Friday, December 4, 2015

Mass Shootings, Terrorism and Motives

What we have again seen in the last few weeks is that how you frame a mass shooting has a large impact on the political reaction of folks on the Left or Right.

It's fair to ask why motives are so important:

"A Muslim extremist? A disgruntled worker? A Christian fanatic? A racist? A misogynist? With each mass shooting, Americans struggle to fathom what motivated the killer. The F.B.I. is treating the slaughter of 14 people in San Bernardino as a terrorism case, raising fears of a domestic threat from the Islamic State. But does it matter whether someone is killed by a Muslim extremist or someone with a less dramatic reason to pull the trigger?"

What's clear is that conservatives don't worry too much about mass shootings. They are just part of life, the price of freedom. We've had 355 of them this year and the response is always the same. Pray, a moment of silence, and then forget about it.

Like what happened in San Bernardino wasn't a worry for conservatives, until it emerged that the shooter was a Muslim.

The very serious pundits were all over President Obama in the wake of the Paris attacks for not being more fire and brimstone. Now this was an attack on foreign rather than US soil that tragically killed 28 people.

But after Sandy Hook, which claimed 26 Americans it was felt President Obama 'politicized' the killings.

Mass shootings don't worry conservatives, unless they are called 'terroism.' But even terrorism doesn't worry them-if it's performed by white males rather than Muslims.

Of course, in America, there has been more terrorism by white males than Middle Eastern Muslims.

We worry too much about 'terrorism' than other kinds of mass shootings and probably too much about mass shootings in more 'everyday' types of shootings.

"The numbers suggest that ideological violence — by Muslims, Christians or others — is not a leading threat to public safety in the United States. Out of 14,000 murders that the country experiences each year, a few dozen per year — less than 1 percent — are caused by political or religious ideologies."

"Yet these instances of ideological violence generate a disproportionate amount of public attention and concern. Under the label of “terrorism” and "homeland security," ideological violence has its own news beat, separate from other forms of crime. It has its own legal regulations and government agencies to enforce them. It has its own Congressional committees and campaign platforms."

"But fixating on ideological violence, above all other forms of violence, plays into the hands of terrorists. Their goal is to frighten as many people as possible, beyond the immediate site of violence, and they rely on our frenzied reactions to serve as a “multiplier effect” for their limited ability to recruit and organize militants."

"Even among instances of ideological violence, we seem to be more scared of some ideologies than others. Right-wing extremists have killed as many people in the United States as Muslim extremists in recent years, and possibly more — data sources differ on the precise counts — and more law enforcement agencies say they are concerned about anti-government violent extremism than violent extremism associated with Islamic radicalism."

"But we don’t see calls to monitor anti-government moderates, the way we see calls to monitor moderate Muslims. Instead, we see partisan responses to ideological violence: conservatives believe that all Muslims are partially to blame for the actions of the Muslim fringe; liberals believe that all right-wingers are partially to blame for the actions of the right-wing fringe."

So what about liberals? The liberal position is consistent. Whether San Bernardino was about workplace violence or Jihadist inspired the killers shouldn't have been able to acquire such an arsenal of firearms.

True, if, as now seems more likely, the killers were radicalized, it adds another dimension to it-how so you prevent such homegrown terrorists? But even still, the issue of guns remains front and center.

Conservatives try to say that the liberals are against fighting ISIS which is false. To be sure, what happened Wednesday night was not ISIS but maybe ISIS inspired. It's not likely that we will be hit by ISIS but the ISIS lone wolf is the threat. 

Even so, perspective is needed. The chance that an American will be the victim of precisely this sort of attack is very slim. What about the other types which are much more likely?

No comments:

Post a Comment