Image 01 Image 03

It’s just a photo

It’s just a photo

Dancing with Daddy.

When I woke up this morning, and turned to the internet on my phone (yes, the addiction is that bad), I saw the news about the triple murder in Chapel Hill.

The headlines emphasized that the victims were Muslim. Immediately, the internet set out on the race that takes place in such circumstances — various sides jockeying for political position.

Maybe it was best I was completely busy all morning. I asked Amy to handle the news coverage of the event.

Throughout the day, facts seemed to develop that pointed away from this being an act of anti-Muslim violence, but there will be more facts to come out, and they should.

If this were a crime motivated by personal animus not religion, it would be bad in every way. If it were a crime motivated by religious hate, it would be worse. Such crimes tear at the fabric of society, not just the fabric of a family.

Throughout the day, doing other things out of one eye, watching events unfold out of the other, I didn’t expect to write about the story myself today.

Then when I got home and went on Twitter, I saw the photo. And it all hit home.

It’s a photo of one of the victims, Yusor Abu-Salha, dancing with her father at her wedding a few weeks ago, posted just days ago.

It was accompanied by this message: Dancing With Daddy 

Yusor Abu-Salha Dancing With Daddy

There is something about the image of a joyous bride and her proud father that transcends peoples.

This spring my son gets married, and his bride-to-be will dance with her father. My daughters are of marrying age (boy, doesn’t that make me sound old-fashioned), and one day I’ll dance that dance with them, God willing.

To lose that moment so soon is heartbreaking, to the father and all who knew and loved her.

I don’t know what the victims’ politics were, and I don’t care.

I also don’t know why it has moved me so much. It’s just a photo.


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I was once told by friend that pictures were a way for us to share other peoples memories that had been put on paper.

The photo above should move you unless you are just heartless because you can see the happiness in this lovely young woman and to know that regardless of her religion it has been snuffed out by evil and that is sad. It also shows you all the others who have lost something, especially the parents.

I haven’t been blessed with children and as I get older I realize the chance of me having children keeps decreasing, so I can’t really understand the pain of loosing a child, but I can try to imagine and it must be one of the worst pains.

    platypus in reply to Gremlin1974. | February 11, 2015 at 11:09 pm

    It is one of the worst pains but it is one that lessens its sharpness as time goes on. When my first born died, it was a comfort to know that he died while he was unconscious in a diabetic coma. He didn’t suffer like so many of these others have.

    I suggest that you adopt a child.

No, it’s not just a photo. It is representing the happiest moment in a young bride’s life. It captures the joy of the moment.
The saddest part of all is the rush to politicize every aspect of this murder.

    gino schafer in reply to LEEJAN. | February 12, 2015 at 11:40 am

    If these people were Christians no one would care. But because they are muslim all the liberal press is trying to milk the situation for all its worth politically. Next Al Sharpton will be calling this guy a tea party supporter. Wait for it.

    It is terribly sad. I can’t imagine why anyone would do such a thing to three people over anything as trivial as this dispute seemed to be. I pray for their families that they may find some relief from the pain they are experiencing.

This will reveal that I am corny as Iowa in August, but…

I’ve always considered that Normal Rockwell was a great artist, even though most “real artists” consider him an “illustrator” at best.

See, I think that great art tells us something about humanity. Something that speaks to us about our larger family, and Rockwell did that for me, at least.

Some iconic photographs do that, too. Like this one. Or the photo of the battle-smudged American soldier cradling a wounded Iraqi child.

And those are never again “just a photo”. That is good and right. You are a good man, Prof.

    Sammy Finkelman in reply to Ragspierre. | February 11, 2015 at 8:18 pm

    Kansas in August, not Iowa! Maybe Iowa would have made slightly more sense, but Iowa has three syllables and the song needed two.

    Another Voice in reply to Ragspierre. | February 12, 2015 at 8:54 pm

    Prof. J posed the only question one asks themselves, having seen the picture and knowing the details, “For but the Grace of God, there go I”.

    An excellent post. So much so, this was reposted today at Real Clear Politics. Many more than L.I. followers will also be in reflection because of it.

The other picture I’ve seen of the victims…the three of them smiling at a graduation, made me feel sad for their families, but this one is a kick in the gut. The joy on her face… I can only imagine what her father felt then, and now.

Dammit, don’t be going soft on us. Review the Elizabeth Warren file – that’ll put you back in fighting form.

    gino schafer in reply to Henry Hawkins. | February 12, 2015 at 11:42 am

    Fighting against Lieawaetha would put anyone back in form. You see, Fauxcahontas has no chance of being president. The country has grown tired of being lied to.

      C. Lashown in reply to gino schafer. | February 12, 2015 at 6:37 pm

      re: “The country has grown tired of being lied to.”

      No it hasn’t, and not only that – this country loves being lied to. It’s like the best drug anyone could find. That’s the power behind Obama’s words – and any politicians words – the power of ‘The Lie’.

      Obama can spew 30 words and it can mean 50 things to 50 different people: he’s that good! He’s crafty with his words and with hiding his true intent, and the people love to have it so – we’ve learned to fear whatever he’s going to do next. But, we’re getting ready to pay the price for our addiction. Every addict pays a price.

What purpose does a father — not husband or man — have, other than to watch his children grow and continue the cycle of life?

It’s just a photo that depicts our common humanity.

By all accounts, the murder victims were all three nice kids. Went to high schools in Raleigh where they were good students, good students in college also. That wedding was on Dec. 27, just a few weeks ago. This is horrible. You are right, Professor. The community suffers more if they were targeted because of their religion. But it is hard for me to wrap my mind around what seems to have happened. Killed over a parking dispute? How can such a thing happen?

    platypus in reply to tarheelkate. | February 11, 2015 at 11:28 pm

    To answer your question, Satan and his demonic angels are alive and thriving on planet Earth. All it takes is a fit of rage to open the door to a demon’s whispered suggestion to do an evil thing. Many homicide detectives have heard killers explain that they didn’t know what happened but it was like they (the killers) were watching themselves commit the murders. Here in Tacoma WA, about 20 years ago a young girl in HS was brutally murdered (stabbed dozens of times) by a friend of the family.

    After the trial was all over, the murderer sent a letter to the judge describing how he and the girl engaged in black magic rituals. He described the demon that told him she needed to be killed as proof of something (I don’t remember what). The judge and the lawyers involved just decided that he was creatively trying to get his sentence lessened even though he opened the letter by denying that was his purpose. I read the letter and concluded he was telling the truth and that the system should be paying closer attention to it.

    How many times have we heard people who knew the killer say that he was such a nice person and that it’s impossible to believe he did such a thing? What if it really was out of character for the killers to kill? Well it could be demonic whispering, assuming that we’re willing to believe the statements of killers who have nothing to gain from telling the truth as they see it.

      tarheelkate in reply to platypus. | February 12, 2015 at 1:19 am

      The man, the shooter, was very angry all the time, according to neighbors in the apartment complex. They don’t say, “But he was such a nice person.” They’re saying, “He scared me too.”

In 1993, I shared a house with 3 other students in North Portland => three red neck boys and a smoking hot blonde girl on a street that is now called Rosa Parks blvd. I came home from Chemistry lab one night @ 10:00 to find a cop car in front. A gang banger had determined that only the girl was home and kicked in the door just as she had gotten out of the shower. He went about the house and took the phone off the hook/dialing some to prevent her from dialing out. He then went room to room looking for her. When he finally came to her room in the basement he opened the door to find a cocked pistol pointed at his head.

To this day I marvel at the street wise daddy that sent his daughter to college with a gun and the training to know how to use it. Lucky for the gang banger she said get out instead of pulling the trigger.

My own daughter is far away from school age yet so I have time to wrestle with teaching her to not abdicate the ownership of her personal safety to a feel good policy about a gun free campus and the consequences of doing so.

This incident smells of a person whose heart was made in hell. He drew, got several shots off and the victims could not have responded unless they were to have walked around ready for that moment. Sure we can’t walk around in condition yellow constantly, but somewhere this week there is a daddy who regrets that his daughter and her companions were not a little more paranoid about their personal safety and would do anything to go back and change that.

Evil people exist. What happens when you encounter them depends a lot on you.

    lichau in reply to Andy. | February 12, 2015 at 9:23 am

    Good story,one that I bet never made the news.
    “When seconds count, the police are only minutes away.”

Thanks for the column. I can only imagine.
We misuse words a lot. “Tragedy” is one. Recently, my father died at 88. My mother said:”I will miss him terribly for the rest of my days,but this is not a tragedy. ”

This goes beyond tragic.
That picture. What can you say.

“Exposed on the cliffs of the heart”

Exposed on the cliffs of the heart. Stone ground
under your hands. Even here, though,
something can bloom; on a silent cliff-edge
an unknowing plant blooms, singing, into the air.
–Rainer Maria Rilke (excerpt)

A happy adult woman married with apparent parental approval … these are things that build a more civilized culture, as the more westernized Muslims portray.

But radical Islam strongholds reveal the child brides and mistreatment of women and girls. That’s the fundamentalist Islam that still chops heads off as in Crusade days, but now has YouTube to spread their hate.

The Western World handles civilized Islam just fine, as evidenced by the good feelings emoted from the above picture. But Mohammed had a child bride and conquered with the sword, and his fundamentalists still believe forcing the West into submission is part of their pathway to heaven.

The Trojan Horse named “diversity” has rolled into America, but we must demand only Muslims that obey western laws, not Sharia, climb out and become Americans. I suppose Israel might be able to help us discern the differences, since they deal that world more intimately.

FedupwithStupid | February 12, 2015 at 11:10 am

The fact that the killer is an atheist makes it worse for me. Believers of most faiths believe there is something more, something to follow this life. Even some killers will acknowledge the existence of God, or at least have some vague notion that death isn’t the end for us. As an atheist, he believes that once you are dead that’s it. Worm food, nothing more. And he was willing to take away everything these young people could have done with their lives and simply end their being…over a parking spot? The utter lack of reverence for innocent life is…stunning to me. And evil. And incredibly sad.