Ismail Ax: The Shooter Was Another 'Son of Sacrifice'
This morning I read that the Virginia Tech shooter died with the name Ismail Ax written in red ink on his arm. The mainstream press doesn't seem to have a clue as to what this might mean. To quote Indiana Jones, "Didn't any of you guys go to Sunday School?" The story starts with a man named Abraham. He is the father of the Jews, the Muslims and the Christians. He was born in Iraq, the son of a wealthy idol manufacturer. He came to believe that there was only one true God and, according to tradition, took up his ax and destroyed his father's idols. Eventually he left Iraq and moved to what is now known as Israel. He had a son with his concubine whom she named Ishmael.
The Muslim world prefers the Arabic spelling of the name: Ismail. Eventually Abraham had a son by his rightful wife and named the son Isaac. Ishmael and his mother were disinherited and sent out into what is now Saudi Arabia. Isaac became the heir. Eventually, God decided to test Abraham by telling him to kill his son, Isaac. Abraham took up the knife, but God stopped him at the last moment. Isaac lived and eventually became a man of great wealth. Ishmael became a desert warrior chieftain.
The Jews are the descendants of Isaac, the Arabs are the descendants of Ishmael. In the 7th Century, Muhammad, the founder of Islam, re-wrote the story, claiming that Ismail was the true faithful descendant of Abraham and that it was he, not Isaac, who God told Abraham to sacrifice. Ismail was the one saved. For Muslims, Ismail (not Isaac) was the true 'Son of Sacrifice.'
In the original version of the story, Abraham used a knife, in some of the later Muslim versions, he used an Ax. Flash forward 1,400 years: a sullen, angry young man who rages against rich people and apparently against Christians, writes a play in which a mother and son try to kill his step-father, but in the end the boy (age about 13, the age many think Ismail was when he was exiled) is murdered by the step-father with 'a deadly blow'. Father issues? Yeah, I think so. Cho Sueng-hui cum Ismail Ax hated the American society to which he had been brought 15 years earlier. His play McBeef (a poor pun from an English Lit major on Macbeth) is one endless screed against the corruption of American culture.
A cheesy re-telling of Shakespeare's Hamlet, it involves a young man abused by his step-father, a former NFL football player. The son, throws epithets at his father calling him a 'Catholic priest'. And makes derisive comments about McDonalds. It seems that none of the foundational structures of Western Civilization, Christianity, capitalism, family, are spared his rage. In other words, he really meant what he said in his last words: "you (that is us, America) made me do this."