Thoughts At Large

Passionate thoughts on random topics

Tag: terrorism

Madness

“You say the world is full of bullshit so you kill just how you see fit. They say your fanatic with a mission.”   -The Kinks, Killer’s Eyes

There is madness in the world today. Brussels is still smoldering from the latest terrorist attack, Paris and Ankara live under the continual threat of follow-up attacks and the United States guards against a similar attack. There are pain and suffering on all sides and there is seemingly no end in sight.

And yet, it is our reaction to these horrific events that will define us. Our initial reaction is seldom based on facts but almost always based on emotion. No amount of terror can justify our lashing out. We have a responsibility to weigh our response against our humanity. To do otherwise is to lower ourselves to the level of those against whom we seek to respond. Blown out windows and screaming children will always garner our attention and foster thoughts of retribution. However, it is our clinical response that results in the best outcomes.

To blame these vituperative remarks on anything but our blood lust for revenge is to discredit our humanity and liken us to those who wish to do us harm; best to leave it to the professionals. We have the greatest military the world has ever seen and it is their job to root out terrorists and keep us safe. It is beneath us to judge our Muslim neighbors and paint with a broad brush a religion practiced by one-fifth of the earth’s population any more than it is reasonable to judge Christians by the Crusades, the Westboro Baptist Church, or the KKK.

There is always a knee-jerk reaction to want to elicit revenge. I would urge us to tamp down that reaction and allow our intelligence community to do its job before engaging our military to do its. The loss of life and terror inflicted on Brussels today is horrific and the result of the cowardice expressed by several individuals and an organization bent on the destruction of western society in favor of a world view already eclipsed by 500 years of civilization. No amount of retribution against the innocent practitioners of the same faith as those who carried out these attacks can be justified.

Pain is universal and we cannot trade in that practice if we expect to hold ourselves above the lowest common denominator of mankind. Please don’t misunderstand, I want these barbarians to be brought to justice as much as the next person, however, I don’t believe it is the job of the individual to do the heavy lifting, rather I believe it is the responsibility and duty of our government to find and prosecute terrorists.

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many wearing rapiers are afraid of goose-quills

A gun is not a religion. It is not a family member. It cannot vote. It is made, by humans, for humans, to kill (sometimes humans).

Yesterday, cloaked in the delusion that their special deity had his tender feelings bruised by a cartoon, three gunmen (sorry NRA, they are gunmen) slaughtered 12 other human beings for having the audacity to write and draw; for expressing an opinion with humor. A gun is not a religion.

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Ceci n’est pas une religion.

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This is not a religion.

And yet, twelve people are now dead because they drew cartoons, poked fun at people (all people) and made people stop, think and laugh. Think about that.

And before you think, well, that’s militant European Islamic extremism for you! Remember that 282 people are shot every day in America in murders, assaults, suicides, suicide attempts, accidents and police actions. Eighty six die, including 8 children and teens. Every day.  If you’re curious what a typical day looks like, you can read about it here. Twelve were gunned down in Paris yesterday in a terrorist attack at a magazine and the world stopped.  Here in America, whether it is due to religion, domestic violence, depression, suicide, economic pressure or any other pressure, easy access to a firearm causes twelve deaths every 3 hours and 20 minutes.

Four years ago today, U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords and 18 others were shot in Tucson, AZ when a gunman opened fire. Six people were killed, including nine year old Christina Taylor Green, who had been born on September 11, 2001; a precious life bookended by tragedy.

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A gun is not a family member.

“But we must have guns because that socialist emperor Obummer is coming for our guns and we must be able to fight back a tyrannical government.” Yes, in the six years, Obama has been President, he has confiscated exactly zero guns while the paranoia machine that is the NRA, mouthpiece of the gun manufacturers has conjured up explosive gun sales growth based of this mythology. Who’s the sucker? And yet, there are still those, especially in the Texas open carry “movement” who, because they are “true patriots” and “love this country so much” are determined to overthrow their beloved country because democracy moves too slowly. I kid you not.

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A gun cannot vote.

So, keep your gun, in fact, keep your religion. Give me my family and friends; leave me to my paper and pens.

That Buzzing in My Head

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When I was in college at the University of Connecticut, three hundred years ago (from 1983-87), we endured the occasional bomb threat.  Students rolled their eyes and trudged outside into the slush soaked mud where grass used to grow in the fall (before students commandeered it for the traction and width it provided instead of risking a broken neck on the iced-over and far too thin walkways). 

Bomb threats were a nuisance, they disrupted classes and schedules and not once did they prevent a test or quiz from being given.  If class was cancelled, they were given the next day.  We all knew who had called in the threat.  It was always some nitwit who had been out partying the night before instead of studying.  He was either hung-over or just plain unprepared for the exam.  No media frenzy was created.  Parents only found out about the threat if students bothered to mention the disruption to their schedule on their next visit home.  Sure, there was always that buzzing in the back of your head, “but what if it’s real,” however, we pushed that aside and went about our business.

In the years since, the world has changed, both for the better and worse.  The internet has evolved as our main source of information.  IPhones, iPads and MacBook Pro’s have replaced landlines in the dorm room, student discounted newspaper subscriptions and renting a typewriter in the bowels of the main library for $1.00 an hour.  We have also endured the paradigm shifting event of September 11, 2001.  The equivalent of our grandparent’s December 7, 1941 (but closer to home) and our parent’s November 22, 1963 (but more personal), enduring that day changed forever the way we see ourselves, our country and the world.  It was as if, in the instant the second plane hit the South Tower, we ripped out the partially written pages of the rest of our lives and inserted blank, blood stained pulp instead.  Living in Rhode Island, halfway between the origination of the flights (Boston) and their initial targets (NYC), my children’s elementary school was in lockdown mode for hours, my wife stationed outside the main door waiting to scoop them into her protective arms.  Unimaginable horror had reached our shores.  The great oceans that had buffered us in two world wars gave way to the globalization of terror.  Nobody was safe anymore.  The buzzing had intensified.

Now my children are in college, freshmen at the University of Texas at Austin.  Three days ago, they suffered through what I remember as a disruptive, but innocuous event caused by an unprepared knucklehead.  Instead, they heard the campus-wide siren wail for attention followed by text messages to clear all buildings.  A caller, who claimed not to be a student and affiliated with Al-Qaeda, said he had placed bombs all around campus and that they would detonate in 90 minutes.  Two other schools also reported bomb threats that day.  The FBI is investigating to see if they are connected.  My children, although they performed quickly and efficiently in evacuating campus together, were shaken by the event.  Following the adrenaline crash that night, they were almost nonverbal when we video chatted with them.  You could almost see the effect the buzzing in the back of their heads was having on them.

I’m all but certain this was the result of yet another unprepared student, separated generationally from my era, but convinced, nonetheless, that this was the only way to avoid a catastrophic grade.  However, given the world in which we live, that faint buzzing in the back of my head now takes on the scream of airliners overhead and the horrific thud of those who decided to jump rather than burn.  I will never forget those sounds and I can never assume that terrorism, either foreign or domestic, has not visited upon my children’s lives.  Text messaging and phone calls link me to them during these times, if the cellular network withstands the spike in usage.  We have to let them leave the nest and fly, but now I no longer shrug when I hear of a bomb threat on campus.  The buzzing is too loud.