Sunday, December 6, 2015

Living in These Apocalyptic Days

With over 300 mass shootings this year, it is not surprising that one quickly supplants the other in terms of media attention, especially when Muslim terrorists are suspected.  A mass shooting is defined by shooting tracker as any attack where there are at least 4 wounded or killed.  The San Bernardino shooting managed to achieve the biggest body count of the year, but is it anymore heinous than the mass shooting in Colorado Springs by Robert Lewis Dear the week before, who similarly had a "religious agenda?"

Where it took GOP candidates 48 hours to formulate opinions on Dear, they were quick to respond to Farook and his wife, claiming it as an act of terror before the FBI had made that determination itself.  This of course led to Benghazi-like chants against Obama for waiting to hear the official police report before declaring it an act of terror.  Like it does anything to alleviate the pain and suffering taking place in San Bernardino.  However, this is an election hear and the Republican hopefuls needed something to drive their points home that the US doesn't need anymore Muslims to America in any way, shape or form.

Donald Trump sounded low key compared to Ted Cruz, who literally declared we are "at a time of war."  Obviously, Dear felt the same way when he went after abortion doctors, but Ted dismissed Dear as a "transgendered leftist activist" and that most violent felons are Democrats, leaving the media to sort out what he meant by that.  Both are attempts to stoke anxieties and hatred, at a time we clearly need calm and reassuring words, which is what the President tried to deliver.

The San Bernardino Shooting is a tricky situation in a number of aspects.  Farook is a natural-born American citizen.  His wife, a Pakistani national by way of Saudi Arabia, who he apparently met over the Internet.  Friends of Farook are suggesting that she is the one who radicalized him, while the Farook family lawyer is claiming that the deceased had no friends and that everyone made fun of his beard.  Everyone who knew him said Farook was a mild-mannered guy, even after he came back from Saudi Arabia with his new wife.  However, judging by the size of his ammunition and bomb-making pile, he and Tashfeen had been busy amassing an arsenal from the day she arrived, if he not before.

If you recall, the gunman who took out all his college classmates in Oregon, had a similar arsenal and a manifesto as well, but no Muslim background.  He considered himself an atheist and decided he had enough of persons spreading Christianity in the community college.  Of course, Dr. Ben jumped on this proudly displaying on facebook that "I am a Christian," and if he had been at Umqua that day he would have taken out the shooter.

Not surprisingly, there are those who believe many of these mass shootings are staged for the purpose of trying to place stricter gun laws on our society.  Alex Jones, the nutty Austin-based conspiracy theorist immediately suggested San Bernardino might just be one of those "false flags."  He strongly believed Sandy Hook was staged, and doubts the veracity of the Charleston shooting earlier this year, where Dylann Roof killed nine black parishioners.

Needless to say, it is virtually impossible to have an intelligent discussion about gun violence in this country when leading Presidential candidates and popular talk show hosts display such an incredible level of ignorance.  As Mark Twain would say, "never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience."

Instead, the more reputable news media try to offer a broader view on the subject and encourage their audience to participate in discussions, hoping to avoid trolls.  But, as we have found out with the Presidential debates, the broader audience tunes in to what promises to be the most entertaining spectacle, and that is the GOP debates, where one can marvel at the absurdity of the many claims, like one wonders how the hell that guy got onto American Idol.  CNN has even gone so far as to make its next GOP debate look like a UFC prize fight.  I'm sure guns and terrorism will be one of the main topics.

So, how to get to the bottom of this endless cycle of violence, which has left the President so deeply perplexed he doesn't even know what to say anymore.  He looked completely haggard in the wake of the San Bernardino shootings, leaving it to his Attorney General Loretta Lynch to issue a stern warning to those who would take this latest mass shooting as a call to arms against the American-Muslim community.

For its part, the American-Muslim community was quick to respond to the shooting, so as to avoid being made complicit in this latest act of domestic terrorism.  I say domestic because even though ISIS has tagged the San Bernardino couple as supporters, the FBI believes this couple acted entirely on their own, much like the Tsarnaev Brothers two years ago.

Of course, this won't stop hot heads like Ted Cruz and Alex Jones from spouting their ignorant theories and issuing a call to arms, but one hopes it will at least keep the other 90 per cent of the country relatively calm and not rushing to the nearest gun shop to buy AR15's and M16's with multiple rounds of ammunition.  Ironically, Americans are far more likely to shoot themselves or a loved one than they are an intruder or zombie.  So, one should pause before going on a shopping spree.  A gun in the house or on your person doesn't necessarily make you safer.

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