Kathleen Parker

Nothing foggy about that. For his trouble, Taheri-azar has been charged with nine counts of attempted first-degree murder and assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill, inflicting serious injury. Bail has been set at $5.5 million.

What's less clear is whether Taheri-azar is a madman, a jihadist, a terrorist, all of the above, or just a loser who happens to be a Muslim. UNC officials have studiously avoided labeling the event a "terrorist attack," while some students have protested (to the acclaim of many in the blogosphere) that the university is caving to political correctness by failing to call a terrorist a terrorist.

I'm happy to use the "T" word where applicable, but the university may be right this time. Instead of a terrorist, Taheri-azar may be a simple nutcase who grabbed the jihad handle as convenient, self-important and certain to attract attention.

Narcissists come in all flavors. But Taheri-azar may prove useful as a metaphor in our ongoing search for clarity. To wit, the UNC Muslim Students Association has condemned Taseri-azar's crime, insisting that he is "one disturbed individual," and that his acts do not reflect the beliefs of the Muslim community.

Hear, hear. The rational and humane way to deal with this kind of phenomenon is not to anoint every nut with the romantic label of "terrorist," which connotes a philosophical framework for dastardly deeds, but to identify as wackos those who hijack Islam for their own purposes.

It is up to Muslims to be full-throated in their condemnation and marginalization of those who declare jihad against Westerners. All of them.

The list of nuts is long, beginning with Osama bin Laden and including al-Qaida's Ayman al-Zawahiri, Iran's Ali Khamenei, all suicide bombers, and so on. Here's a deal Abraham, Jesus and Muhammad could love: If Muslims rid their mosques of the jihadists, we'll take care of the spelling.

Kathleen Parker

Kathleen Parker is a syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group.
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