San Bernardino Shooting Was Terrorism
The shooting last week at a San Bernardino, California Christmas party was an act of terrorism. So says President Obama, who delivered a passionate prime-time address from the Oval Office on Sunday night on the topic of terrorism.
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Tashfeen Malik and her husband, Syed Rizwan Farook sprayed bullets at Farook’s co-workers, killing 14 at a holiday party for the environmental health department in San Bernardino before being killed themselves in a shootout with police. Malik and Farook pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in a Facebook post the day of the attack, prompting the FBI to treat the massacre as an act of terrorism.
Following the recent terrorist attack in Paris and now the massacre in San Bernardino, President Obama used a special prime-time address to calm fears among the American people and to reassure a nervous nation that their government is working to protect them.
“As we’ve become better at preventing complex multifaceted attacks like 9/11, terrorists turn to less complicated acts of violence like the mass shootings that are all too common in our society,” Mr. Obama said, citing incidents at Ft. Hood, Chattanooga, Tenn. and San Bernardino.
“Since the day I took this office, I’ve authorized U.S. forces to take out terrorists abroad precisely because I know how real the danger is,” he said. “As a father to two daughters who are the most precious part of my life, I know that we see ourselves with friends and co-workers at a holiday party like the one in San Bernardino. I know we see our kids in faces of the young people killed in Paris.”
“The threat from terrorism is real but we will overcome it,” he added.
President Obama called on Congress to change gun laws so that those who are on a no-fly list are not allowed to buy guns. He also challenged political leaders to restrict the purchase of semiautomatic assault weapons, which are unnecessary for hunting and are only used for killing people. However, the Republican Party, which remains under the deep control of the National Rifle Association, has rebuked any proposal that requires control of their precious guns.
“Congress should act to make sure no one on a no-fly list is able to buy a gun. What could possibly be the argument for allowing a terrorist suspect to buy a semiautomatic weapon? This is a matter of national security,” Mr. Obama said. “What we can do, and must do, is make it harder for them to kill.”
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Global terrorism is a difficult problem to contain, particularly since it is not always state-supported or directed by any one particular radical group. It is also not necessarily comprised of Muslims or related to the Islamic faith. Terrorists are like weeds and can sprout up, grow and be nurtured anywhere in the world. They can be Muslims, but they can also be Christians or Atheists too. Terrorism is an ideology. It can’t be combated with military might, but must be fought with words and deeds.
Republican rhetoric has almost irreversibly damaged the fight against terrorism, since it has targeted the Muslim faith as a whole and grouped all Muslims under the label of “terrorist.” This rhetoric has conditioned many Americans to become skittish about anyone who even looks Muslim, and has created an “Us vs. Them” mentality, which has played directly into the hands of groups like ISIS. Every time Republicans speak of Muslims as “the enemy,” who “hates our idea of freedom,” ISIS wins.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is one of the ring leaders stirring up anti-Muslim sentiment. After claiming he saw Muslims cheer the collapse of the World Trade Center on 9/11, Trump doubled-down on his racist remarks by saying he would consider requiring Muslim-Americans to register with a government database, or worse, mandate that they carry special identification cards that note their faith. And we wonder why dozens of new members are being recruited by ISIS daily to fight their battle.
If we truly want to fight terrorism, particularly on our own soil, we must stop giving humans reasons to become terrorists. We must destroy the notion that all Muslims (or anyone who looks like a Muslim) are terrorists. We must put an end to the divide that Republicans and groups like ISIS have created, which only serves their narrow political needs but destroys the rest of us in the process. Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists — we are not enemies but are all in this TOGETHER. And finally, we must break the back of the NRA and loose the control they have over our mentality regarding guns.
Recognizing the solution to the problem is not rocket science. Battling the stubborn will of Republican rhetoric, ISIS and the NRA to enact the solution is the challenge.
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