Thought of the Day

Muslim Americans are just the latest iteration of majority-America chastising a relatively new immigrant group, claiming that group will never be compatible to American values. There are blogs, op-eds, and pseudo-academia all making claims that Muslims are fundamentally incompatible with American society.

However, if anyone is at all familiar with American history, then you’ll know the same language was used against the Irish for being Catholic, Italians for being a different sort of Catholic, Jews, and German-Americans and Japanese-Americans during World War II. Using this same language, we’ve even banned the immigration of Chinese (specifically) and Asians (generally) via the Asian Exclusion Act.

Next up, Muslims. I’m sure there are plenty of people who are ready to make excuses as to why and how Muslims are different from all of those other groups; how we haven’t seen this history lesson repeatedly; how this scenario is somehow unique.

For a brief history lesson, Muslims have been in the Americas ever since Europeans have been in the Americas. We’ve been here as African slaves, comprising between 15-25% of all slaves. Some have been here among Columbus’s boats following a freshly-conquered Spain over the former Muslim rulers. Arab immigrants came in the mid-late 1800s from present-day Syria and established the oldest mosque in the US in Iowa. Many African-Americans, as descendants of slaves, began to re-discover their Islamic roots during the 1900s via a number of social movements. By the 1970s, many African Americans found mainstream Islam (abandoning ethnically-based movements only scantly related to Islam). Around the same time, legislation was removed that restricted or excluded Asian immigrants, thereby allowing other Muslim peoples to immigrate to the US. Therefore, if anything, our requisite oppression before entering mainstream society is long overdue.

San Bernardino Terrorism: Part Dos

I’m aware that I could by now have revised my previous post in light of the fact that the assailants were in fact Muslims. However, I think that would diminish from my point – we need to retain a focus on the real issues. So far, authorities and the media are unsure if they want to refer to this as terrorism or as workplace violence or both. Frankly, I’m not opposed to calling it terrorism as long as we call all mass shootings an act of terrorism, regardless of the faith or ethnicity of the assailants.

We also need to retain focus on sensible gun control and law enforcement. I’m personally not convinced that additional gun legislation will be effective unless we have adequate funding for the agencies to enforce any existing and new legislation. What we need not focus on, in this specific case, is Islamic terrorism because, supposing these individuals were fully indoctrinated by and working for ISIS, they nonetheless procured and amassed (legally if I’m not mistaken) all of their necessary tools of destruction. In that regard, whether this couple was acting for ISIS or were just an angry white American (i.e. Planned Parenthood’s Mr. Dear), solving the issue of amassing these weapons of destruction will work toward mitigating either.

Supposing this couple was anti-social and were possibly on edge about popular American society then how does one know to inform any authorities about these types? Let’s clear our minds of imagery of Islamic terrorists or Muslims or whoever. As we’ve seen in the past two weeks, your crazy Uncle Dear or your crazy Brother-in-Law Farook could find themselves being your latest mass shooter. Without any evidence or suspicion beyond a feeling or idea that “he just ain’t right”, how does one know to take the next step and inform law enforcement? What do you say?

  • Concerned Relative: Hello. My brother-in-law seems off.
  • Law Enforcement: What do you mean? In what way?
  • CR: He just seems a bit crazy, kinda anti-social. I’m concerned.
  • LE: Is he displaying threatening behavior?
  • CR: No. He just seems angry at the world. He sometimes talks about how he doesn’t like his co-workers (Or, he sometimes talks about how he hates abortions and people that kill babies. Or, he sometimes talks about how he hates American foreign policy in the Muslim world).
  • LE: Is there an immediate danger to anyone? Has he made any threatening statements or gestures?
  • CR: Not that I know of.
  • LE: Ok. Please provide further contact info and we’ll follow up.

Perhaps in a world of unlimited funding everyone can call the authorities on anyone in their lives that seems a bit angry at something in the world and someone will follow up promptly. Seeing as we need search warrants and the NRA has successfully blocked any attempt to maintain gun ownership databases, I have no idea what law enforcement would find unless there is evidence being provided by the Concerned Relative.

The fact is that we live in a finite world and we’ll never have a future-crime police force a la Minority Report. If we acted on anyone’s fetish to detain all Muslims for being suspicious then there would be no logical means to prohibit acting the same way against anti-abortionists or anyone else that, as a group, may be deemed threatening. If we turned most of our attention against Muslims, how would that prevent the next Planned Parenthood shooting? Or the next South Carolina church shooting? Or the next Oregon community college shooting? Or the next Colorado/Louisiana movie theater shooting? Or the next Sikh temple shooting? Or the next Jewish community center shooting? Or the next school shooting?

In these times where popular political rhetoric against Muslims is very literally sounding like Nazi Germany against Jews, we must remain sober-minded about how to mitigate these tragedies. To unduly focus on Muslims now is to give Mr. Dear and 353 of the 355 mass shootings in the US this year a pass. And to expect Muslims to somehow know who is harboring some malicious intention is to vastly overestimate anyone’s ability to predict future behavior. In the case of San Bernardino, and similar to Oregon, or Sandy Hook, and too many others, the assailants seemed to be going about their day as normal.