In light of the recent massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, the media at large has been awash with the usual conservative vs. progressive responses to the tragedy. Conservative voices are pointing out that we need to be honest about the link between Islamic terrorism and the core values of the mainstream faith itself. Progressive voices are being extremely outspoken about the need for America to do something about its lax gun laws, which are the most obvious reasons for why the US suffers regular horrific public massacres, not to mention weekly tragedies involving children and firearms.
In response to progressive calls for gun control, conservatives have predictably emphasized the left’s unwillingness to consider the guilt of Islam itself in these precedings, as time and time again progressives attempt to placate Islam in the face of death at its hand. Likewise, we get the typical paranoia of conservative Americans that the government is coming to take their guns, after which many of them expect the military to appear at their door to take them away to communist POW camps.
Likewise, progressives respond to the right with the usual spiel of how we have a general problem with terrorism rather than a specific problem with Islamic terrorism, or how all religions all teach peace and have equal potential for abuse etc. As this shooting has as much in common with high-school massacres by white (and presumably Christian raised) adolescents as it does with previous acts of Islamic terrorism, progressives have thus attempted to paint this as a continuation of the former rather than the latter. In doing so, some progressives have attempted to argue that the assailant was the odd man out in being Muslim, and that conservatives are just being racist in attempting to use this as an excuse to push their Islamaphobic agenda.
Many observers could be excused for thinking that the arguments from each side were mutually exclusive, and that one merely needs to pick a side in this debate. However, as I have said before and will say again and again, whilst the truth of an issue isn’t always found halfway (or at least somewhere) in between the two opposite extremes, it is most commonly the case that it is.
The truth of this situation is quite simple:
The world as a whole does indeed have a serious issue with Islamic terrorism, and America does also have a major issue with gun control.
I would hope that aside from ideological bias, the above was simply common sense in light of the evidence that we face. Here are the facts: Worldwide, a significant percentage of terrorist acts occurring at the moment are being perpetrated by Islamic fanatics. If you follow world news rather than simply just watching local news, you will discover that these kinds of attacks happen practically every day in countries like Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nigeria, Egypt and so forth. Likewise, acts of Islamic terrorism have become more frequent in first-world, western countries over the past few years, with highly organized, large-scale acts of war occurring throughout Europe, along with countless smaller tragedies inflicted by so-called “lone-wolves”, who see themselves as fulfilling their part in the world-wide war against the West.
Whilst I personally am no conservative (I most certainly vote left), the fact remains that progressives at large have their heads in the sand regarding militant Islam. These attacks keep occurring, they will keep occurring, and every single time the left responds by excusing Islam from any fault. We must remember that criticizing an ideology is not the same thing as racism, and that one can simultaneously abhor crimes committed against Muslims on the basis of their race or religion, whilst simultaneously be critical of the nature of Islam itself.
Likewise, I am very open to the possibility that the foreign policy of some Western nations (the US in particular) promotes terrorism by covertly supplying arms and military training to organizations that it believes can overthrow foreign leaders that they view as threats. Hence, I am open to the possibility that the CIA could itself be considered a terrorist organization, and such critiques of the actions of the West. However, even if this were the case, the reality is that we would still have a problem with Islam.
I am actually in the process of starting to read the Koran through (whereas I have previously only checked citations of various passages cited by critics, all of which I found to be accurate, in context and appearing frequently rather than just sporadically), and right from the very beginning the Koran itself is concerned heavily with judgment and divine wrath for those that reject its message. Sure, it says that Allah is merciful, but then in the next passage it says woe to those who disbelieve, for the eternal fires will not spare them. This is the true nature of the Koran; it reads much like a fundamentalist Christian commentary on Revelation, filtered by medieval Arabic tribal customs.
On the flip side of the equation, America has a horrific history of public massacres, performed by civilians with no common political, nationalistic or religious ideology that can be identified as motivating their actions. The only common denominators in these cases are that almost all of the assailants have been male, and that they involved the use of firearms, and in some of the worst cases, automatic or semi-automatic guns.
Again, these massacres keep happening and will keep happening as long as Americans have an almost religious attachment to the 2nd Amendment. Gun-ownership in America is practically part of the national identity; it is taken as some sort of fundamental human right, like access to water, food and land. Talk about trying to actually do something about gun violence (and accidental shootings) in the US and people lose their minds. The idea of the government coming to take their guns away is like some sort of end-times precursor to many Americans, who seem to have this idea that a fascist elite will push the US to forcibly disarm its population, after which it will face no resistance to its totalitarian agenda.
If I lived in the US I would have to consider leaving, simply on the basis of the frequency of public massacres and accidental shootings. If I were a parent in the US (I am a parent here in Australia) I would probably try and leave for the sake of my children, as many children have been wounded or killed either accidently or deliberately at the hands of other children who had access to their parents firearms.
It seems a pretty simple equation, that the US has a disproportionately high percentage of gun-ownership, and it also has a disproportionately high percentage of gun related injuries and deaths, particularly for a first world country not at war on its own soil (with the exclusion of acts of terrorism). I have heard a number of alternative explanations from American friends as to why the US has so many public shootings, such as mental-health issues specific to the US, problems with over-prescription of powerful, legal antidepressants and so forth. However, even if it were to be shown that the US had specific problems with these issues, it is pretty hard to imagine how access to firearms could be completely unrelated to gun related injuries and deaths in the US. Even if we were to exclude the public massacres, we would still have countless accidental shootings, committed by both adults and children. Again, these cases are almost entirely absent in countries like Australia where the level of gun ownership is comparatively low.
The left at large holds this ideology of equality, which can be seen as a virtue in its correct context, but is also leading many people to refuse to face the facts. Religious, political and other ideologies do indeed sometimes directly condone and promote violence against those outside their community, and these ideologies do also sometimes promote the ideal of a worldwide totalitarian empire. This ideological refusal to accept that Islam is not the same as other religions is preventing a frank discussion about what can actually be done to prevent these incidents from occurring in the future. If you truly care about freedom, justice, health, prosperity, equality and equity (as the left is supposed to), then you must be honest about what is happening, so that we can try and create a better world in the future.
Likewise, America at large (and conservative American’s in particular) have a religious attachment to this idea of their human right to own deadly weapons, even to the point of absolute insanity in openly carrying loaded automatic weapons in public in some states. And again, this ideological attachment to gun ownership is preventing the US from doing something about the tragic deaths of its citizens at home. If you truly care about liberty, freedom and preserving all the great features of Western culture (as the right are supposed to) then you must be willing to consider the most obvious explanation that personal ownership of deadly weapons is truly a curse upon your country.
As a final note, I would like to express my sympathy for all the victims of terrorism, public massacres and accidental shootings. I would also like to express my sympathy specifically for members of the LGBT community, as you were deliberately targeted in the Orlando attack, and you still find yourselves having to fight for your right to exist, even in first world countries in 2016.