Monday, June 13, 2016

Lessons from the June 12 Orlando Massacre

● So far this year, 50 Americans have been murdered by radical Islamists in the US. During the same period, about 7,000 Americans have been murdered by “common,” “regular” criminals, including 161 who died from mass shootings. See:Mass Shootings.

● Omar Mateen was born in the US, so the “Trumpian” proposal to keep Muslim immigrants out wouldn’t have helped. You may say, yes, but his parents came from Afghanistan, so if THEY had been kept out, the Orlando massacre would not have happened. By such reasoning, we need to figure out how many Americans are murdered every year by children of immigrants.

● This massacre will help Trump’s quest for the presidency.

● Radical Islam IS a problem.

● People who, like former UN ambassador John Bolton on Fox News today, say that the fight against terrorism is a WAR are wrong. Terrorism is a CRIME, not a war.

● The conflicts in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere involving ISIS, Al-Qaida and other groups ARE wars. Insofar as we participate in those conflicts with air raids, special ops and “advisers” on the ground, we ARE engaging in (low-level) warfare.

● We are fighting terrorism just about as we should. While there is always room for improvement, our low-level participation overseas and vigilant law enforcement practices at home are working, by and large. ISIS is in retreat. The greatest need for improvement is the need for more effective collaboration with and active participation by local allies such as Turks and Saudis, although even in that respect much has been accomplished, for example with the Kurds.

● But sending in the marines or the 102nd infantry division, World War Two style, as hysterical right-wingers seem to wish for, is preposterous.

● Fight the “ideology”? (again proposed by republicans). I don’t even know what this means. ISIS recruits hoodlums from the slums of Paris and Brussels and from American suburbs. These hoodlums haven’t even read the Koran. They are a problem, but no “ideological” campaign is likely to be of any help.

● Gun Control? Of course! Hillary Clinton is absolutely right: Weapons of mass destruction should not be disseminated in the streets of America, as they are by the NRA-backed gun shops all over the country. We need the same vigorous gun control legislation as exists in Japan, Australia, Canada, Europe and other sane places, including strict registration, background checks and ZERO allowance of automatic firearms in private hands. Rapid-fire  weapons must be limited to the military and to law enforcement.

● Right-wing Republicans like John Podhoretz and Donald Trump are immediately politicizing this event. Trump has called President Obama’s reaction “disgraceful” and Podhoretz has called him “disgusting” for using the term “terrorism” instead of “radical Islamic terrorism.” It is people like Podhoretz who are disgusting. They cynically exploit the tragic death of 50 innocent people for political advantage. They have the audacity of blaming the president for the Orlando bloodbath. They have no shame.

(Note: I taught the course on violence and terrorism for many years at the university)

© Tom Kando 2016
leave comment here