Dear Commons Community,
New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman today focuses on accused Las Vegas killer, Stephen Paddock, and speculates what our politicians, government officials, and pundits would be saying if he had been a Muslim or a member of ISIS. Here is an excerpt:
“If only Stephen Paddock had been a Muslim … If only he had shouted “Allahu akbar” before he opened fire on all those concertgoers in Las Vegas … If only he had been a member of ISIS … If only we had a picture of him posing with a Quran in one hand and his semiautomatic rifle in another …
If all of that had happened, no one would be telling us not to dishonor the victims and “politicize” Paddock’s mass murder by talking about preventive remedies.
No, no, no. Then we know what we’d be doing. We’d be scheduling immediate hearings in Congress about the worst domestic terrorism event since 9/11. Then Donald Trump would be tweeting every hour “I told you so,” as he does minutes after every terror attack in Europe, precisely to immediately politicize them. Then there would be immediate calls for a commission of inquiry to see what new laws we need to put in place to make sure this doesn’t happen again. Then we’d be “weighing all options” against the country of origin.
But what happens when the country of origin is us?
What happens when the killer was only a disturbed American armed to the teeth with military-style weapons that he bought legally or acquired easily because of us and our crazy lax gun laws?
Then we know what happens: The president and the Republican Party go into overdrive to ensure that nothing happens. Then they insist — unlike with every ISIS-related terror attack — that the event must not be “politicized” by asking anyone, particularly themselves, to look in the mirror and rethink their opposition to common-sense gun laws.
So let’s review: We will turn the world upside down to track down the last Islamic State fighter in Syria — deploying B-52s, cruise missiles, F-15s, F-22s, F-35s and U-2s. We will ask our best young men and women to make the ultimate sacrifice to kill or capture every last terrorist. And how many Americans has the Islamic State killed in the Middle East? I forget. Is it 15 or 20? And our president never stops telling us that when it comes to ISIS, defeat is not an option, mercy is not on the menu, and he is so tough he even has a defense secretary nicknamed “Mad Dog.”
But when fighting the N.R.A. — the National Rifle Association, which more than any other group has prevented the imposition of common-sense gun-control laws — victory is not an option, moderation is not on the menu and the president and the G.O.P. have no mad dogs, only pussycats.
And they will not ask themselves to make even the smallest sacrifice — one that might risk their seats in Congress — to stand up for legislation that might make it just a little harder for an American to stockpile an arsenal like Paddock did, including 42 guns, some of them assault rifles — 23 in his hotel room and 19 at his home — as well as thousands of rounds of ammunition and some “electronic devices.” Just another deer hunter, I guess.”
I would add that we have pundits such as Laura Ingraham claiming on Fox News that the reason for the Las Vegas massacre was that we don’t have enough religion in our country and especially in our schools. And TV religious huckster Pat Robertson saying that the massacre in Las Vegas was caused by lack of respect for President Donald Trump, protests during the national anthem and the country having no “vision of God.”
The country of origin is us indeed.