During a Fox News report about the mass shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon a guest correspondent somehow managed to showcase his own Islamophobia in a completely non Muslim-related conversation.
Host Sean Hannity and Los Angeles-based correspondent Trace Gallagher were discussing what the public knew so far about the massacre and the shooter, Chris Harper Mercer.
The two addressed how it was strange of Mercer to ask his victims if they were Christian or not and then shoot people in the head who said they were Christian and in other areas of the body if they said they weren’t.
As the two analyzed whether or not Mercer had some religious ties that prompted him to ask people that question, Gallagher said there was nothing on Mercer’s social media profiles or elsewhere that would connect him to any religious faith but amid his evaluation of Mercer he said,
“The question is what is the component? I mean, his name doesn’t bring anything to mind, where he be — he doesn’t sound like he’s Muslim.”
That may be so, Gallagher, but no one said anything about the guy being Muslim in the first place.
In context, you could argue that Gallagher was just using the Islamic faith as a general example to emphasize that there’s nothing about Mercer that blatantly connects him to a specific religion…But the question would still remain, why was being Muslim the first that came to Gallagher's mind?
Could it be because, in many Americans' minds, Muslims are inadvertently always connected to random acts of violence and terrorism?
It would seem that Gallagher’s subconscious made the dangerous and misguided notion that all those who commit crimes driven by religion are Muslim.
Gallagher could have chosen any number of religions to use for a general example. He was correct that the name "Mercer" doesn’t sound Muslim, but it also doesn’t sound Buddhist or Hindu or Mormon either, does it?
Let’s just dig a little deeper than that and point out that a person’s name doesn’t determine their religion in the first place. There are Muslims of all different ethnic backgrounds whose names are not a dead giveaway to their spiritual faith.
Case in point, there are people who have names that may be traditionally associated with Islam but they may practice Christianity or perhaps have no religious affiliation at all. People also convert to different religions all the time, so one's name can never definitively link a person to a certain religion.