Call me Ismail…Ax

After discovering the word “Ismail Ax” on the arm of the Virginian killer, the bright minds of the blogosphere quickly identified the name as being part of the opening sentence of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. “This is an obvious reference to the book,” said one blogging anti-Herman harridan. “They hate our way of life and our civilisation. They want to wind back the clock on American literature to the 19th century. We are engaged in an existential struggle with readers of Moby Dick.”

Actually, I jest. Some of the bright minds of the blogosphere did react to the name scrawled on the man’s arm, in the only way they knew how: by trying to cobble together some sort of link between the tragic murders and the War on Terror. “Was the killer an Islamist?” Well, Ismail is indeed a Muslim and/or Arab name and, let’s face the awful truth, Korean is just one letter short from Koran. And that’s pretty damning evidence in the bizarro world that some of these bloggers seem to inhabit.

On that note, the Herald Sun are reporting today:

There was speculation it could be a reference to a Muslim girl in Indonesia he was said to have befriended online or to a cultist focus on Islam and assassins.

Where did this speculation come from? Well, Reason Magazine’s excellent Hit and Run blog has the scoop on that particular meme:

“2005 Weblog Award Finalist” and C-list pundit Debbie Schlussel once again beat the Em-Ess-Em to the punch. This time, she has scooped Cho Seung-Hui’s connection to global jihad. Seems that with the help of other anti-jihadists, Debbie (as well as the equally loathsome Pamela Geller Oshry ) sleuthed her way to to the obscure Flickr account of a Muslim Indonesian woman who goes by the name “Eldarossell.” After baiting her readers with a completely gratuitous picture of one of Eldarossel’s female friends wrapped in an Islamic head dressing, Schlussel moves in for the kill. She next shows a picture of a South Korean friend of Eldarossell’s named Cho Seung Hoo (as opposed to “Hui”). Eldearossel befriended Hoo while he was studying computer science in Indonesia. While there, he took the name “Ishmael.” It’s not at all uncommon for Asian people to adopt local names while visiting foreign countries.

Read the entire post.

UPDATE: It’s Attack of the Libertarians, it seems, with’s Justin Raimondo also commenting on Schlussel in his own inimitable style:

The news that the Lone Nut had the words “Ismail Ax” written on his arm when he died provoked a paroxysm of hope in the hearts of our haters. And, naturally, Debbie Schlussel beat Ann Coulter and her imitators to the punch. Debbie is a bleach-blonde triple-D-cup bimbo-pundit who sounds like a New York Post editorial and looks like someone with second billing at a tenderloin strip joint. She’s been peddling her … shtick for years as the neocons’ Madame Defarge, and if there’s anything she hates more than peaceniks it’s Muslims, to whom she attributes a great deal of the world’s ills. Debbie latched onto this “Ismail” meme like a barracuda on a diver’s leg. Having googled the killer’s name, Cho Seung-hui, she came upon some Flickr photos — posted by an Indonesian woman, in an album titled “My Family” — of someone with a very similar name, who also went under the name “Ismail.” She posted all the photos on her blog, and asked: “Is This ‘Ismail’ Cho Seung-Hui?”

Short answer: No. To begin with, the killer and this “Ismail” don’t look anything like each other. You would have to really want to believe they’re the same person in order to defy the visual evidence that they are two different people. Secondly, the woman who posted the photos, and who knows the person involved, has denied it is the same person, asked people to stop harrassing both her and the other “Ismail,” and is clearly (and justifiably) horrified by the unwanted attention.