I saw the headlines on my mobile phone and thought little of it, because grotesque acts of violence are normal now, and actually always have been. A crazed anti-Semite shot 11 people to death in a Jewish temple in Pittsburgh over the weekend.
Here are three ideas that might help:
- Mandate more effective surveillance of potentially violent extremists by law enforcement
- Create a federal database of people not allowed to own firearms
- Increase armed security until you can make progress on 1 and 2.
If someone who survived the Holocaust can’t survive going to a religious service in Pittsburgh, something is seriously wrong with this country. No part of how to fix this should be off the table. And as per usual the country’s reaction to this latest horror show follow predictable partisan scripts.
I shouldn’t be surprised. I thought that the September 11 attacks were so bad that people wouldn’t get away with resorting to the same tired old tropes and I was wrong then. If the horrific deaths of thousands of people on live TV didn’t shake us from unbecoming hackery, why should the massacre of 11 people at a synagogue in Pittsburgh make us change our ways?
When an Islamic terrorist massacred 49 people in Orlando two years ago, leading Democrats lectured us on Islamophobia and xenophobia. When a Christian terrorist killed three people at an abortion clinic that same year, leading Republicans mumbled platitudes about treating the mentally ill. When a mentally ill teenager slaughtered 17 fellow students at a high school earlier this year, the President said the solution was to arm teachers. After this latest shooting in Pittsburgh, the President said more armed guards were the answer. We have an abject failure of leadership throughout our government.
Something has got to be done about too many of the wrong people getting their hands on guns. That is a focus that enjoys broad support. Guns are another divisive issue in this country, but ask the most unwavering N.R.A. member if the people involved in any of these terror attacks/mass shootings should have been able to get a firearm, and they will tell you ‘no.’ Fellow Second Amendment supporters: if we don’t come up with a viable solution, less sympathetic voices will control this issue. Years ago I came up with a proposal to create one federal system that would screen out people deemed too dangerous to own firearms but also overrule the patchwork of often unconstitutional state and local laws that have gun owners rightfully angry.
Part of that is also being able to find dangerous extremists before they become violent. Our First Amendment allows people to believe and advocate anything they want, but most violent extremists leave other clues to violent intent beyond online musings.
It’s very common to see an increased police presence in New York outside of Jewish houses of worship, especially around Jewish holidays. The idea of increased security at synagogues and temples is not out of line. Only calling for more armed guards or armed teachers or clergy is a crap answer to addressing our problem with violence. But increased security will have to do in the meantime. We have to deal with the world as it is now, not as it should be.
New York is a city that lives on the freedom of expression. It is the place where people come to from all over the world to be free and to be themselves. There are many thousands of Muslims in New York and no one has been killed here over a cartoon.
New Yorkers were aghast that people in a civilized country like France could be massacred because they published cartoons of a religious figure. Charlie Hebdo published cartoons of lots of religious figures, it was their depiction of the prophet Mohammed that got them killed. True to form, the newspaper has vowed it will publish again.
If I were a better artist, I’d draw up some nice Mohammed cartoons of my own. But cartoonists quickly reacted with great artistic aplomb and there are now many great works of art depicting the Islamic prophet in a host of inventive poses. More power to them.
That there is any reluctance to embrace the ‘Je Suis Charlie’ movement is a troubling sign that the cowardice in the face of Islamic extremism is already firmly rooted among many in the West. Some media outlets are even declining to publish the controversial Mohammed cartoons that Charlie Hebdo published. Those editors are cowards.
Each terror attack generates more pathetic coddling of Muslims than backlash attacks against them. The bodies at the Charlie Hebdo offices weren’t cold before the Internet was littered with the usual moral scolds warning us against “intolerance.”
Intolerance is actually OK when faced with the intolerable, and murdering people for publishing cartoons is as intolerable as it gets. It is right to be intolerant of any ideology that feels justified treading on the freedoms of others. It would be wrong to paint all Muslims with such a broad brush, but not acknowledging Islam’s greater propensity for violence is being willfully ignorant. The immediate calls for “tolerance” in the face of terror cross the line from reason to submission.
There’s also a big difference between criticizing and satirizing the tenets of Islam and attacking Muslims. People who burn down mosques are attacking Muslims. Publishing a cartoon that makes fun of the prophet Mohammed is par for the course. Like it or not, Mohammed’s success in founding one of the world’s largest religions has made him a public figure and public figures are subject to ridicule regularly.
Most of my family and friends are Christians and they can take seeing Jesus ridiculed. Christians believe Jesus forgave the people who crucified Him, so posting a cartoon of Jesus giving Mohammed a reach-around has got to be forgivable.
We should have as many Charlie Hebdos as the newsstands and Internet can hold. We should saturate the market with as much blasphemous imagery as possible and let religious fanatics see their icons desecrated every day.
The idea of killing a cartoonist or a writer over satirical work is so appallingly immoral that it demands we double down on the blasphemous satire. There should be no publication in the world not running offensive Mohammed cartoons.
Islamic fundamentalists have now made it a moral imperative to insult their prophet in the most objectionable manor possible. No one should hesitate to publish a single one.