The wrong response to a shocking crime

THE WRONG RESPONSE TO A SHOCKING CRIME…. Details of what happened and why are still coming into focus, but from what we now know, on Tuesday night, 21-year-old film student Michael Enright got into Ahmed Sharif’s taxi cab in New York City. Enright asked about Sharif’s background and faith, before mocking Ramadan. Soon after, Enright starting talking about checkpoints, withdrew a Leatherman knife, and stabbed the driver in the throat, face, arms, and hands.

Sharif, fortunately, appears to be doing fine after receiving more than two dozen stitches. Enright was quickly apprehended by police, and has been charged with second-degree attempted murder as a hate crime, first-degree assault as a hate crime and criminal possession of a weapon. He faces a possible 25-year sentence.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I) invited Sharif to City Hall today, and said, “This attack runs counter to everything that New Yorkers believe, no matter what God we may pray to.”

Gov. David Paterson’s (D) reaction was less encouraging. Among other things, the governor said:

“The potential for this kind of violence is one of the reasons why I have called publicly for a respectful and unifying conversation about the Park51 project. I continue to offer my assistance for an open dialogue that I believe will help to bring New Yorkers together.”

Of course, Paterson has said he wants to accommodate the demands of the Park51 critics, even considering state land for the project. In this context, his statement made it seem as if the controversy and the stabbing are connected, and moving the community center would make things better.

As Ben Smith put it, “The argument here: The mosque must be moved because its opponents are crazed, violent bigots who need to be appeased. Sounds like a good compromise.”