The slaughter of 49 people at a gay club in Orlando earlier this month by a man who pledged his allegiance to the Islamic State has set off an all-too familiar routine of outrage and stalemate.
The battle lines are drawn quickly and both sides of the political spectrum only wanted to focus on the problem that appeals most to its relative base of support. But that guarantees little or no progress.
The facts are this: An Islamic fundamentalist who should not have been in this country was able to get his hands on weapons he should not have been allowed to buy. Addressing only the immigration angle won’t prevent another mass shooting and calling for some kind of assault weapons ban won’t solve this issue either. If you don’t address both problems you’ll have more of these kinds of attacks.
The gun-control advocates want to ignore the terrorist aspect of this massacre. The shooter was a U.S citizen after all, Democrats like President Obama were quick to point out. He was a troubled person who beat his wife and may have been gay himself, they argue. He didn’t know his ass from his elbow as far as the Islamic terror elements fighting in the Middle East, paying homage to both ISIS and a Floridian jihadist who died fighting ISIS.
But a confused, closeted gay terrorist is still a terrorist. And if you talk like an Islamic terrorist and act like an Islamic terrorist…
The rapid reaction to focus on guns and the burying of heads in the sand on the fact that this was a terrorist attack sends the message loud and clear: multiculturalism is a faith that people will stick to despite multiple bloodbaths. It demands that you look the other way and not institute any reforms that might tangle with the theory that we can somehow fill the American melting pot with religious crazies and walk away unscathed.
Even when the perpetrator is a brown-skinned closeted gay Muslim who pledged allegiance to ISIS, it’s somehow dumb rednecks and their love of guns that’s responsible for this. It’s easy to paint the N.R.A. as the villain here because it makes it easy to fall into the same old political roles we are comfortable with. Violence, outrage, stalemate, repeat.
The other side of the issue is more troubling to think about. That is the idea that our immigration policies over the last several decades have placed a fifth column of potential terror recruits that are replenish and multiplied with each generation. We’ve seen this with other populations of Muslims in the U.S. as well, most notably with the children of Somali refugees from the Minneapolis area that have returned to their homeland to join the extremist Al Shabaab group. The Orlando shooter was a U.S. citizen; that’s true, but his family came here under a refugee program. If we had a well-functioning immigration and refugee system, this guy would not have been here.
Curbing home-grown Islamic terrorism means making massive immigration reforms that are currently labelled xenophobic by open borders advocates. We cannot bring large numbers of Muslims into the country and not expect to have some of them become radicalized. This doesn’t mean banning all Muslims from entering the country—that would be asinine and alienate some of our most stalwart allies in the fight against Islamic fundamentalism. But it means having a stringent program to weed out potential troublemakers, institute swift deportation programs for those refugees and immigrants that prove themselves undesirable, and bring in much lower numbers of refugees and immigrants.
Limiting access to assault rifles or “assault style” weapons means that we develop a very well-defined and expensive system for keeping track of people who are not worthy to own firearms. And let’s not confuse the issue: the overwhelming majority of murders in this country are not mass shootings with assault rifles but handgun murders. You could eliminate all “assault style” rifle killings and still not put much of a dent in the murder rate. You have to keep track of the people who should not own guns. Piddling over what guns are legal or not will do little.
And my fellow gun owners need to fess up that the situation is out of hand when home-grown jihadists can be better armed than our police. Yes, our crime problem is more one of demography than armaments, but the patchwork gun laws we have in the U.S. does not serve us well. We will be better with a centralized system with a full due process that overrides restrictive local laws but allows the government to stop bad guys from having guns.
Both of these reforms mean that we admit that very powerful partisan articles of faith are wrong. We have to admit that large-scale availability of military-grade weapons is a bad idea and needs major reform. We also have to admit that large-scale immigration from dangerous parts of the world is an abject failure and needs to be sharply restricted if not curtailed with minimal exceptions for outstanding allies and truly deserving and well-vetted refugees.
Among the things I write that are the most fun are the Sherlock Brett stories. I began writing these quite some time ago when my stepbrothers Brett and Lyle were still very young. As they have grown the subject matter has become more mature. Today there are both college graduates and Brett is a married man living outside Atlanta. They continue to read my stories though I’m not sure they are always happy with how they are portrayed.
In the mid 1990s I wrote a screenplay, Sherlock Brett and the Case of the Missing Ding Dongs. The film began shooting on location in suburban Atlanta but creative differences between
This story I actually wrote for Christmas last year and it was originally titled “Sherlock Brett and the Secret Toast.” However, with the increasing reach and horror of the Islamic State, I believe the subject matter is very appropriate to publish commercially today.
At some point I will publish collections of Sherlock Brett stories in large volumes. These perhaps will survive all of time and begin the mythology for a future age. Sherlock Brett and his faithful, trusty sidekick Watson Lyle will be like the Arthurian legends years from now. One can only hope for such literary immortality, but putting this story on Amazon is an important first step.
The recent terrorist attacks in Paris will see New York on a higher security alert than usual. There will be more armed soldiers and more heavily armed police in some of our transit centers and crowded tourist areas.
New Yorkers this week will go to work as they normally do. The buses will be too slow and the trains too crowded. New Yorkers will continue to secretly and openly hate one another as is our birthright.
But what we won’t do is let savage lunatics keep us from doing what we need to do. We’d love to stay home and watch the news while eating cheese in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in France, but we can’t afford the time off from work.
And, to borrow an over-used phrase, if we deviate from our miserable daily routines, the terrorists have won. Let’s observe a moment of silence for the victims of these horrors, but don’t dare be silenced by fear. Don’t let the fear of terrorism affect how you live your life and don’t let the fear of being labeled or maligned stop you from speaking your mind.
New Yorkers will be divided on what the Paris attacks say about Islam and the Muslim world at large. My social media news feed is filled with people wanting to bomb all Muslims back to the stone age (some are already there!) and people trying to shame us for caring more about Paris than Beirut. All of this is nonsense. New Yorkers care more about Paris because Paris is more like New York and it resonates when people more like ourselves are harmed. That’s not xenophobia, that’s human nature.
The five boroughs are home to as many as 1 million Muslims and most of them are peaceful people we interact with on a daily basis without incident. It’s Muslims who are the biggest victims of Islamic fundamentalists and Muslims who are doing the most to take the fight to these extremists. And it’s also realistic Muslims who will admit that there’s a real problem with Islam today. It’s the religion that has most dialed up the crazy factor something terrible and the Islamic Uma has been home to an ideological war for decades with too many moderates sympathizing with the other side.
New Yorkers are a generally liberal lot and the usual suspects have expressed more angst about possible backlashes against Muslims than about how we go about preventing another terrorist attack. We’re a divided city just as we are a divided country, but after all the hand-wringing and shouting, we’ll still be a buzzing metropolis. We’ve seen terrorism at its worst and we’re still here.
New Yorkers will pause to honor the victims of terror and then keep going to work and coming home every night. We’ve been down this road before. There’s too much life to live here. We can’t afford the fear.
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.