim, maybe Blacks in general, to follow. He wanted to show you how easy it is to target America, and Americans, for terror."
It's a bit of a stretch to believe that John Williams Muhammad had such an elaborate political agenda. In suggesting such a fable, Michael has to leap over the elephant in the room. Late in his saga, the Sniper played an arrogant cat and mouse game with civil authorities, taunting them with catch-me-if-you-can tip-offs. As was reported on MSNBC "Ultimately, authorities believe, the snipers were done in by their egos, their insistence on gaining attention and notoriety." "In retrospect, it is clear that the snipers were showing off." And then there was that Tarot Card on which was written, "Call me God," and a subsequent letter that reiterated the same phrase.
In that singular clue, we may actually find the key to what makes John Williams Muhammad tick. Before the cold-blooded murders, before the army, and before conversion to Islam, there was John Williams the infant, the child and the adolescent. Consider the virtually unexplored 17-year period in which his character was most likely shaped.
At least one or two reports shed some light on this dark corner that was John Williams' first 17 years. As told by MSNBC and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, John Williams was born on New Year's Eve, 1960, a fatherless child. A cousin said, "he never knew his father." Williams also lost his mother to breast cancer when he was very young. After his mother's death, he was raised by a grandfather and an aunt.
"People who mistreat children seem to forget that children grow up -- and that the children may not forget."
- Thomas Sowell
"John Williams had been a talkative little showoff when he was growing up. His grandfather, who raised him after his mother died and his father disappeared, nicknamed him "Governor." He was still strutting when he went to visit his family in Baton Rouge, La., about nine months ago, with a man (17-y.o. John Malvo) he said he was helping travel back to Jamaica in tow."Clearly, John Williams started life with two strikes against him. Some will argue that being raised by a grandfather and an aunt is the same as having a biological mom and dad around. According to the media reports, some have: "Relatives describe the man they first knew as John A. Williams, born 41 years ago in Baton Rouge, La., as having a normal childhood."
Well, maybe the relatives, like the grandfather and aunt are and were just good-hearted and well-intentioned folks. And maybe their indulgence of an orphaned child set an unintended course of inadvertent mistreatment, false expectations, and tragic outcomes.
Consider this hypothesis, based on the available history and a bit of clinical intuition.
John Williams was indulged by a grandfather and an aunt who found his showing off and strutting entertaining. They were reluctant to place limits on these displays, or to discipline tantrums, given all that he had lost. The boy, however, was insecure and unsure of himself given his mother's death and an absent father. He required constant attention and admiration to salve his fears and uncertainty. These indulged requirements were perhaps the critical elements that foreshadowed the development of a narcissistic personality disorder.
" ... his younger cousin Edward Holiday idolized him. 'He was very caring,' Holiday recalled. 'He always took time to help the younger kids. There were times he would take a whole day out and take me to the park. . . . He was like my protector.' "The narcissist requires constant attention and admiration, but is interpersonally exploitative. They take advantage of others to achieve their own ends. The relationship with the younger children, and being seen as the idyllic protector is entirely compatible with the needs of this disorder. Such is the likely relationship between John Muhammad and his accomplice, John Malvo.
After high school and the heady experience of being a track and football star, John Williams the enlistee chafed at superiors and conformity with the rules, even to the extent of physically assaulting another officer. A typical narcissist has a sense of entitlement, and unreasonable expectations of special treatment or automatic compliance with their expectations. For example, they might assume that they do not have to wait in line like others must do.
And when he threw the grenade into the tent of the offending soldier, he apparently had no sense of empathy for the harm that he might do to others, or awareness of his extreme reaction to an interpersonal offense. When offended or slighted the narcissist typically reacts with feelings of rage, shame, or humiliation.
Ironically, John Williams Muhammad oft repeated phrase was, "You teach your kids at home, and they won't embarrass you when you take them out."
One of the critical roles of a father in a growing child's life, particularly that of boys, is the development of an awareness of the feelings and rights of others. One of the most robust research finding on fathers is that early childhood father involvement is the most important factor in the development of the character traits empathy and compassion - even more than the three strongest maternal predictors.
Having had no father or mother, John Williams Muhammad probably knew little of marital relations, nor of the balanced role of discipline. For him, the first and maybe the only role models for administering discipline were the military and Islam.
Experiencing failure in both his marriages and his business endeavors was more than just stressful; this was likely a profound narcissistic injury for John Williams Muhammad. It was a mortal blow to a false sense of self-esteem; a nuclear event for one preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, and brilliance.
There was, however, one thing he could do very well. In fact, he had received service decorations for it. He was an expert sharpshooter. With this skill he could exact the revenge of an injured god.
According to various reports, Muhammad was more than just a Muslim. He was a member of a fringe group of NOI known as "The Nation of Gods and Earths" or the "Five Percenters." According to TVC News:
"The Five Percenters believe that the black man is God and women are to be called 'Earth.' They also believe that they are the five percent of the population who is truly righteous and understands spiritual truths. Five Percenters also believe that blacks are the original people of the earth, that they created civilization, and that whites have deceived the world-causing people to worship false gods."Not only did John Williams Muhammad ostensibly leave a calling card that commanded, "Call me God," but while on the island of Antigua he had bragged "variously that he was a CIA officer, worked for the FBI or was an international businessman."
The narcissist has a grandiose sense of self-importance. They exaggerate achievements and talents and expect to be recognized as superior or special. In this case he, Muhammad seems most narcissistic in his belief that he is unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people or institutions such as the Five Percenters.
For a few weeks, John Muhammad was a strutting, vengeful god, bringing millions to their knees and commanding the rapt attention of millions more.
The life of John Williams Muhammad is a parable of modern times.
Eighty-five percent of the black men in prison are fatherless. And while there, they are the prime targets for recruitment to Islam, particularly Louis Farrakhan's Nation of Islam, "an angry, virulent strain of Islam." In fact, "25% of Blacks in prison are Muslims of some type." There are similar numbers of fatherless white men in prison, and many are converts to Islam, the Arian Brotherhood, and other radical means of father-substitution.
There is a potential army of Snipers out there. It's not the Nation of Islam, nor the military, nor the stress of divorce that will have shaped them. No, those influences will only come into play after the initial damage has been inflicted - through good intentions, benign neglect, overt abuse, and ignorance.
But fatherlessness is a known first cause that can be remedied. And we are well advised to pay close heed to the parable of the Sniper who would be called god.
Ultimately, if justice is sure and fast, and John Williams A.K.A. John Muhhamad is executed, as he should be, he will have died for his sins. But who will answer for ours?
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