Houston Islamic center fire and the anatomy of "hate crime" coverage

You may have missed it last week, but there was a fairly serious fire in Houston which caused significant damage to an Islamic center there. Fires are, unfortunately, not all that uncommon, but given the nature of the building there were immediate suspicions. Questions were compounded when investigators concluded that it was likely a case of arson. Since the incident took place only a brief time after the Chapel Hill shooting, the Left was quick like a bunny to jump all over the story.

Their hopes and fears were rapidly compounded when reports arose that a local firefighter had tweeted, “Let it burn” during the conflagration. You’ll have to dig fairly deep into the most recent news below to discover that the fire department later said they had never heard of the guy and he turned out to be a former volunteer who wasn’t even on duty anymore. (I guess that doesn’t make for very good headlines.) But that didn’t stop the liberal arm of the web where a good story can never be derailed by a few inconvenient facts.

This is hate crime gold, and we’ll construct the story we want, gosh darn it. (And we’ll blame American Sniper too.)

This arson attack happened in the wake of the execution of three Muslim-Americans in Chapel Hill, a likely hate crime which has shaken a Muslim-American community already reeling from an uptick in anti-Muslim hate crimes and speech since the premier of American Sniper.

Of course, this uptick must be placed within the backdrop of growing Islamophobia which continues to spread throughout American society since 9/11. Indeed, in the 13 years since 9/11, anti-Muslim hate crimes have been occurring at a steady and alarming rate. Today, Muslim-Americans are five times more likely to be targeted for such a crime than before the “war on terror” and the Islamophobia which now runs rampant in America.

Of course.

Everyone was on pins and needles to see if the Islamophobic suspect would be caught and identified. A careful perusal of his social media footprint would be needed, of course. Was he a Tea Party supporter? Did he regularly donate to the GOP? Had he published hateful diatribes on his Facebook page about Muslims and how it was all Obama’s fault?

Well, wait no longer. The cops have a man in custody and he has allegedly offered up at least something of a confession, though he claims the fire was “an accident.” Unfortunately for the political media, rather than being some staffer for the Republican leadership, he turns out to be an older, broken down, homeless and likely crazy dude with a long criminal record.

A 56-year-old man charged Monday with arson for a fire at an Islamic center last week said he did not intend to damage the building in southeast Houston.

“It was an accident,” Darryl Ferguson said Monday night as Houston Fire Department arson investigators led him away…

Ferguson has an extensive criminal record with dozens of arrests in Texas. The charges range from burglary and criminal trespassing to drug possession, assault and prostitution.

Ferguson probably doesn’t have much of a social media footprint as he’s unlikely to see much access to a computer. It’s hard to say how closely he’s been following all the anti-Muslim news lately unless some stories showed up in the newspapers he was sleeping under. It seems highly unlikely this was an accident, but I’m sure the guy will get his day in court. But with apologies to everyone who was ready to jump all over this, I’m afraid our suspect is a bit of a disappointment when it comes to ginning up the culture wars.

The good news is that the cops quickly caught him and got him off the streets. Well done, officers.