I've not said anything here (yet) about the killing of US service personnel in Chattanooga last week by what appears to have been a rogue 'lone wolf' Islamic terrorist. So much has been said about it by so many people that any comment from me would have been superfluous.
However, an article in the Washington Post this morning concerned me very much. It was headlined 'Angry protesters in Chattanooga: When’s the government going to do something?' Here's an excerpt.
“I can’t believe these people even come here to this country!” one woman yelled. “Why do they come here?”
“Because they want to kill us,” a man answered.
The television cameras edged closer to get a tight shot of Proxmire’s tears. The agitated crowd, many of them carrying holstered pistols, wanted to know why the Obama administration and the military weren’t doing more to kill Islamist extremists in Iraq, Syria or wherever they might be. They were furious at a U.S. military policy, enacted during the Clinton administration, that prevents recruiters from carrying firearms while on duty.
“How many more mothers have to go through this before we finally do something about it?” yelled Darrell Gibbs, 55, pastor at Highways and Hedges Ministries. “How many mothers have to suffer like this, having cameras shoved down their throats?”
The attack in Chattanooga, and the raw anger it has provoked here, illustrate the increasingly daunting odds that U.S. counterterrorism agencies face in an era marked by surging Islamist propaganda and a proliferation of disparate, self-radicalized, one-off threats.
. . .
Such attacks are incredibly difficult to detect and stop, officials said. The growing signs that Abdulazeez had self-radicalized and acted alone were of little solace to many in Chattanooga who were convinced the government was not doing enough to protect them.
At Carl Poston’s family-owned gun shop, a few miles from Abdulazeez’s home, demand for concealed-carry classes doubled in the days after the shooting. Shooter’s Depot, a gun store on the other side of town, said it had seen a fivefold increase, with as many as 100 people a day requesting spots in the gun classes.
“I just can’t agree that the best we can do is pray for Chattanooga,” Hamilton County Public Defender Steve Smith wrote on his Facebook page. “I think the best we can do is ascertain who our enemies are, whether foreign or domestic, and then kill them. . . . This same thing will happen again, likely soon, unless our government can do a better job of identifying our enemies.”
Even the Marines, who have grown grimly accustomed to combat casualties over the course of nearly 14 years of continuous war, viewed these deaths as somehow different and more unsettling.
“When you’re in a combat environment . . . and someone gets killed by an IED or a direct-fire engagement, as horrible as that is, its easier to accept,” said Maj. Mike Abrams, who lost four of his Marines in the attack. “When they are stateside in Chattanooga, in the heartland of America, and they kiss their wife and kids and say goodbye and go to work and they get shot . . . the shock of that is much harder to accept and much harder to find meaning in.”
There's more at the link.
There are three very serious problems with the attitudes expressed in and information contained in this report.
First, if we depend on 'the government' to do something, we're barking up the wrong tree. It's our government that has allowed - invited - millions upon millions of Muslims from radicalized regions of the world into our country. It did so under previous administrations as well. Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama have all been responsible for allowing, even encouraging such immigration. We've deliberately allowed potential enemies into our nest. It's too late to expect the government to 'do something about them'. That's crying over spilt milk, and it won't help. Our emphasis should be on stopping the government from continuing such potentially dangerous policies, and reversing them if possible. Certainly, at the very least, any breach of the law perpetrated by such refugees should become automatic grounds for expulsion. There should also be far greater and more intensive scrutiny of them before they become eligible for permanent residence and, in due course, citizenship.
Second, it's pointless to blame the government for 'not doing enough to protect' us. The government can't protect us against crime and random violence as it is. All police can do is document the crime, clean up the mess, and (hopefully) catch the perpetrators and deliver them to the criminal justice system for trial and punishment. That was the situation even before we had to deal with potential terrorists in our midst. Our security has always been, remains, and will always be, primarily in our own hands. However, we have to accept that responsibility and behave accordingly. For example:
- If I were in the military right now, and my superiors denied me the means to defend myself against such an attack, I'd respectfully use any and all means at my disposal to protest such a denial. I'd take the issue to my congressional representative and Senators, and insist that they take it up with the executive; and I'd get as many of my buddies as possible to do the same with their representatives and Senators. I wouldn't take such a policy lying down.
- I think every citizen and legal resident of the USA should take steps to arm themselves for their own defense, and obtain the necessary training and permits to be able to carry their weapons with them wherever they go. If certain businesses refuse to allow legal concealed carry on their premises, that's their right - but it's our right to refuse to patronize them. Let's stand up for our right to self-defense, and not whimper like defenseless children in the face of the threat.
- We need to take responsibility for our own society as a whole. Instead of allowing ghetto mentalities to develop among certain races or groups in society, we need to analyze those that have developed and actively intervene to break them down. We need to educate those involved, change what we can about the conditions in which they live, and ensure that those who choose an introverted lifestyle tolerant of crime and violence and extremism are put on notice that their actions and attitudes will no longer be tolerated. This need not wait for government action, which in any event probably won't be forthcoming. We can do it through churches, neighborhood watches, business associations, and social groups. There are many possibilities. We need to become proactive rather than reactive in dealing with the problem.
There are those who will say that such approaches are utopian; that people simply won't stand up for themselves and do what's needed. They may be right . . . but in that case, why expect the government to do what people won't do for themselves? We elect our government. We elect representatives who appoint officials who implement policies that we want. If we abdicate our responsibilities as citizens and voters, and allow those who rule our cities and states and country to do as they please, we have nothing coming if they won't do what's necessary.
Finally, we need to understand something very fundamental about the outlook of Islamic terrorists. Many of them come from societies where they've seen Western armies invade their countries, occupy their cities, give everyone orders about how to behave, use overwhelming force to give effect to those orders, and - in some cases - commit deeds that we would regard as crimes if committed against us. Some of them are well known: Abu Ghraib, the Nisour Square massacre, 'extraordinary renditions' and secret prisons, the use of torture against detainees, and so on.
The more radical groups, and their propaganda that inspires 'lone wolves' such as the Chattanooga attacker, place great emphasis on these issues, and take the stand that if it's legitimate for the USA to act in such ways in Islamic countries and against Muslims, it's surely equally legitimate for Muslims to use the same or similar techniques against the USA and its citizens. Add to that a heady mixture of appeals to the history of Islam and its conquest of much of the known world, religious fanaticism, and a hefty dose of propaganda, and you have a recipe that virtually guarantees further attacks, both by groups coming from outside and from those already within our borders who are inspired to turn rogue.
Persuasion isn't going to stop such attackers. They're going to keep on coming. Chattanooga was merely the latest in a long line of attacks, and there will be more. Our only recourse is to prepare ourselves, as far as we can, to face them; to resist them when they occur; and to end them as fast as possible, with minimum casualties to our side. The government won't be able to do that, just as police can't prevent crime before it occurs - they can only respond when or after it goes down. We remain our own first responders . . . and that's the way it's always been. Wishful thinking can't and won't change that.