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In reporting on the killer of 32 innocent people on the campus of VTech, several news outlets have noted that the words “Ismail Ax” were written on the inside of one of Cho’s arms. That led to a massive wave of Internet searches for what it could possibly mean, as the Chicago Tribune reports:
At Technorati.com, a Web site that tracks more than 71 million blogs, only 30 blog posts were up about “Ismail Ax” before noon Central Standard Time. That was shortly after the first few news stories that cited the term were posted. By 3:45 CST, there were 202 blog posts regarding the term.
Additionally, the term was not in Technorati’s top search terms at noon, but by 2.30, it reached No 10.
As the public sought news from Virginia Tech, many turned to the Web sites of news organizations. The Chicago Tribune’s Web site, for instance, recorded more than 524,000 page views during the afternoon’s first hour, the busiest pace in the site’s history.
But it was the speculation of what Ismail Ax meant that sent the Internet into a particular frenzy on Tuesday.
One popular theory, mentioned at many sites, speculated that the phrase comes from a story in the Quran, the holy book of Islam, about Ibrahim and his son, Ismail. In the Muslim religion, Ibrahim is known as the father of the prophets and, upset that people in his hometown still worshiped idols and not Allah, he smashed all but one statue in a local temple with an ax. Ibrahim’s son is Ismail, who also became a prophet.
Another theory comes from literature. The name Ismail could be a variant of the narrator from Moby Dick, spelled Ishmael. Literary historians consider Ishmael an enigma who is well educated yet considers his time on a whaling ship worthy of time at Yale or Harvard, according to education site Sparknotes.com.
The NYPost examines “Ismail Ax” theories, too:
The reference may be to the Islamic account of the Biblical sacrifice of Abraham, where God commands the patriarch to sacrifice his own son. Abraham begins to comply, but God intervenes at the last moment to save the boy.
In the Jewish and Christian traditions, the son is Isaac, father of the Jewish people; in Islam, it is his brother, Ismail (Ishmael in Hebrew).
Abraham uses a knife in most versions of the story, but some accounts have him wielding an ax.
A more obscure reference may be to a passage in the Koran referring to Abraham’s destruction of pagan idols; in some accounts, he uses an ax to do so.
Is there an Islamofascism connection here, or is it just coincidence?
Anyone out there have any insight as to what “Ismail Ax” could mean?
Update: Paul at Wizbang thinks it was supposed to be Ismail YK, a Turkish singer. Perhaps … Also, Kim at Wizbang posts a flashback video of the daughter of a man and woman killed in the Luby’s Cafeteria massacre, which happened back in Texas in 1991. The woman’s name is Suzanne Hupp, and she testified in 1993 that she wasn’t mad at the perp, but at the lawmakers who pass such tight gun control laws that people aren’t even allowed to use one to defend themselves in public places. Watch it here.
Related: Gina Cobb offers her thoughts on how to try and prevent the next mass killing.
— John Hawkins believes that we’re never going to get a satisfactory answer to the nagging question of “why” this happened.
— Curt at Flopping Aces remembers the victims.
— Bob Leibowitz wonders if Virginia Tech is education’s 9/11, and also writes about how he feels schools need to stop teaching kids to be “good victims” and instead show them how to fight back. Some interesting food for thought there. Read related thoughts on fighting back via Dafydd at Big Lizards.