The terrorist attack against American citizens in Orlando looks like a Rorschach test for the chattering classes. Did you think that because the attacker was a Muslim who openly professed loyalty to the Islamic State, and had apparently found the sight of two men kissing revolting and irrelegious, that the attack might have had something to do with Islam? You know, the religion whose adherents openly call for the deaths of homosexuals?
No, turns out you were wrong. It was all about guns. And you’re a terrible person for even suggesting otherwise….
If you want a “tragedy” and feel some sort of cathartic sadness, go read Aeschylus. But, frankly, the emotion I feel right now is not sadness, but anger. I didn’t know any of the dead or injured. I don’t know if we had much in common beyond the fact that we were all American citizens. But I don’t need anything more than that. One citizen attacked by an adherent of an noxious religious ideology is one too many. The fact that the President couldn’t manage to man-up enough to say the word “Islam” tells me all I need to know about him. Whatever his virtues (and I assume he has some,) strength and integrity aren’t among them.
No, instead, the President decided that this was the perfect occasion to gas on about gun control. He decried the fact that the Islamic terrorist had a “handgun and a powerful assault rifle“. “[W]e have to decide if this is the kind of country we want to be.”
I’m in agreement with the president on that last point: we do have to decide what kind of country we want to have, for ourselves in the future, for our children, and for generations to come. It’s time to ask some harsh questions, to remain unsatisfied until we have answers that make sense, and to kick to the curb any leader that prefers the mental comfort of threadbare slogans and outdated ideologies to tackling hard issues.
(1) Do we want a country whose citizens can be murdered, on their own soil, by an adherent to an murderous religious ideology, and the reaction of some of the citizens is to claim that the incident occured because Americans have too many civil rights?
(2) Do we want a country as large and diverse as ours to focus its limited resources on losing campaigns to ban things such as firearms, or alcohol and other recreational drugs?
(3) Do we want a country in which an unholy alliance of business interests and left-wing politicians has developed on immigration policy, in which both clearly believe that mass immigration will help them achieve their goals: respectively, an underclass of low-wage workers, and a guaranteed vote at the ballot box? (Thereby endangering some constitutional liberties, not least of which include the right to keep and bear arms, but based on Sunday’s events, I might add: the right to free association in whatever nightclub one might prefer.)
(4) Do we want a country where Chrisitan bakers can be fined for declining to bake a cake for a wedding between two men, but those who dare ask about some of the issues raised in the previous question, above, are denounced as bigots, racists, “Islamophobes” and people generally unfit for society?
(5) Do we want a country where anti-gun ideologues rush to embrace terrorist attacks like the one perpetrated in Orlando with barely-concealed glee because they want to blame the instrument of the attack, and not the person who did it, the religious adherents who supplied the moral and materiel support for the attack, or the religious ideology itself that provided spiritual succor for the murders?
These are the questions that I wonder about now. Because, in part, of who I am — an atheist, whose grandmother was an illegal from Mexico — some of these questions are personally uncomfortable, but patriotism and reason compel me to ask them and follow the answers wherever they lead.