Today we recall that infamous day in 1941 that pulled us into WWII. Roosevelt’s words assuring us that “the only thing that we have to fear is fear itself” are just as valuable and true today with our culture of violence and terrorists threats.
Like the person who can’t see the forest for the trees, there are those who would focus too much on one threat to the detriment of all others. We need broad vision and clarity to address the existential threat of radicalism and religious extremism in all its various forms.
As it will invariably happen for years and decades to come, the commentary that follows such violence as Paris and San Bernardino will elevate the fear that urges many to over react and ignore civil liberties. Anger at high pitch will cherry pick those actions that justify the need to intern all Muslims and arm every individual with a small arsenal of weapons.
The local editorial here in my hometown regurgitates the same alarming message heard around the country that claims “America must face the hard truth”. We are reminded that the insanity that is ISIS can now strike anywhere and hit targets that are not even associated with those that they feel pose a direct threat to their cause.
And though no one, regardless of political stripe, denies this, these messages suggest that those who would caution about overreactions to this threat are in fact guilty of not facing the hard truth. It’s a message that continues to divide us as a people because its subtle inference is that unless we react in a certain manner that tends to vilify Islam in general and limit it’s spread across America, then we are in effect aiding & abetting the enemy.
Better to be safe than sorry and see one innocent Muslim American die or be herded into jail without due process of the law than see other innocent Americans die is the undertone of many, especially those who rally around the messages of Donald Trump who says he will have no problem recreating the intern camps that were shamefully initiated with Japanese Americans in WWII. Meanwhile the other GOP candidates tell campaign crowds that they will prevent entry into this country of middle eastern refugees trying themselves to escape the ISIS violence.
Such fear will ultimately achieve the very thing that a small band of Muslim extremists cannot achieve on their own – the demise of American civil society that has evolved over the years. Terrorist groups around the globe will never have the formidable military man-power and weaponry to defeat sovereign democracies in any conventional sense. They know this and their actions have always reflected this.
But their intent gets lost with the outrage we allow ourselves to dwell in and seek “justice” by blowing them and every living thing around them off of the face of the earth. As if they were actually isolated in such a fashion from mainstream societies that harbor us no ill will.
Then there is the other side of this coin that has 2nd amendment zealots gleefully pointing out that the strict gun laws in California failed to prevent the San Bernardino violence. To them this is evidence that sane gun control measures have no value and allows them to up their maddening claim that more guns, not less, is what will stop all of the violence.
“Strong gun laws do prevent gun deaths. Not every law can prevent every gun death,” said Allison Anderman, a staff attorney with the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence in San Francisco. “They work most of the time.” SOURCE
Never mind that the laws may well have prevented other nefarious acts with some that have gone unnoticed or unrecorded. And then there is the bigger concern that allows such tragedies to occur in the first place. The fact that the U.S. has more gun violence than all other developed countries combined speaks to a culture that allows damn near anyone who doesn’t walk into a gun shop wearing a tin foil cap and in some wild-eyed fashion declares their intent to wipe out those who exists in their paranoid state of mind, to purchase as many guns and as much ammo that fits their budget.
“It is a moral outrage and a national disgrace that civilians can legally purchase weapons designed specifically to kill people with brutal speed and efficiency. These are weapons of war, barely modified and deliberately marketed as tools of macho vigilantism and even insurrection.” SOURCE
The twisted notion that the intent by the 2nd amendment covers such insanity is bought into easily by people who may themselves never commit mass murders but who are likely to shrug their shoulders when it does occur to victims they have hidden or even overt hostilities toward. It is further enhanced by the collusion of conservative state and national representatives who pander to the National Rifle Association and those they defend – gun manufacturers.
What gets lost in such extreme reactions is that no one really wants to down play the threat of terrorists, Muslim or American, who have either been radicalized or are a part of a larger more organized movement. Many of us have been accused of such by the 2nd amendment zealots and Islamophobes on blog message boards.
Likewise, no one wants to take away guns or prevent their sale to people who live in unsafe neighborhoods and feel the need to defend themselves or that prevents hunters from engaging in their sport. These straw man arguments come from the peanut gallery of those who exhibit irrational Islamophobia and 2nd amendment zealotry to exploit the human weakness that comes from tragedies like Paris and Newtown; San Bernardino and Charleston, S.C.
All Americans, every single one of us, wants those in authority to take the necessary action to curb and end this violence. But it must be done without losing our civil liberties and devolving into actions not unlike the very people we are being threatened by.
We must not allow the violence to breed a narrative that pits us against each other. By creating an atmosphere that leads to the implosion of American culture, a small group of delusional extremists can achieve more than anything a militarily powerful nation can accomplish.