Mary Katharine Ham

"I was aiming to follow in the footsteps of one of my role-models, Muhammad Atta."

--Mohammad Taheri-azar

Do you remember Taheri-azar? The 25-year-old Iranian graduate of the University of North Carolina rented an SUV in March and drove it into The Pit, a campus gathering place for UNC students. He accelerated into the standard college crowd of preachers, smokers, gawkers, and cause-hawkers. He hit nine people and injured six. None died, much to Taheri-azar’s chagrin.

He told the press and the judge and anyone who would listen that he was seeking vengeance for the deaths of Muslims at the hands of bigoted Westerners in a post-9/11 world. He told everyone that he had intended to kill, had premeditated the killing. He even told the 911 dispatcher, just minutes after he had used a group of UNC co-eds as jack stands.

He was immediately arrested and charged with nine counts of attempted first-degree murder and nine counts of assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury with intent to kill.

A couple weeks later, just eight miles down the road in the city of Durham, three Duke lacrosse players were accused of brutally assaulting and raping an exotic dancer at a party on March 13.

There were not dozens of witnesses to the crime; there was not an overabundance of physical evidence; the boys did not confess and turn themselves in; they did not announce to 911 dispatchers that the rape was premeditated and that they felt like their "white privilege" entitled them to certain liberties with those of other races and socio-economic classes. 

It was weeks before any lacrosse player was charged with a crime, by which time, the results of DNA tests administered to the entire team had come back revealing no matches at all.

Now, let’s compare the treatment of the accused in each case by local officials, the press, and the local community. I think the results are reflective of a bit of a priority problem in the moral clarity department.


Local Officials

The president of each university made a statement on the occasion of his school’s respective controversy.

Chancellor James Moeser of UNC:

Mary Katharine Ham

Mary Katharine Ham is editor-at-large of, a contributor to Townhall Magazine.

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