More than once before in my blogs for the Center, I have spoken about the great importance of assimilating individuals who come to the United States to reside, whether as refugees, resident aliens, or in any other long-term status.
Last week, three young Muslim American students were killed in Chapel Hill, N.C. — Razan Abu-Salha Mohammad; her sister, Yusor Abu-Salha; and her husband, Deah Barakat. They appear to me to have represented a model of the kind of assimilation I contemplate when I think of a vibrant and prosperous society. They were, as the saying goes, "comfortable in their skins", seeing no conflict whatever in being Muslim and in being American.
Although there has been an outpouring of support and sympathy, as a father, I cannot even imagine the pain the parents of these bright young adults must be going through.
The man who stands accused of murder is now being investigated to determine whether his motives were sadly pedestrian (parking lot rage, as his wife has said), or much darker (a hate crime, as the father of the dead believes). It is in a cardinal sense an important question, but in another sense immaterial if it drives a wedge that can only further the interests of madmen and extremists who populate portions of our world.
As it struggles to counter radical Islamist ideology, the United States cannot afford to countenance an "us vs. them" divide abroad or, especially, here at home. This is precisely the narrative on which extremists thrive.
Three lives full of promise that will now remain unfulfilled. That is a tragedy for all of us.