I was going to write about Syrian refugees and the difficult – if not impossible – position they find themselves in, just trying to get out of Syria. I’ll probably publish that next week, depending on the news.
Yesterday as I left the gift shop where I volunteer, I saw a “breaking news” story on one of the televisions there.
Three Two people had entered a facility that assists developmentally-delayed people and started shooting.
14 people are dead.
There isn’t a lot of information at this point, though the shooting happened yesterday.
The latest report is that police chased an SUV into Redlands, stopped the vehicle and there was a shootout. The man and a woman – the shooters – are dead. A third suspect is in police custody, and not much is known about who that person is.
At least one shooter is a U.S. citizen.
The dead male shooter has been identified as Syed Reswan Farook. The dead female shooter has been identified as Tashfeen Malik. No one is sure what her relationship to the man is, perhaps the dead man’s wife.
No one is commenting on a motive. Initial reports indicate that one of the shooters had an argument with someone at the site of the shooting, and came back with one other person, or two other people, depending on the report, armed with AK-47s and dressed all in black.
Of course, there are the usual murmurs that it’s a terrorist attack. NBC reports that “David Bowdich, the FBI’s assistant director in Los Angeles, said the incident was being regarded as ‘possibly terrorism’ ” (“At Least 14 Dead in California Shooting, Two Suspects Killed”, NBC website, M. Alex Johnson, Corky Seimaszko, Pete Williams, and Tom Winter, 12/2/2015, 9:49PM).
Police also found suspicious items in the building – “rudimentary explosive devices” connected to a remote control (which was found in their vehicle). The shooters were also wearing body armor. This apparently was a planned attack.
Some things struck me about this incident. The first thing was, there were reports that the male shooter became angry during some kind of company function (either training or party, it’s not clear which).
I wonder if it had anything to do with the hateful, ignorant comments I hear on a daily basis about Muslims. That doesn’t excuse the shooting, but it does kind of go a ways towards explaining it.
The second thing was, people were texting others during the attack – who does that?? – and asking for prayer. People were seen outside, after the attack, holding hands and praying.
That pissed me off. Sorry, but it did. These kinds of things just serve to make whatever happened some kind of religious conflict between people and their gods. It reduces a complicated set of circumstances to “our god will save us” and “their god is evil”.
If the Christian god was so involved in peoples’ lives, don’t you think he/she would have prevented the shooting in the first place?
When Muslims pray, do these Christians really think the prayer is re-routed to some other deity than the one they think is “all-knowing, all-present”?
What about the rest of us? Why do we have to be stuck in the middle between fanatical Muslims and fanatical Christians? Both groups incite and feed off one another.
Many Christians think they are entitled to force their religion on everyone, no matter where they are. Any attempts to curb this are met with screams that they are being persecuted.
Many Muslims think they are entitled, also, to force their religion on everyone, but when they are determined to do that it is usually by violence. Attempts to weed out the violent factions from the lesser, more mainstream followers are met with screams that they are being discriminated against.
I am sick of both groups. Shut up already.
The rest of us don’t bother anyone. We don’t hassle Christians for praying everywhere, and we don’t hassle Muslims for wearing hijabs. We don’t hassle the Amish for dressing old-timey and traveling in buggies, and we don’t hassle Hassidic Jews for wearing beards and having different haircuts.
If any person does, they are usually arrested and punished in some way. That’s as it should be.
What is the difference between, say, the Amish and fundamentalist Christians? They both have what the rest of us might call “strict beliefs”.
The difference is, the Amish never make any attempt to convert or push their ideas on “the English” (what they call the rest of us). They have their communities, and they follow U.S. laws and so on. They don’t run for office or make political statements.
What on earth is the matter with these 2 religious sects – Muslims and Christians – that they cause so much destruction and heartache wherever they are? Why is it these 2 particular religions feel that they have to get involved in politics and try to legislate their beliefs on the rest of us?
Yes, the people in these religions who do this are the fundamentalist sects. But there seems to be no attempt made by others of their religion to tell them to knock it off, to explain to them that our country is not dictated by religious principles, and that it never will be unless they want to kill or jail sizable portions of the population.
Some people will brush this off as some kind of aberrant behavior that has nothing to do with religion. A “workplace dispute”. Yeah ok, but…
…we do this at our peril. It depends on what the “workplace dispute” was about.
Was it a situation where the person had taken all he could take, hearing cracks about his culture and/or religion day in and day out? Because, you know, anyone saying that this doesn’t happen is either very stupid or very foolish or just doesn’t want to see what’s going on.
Was it a personal situation where he just got angry about some job-related thing that happened one day?
I really doubt it, as most people do not have body armor, automatic weapons, and home-made bombs just sitting around their house for them to retrieve after some random argument.
This was planned. So whatever “dispute” this guy had with others, it must have been pretty serious in order for him to not only do this, but to enlist the help of his wife/girlfriend to do it, too.
And they left behind a 6 month old baby. That doesn’t sound like some random workplace dispute to me.
If we dismiss this, as we dismissed the shooting at Fort Hood in 2009 (psychiatrist enters base and starts shooting; he had contacted Al Quaeda and had become radicalized months before the shooting), as a “workplace dispute”, we’re not looking into a cause that might be preventable.
I am not sure why this seems to be such a taboo subject. If the authorities are afraid it will increase anti-Islamic sentiment in this country by examining how this person thought and why, they’re too late.
This country is already experiencing a major anti-Islamic sentiment across the board.
I don’t think examining things is ever a bad thing. I think it’s the only way we can understand the world.
But, of course, we just killed the two attackers, so it’s not likely we will ever know now.
And we will continue to kill attackers, because there just isn’t a decent policy in place to handle situations like these – not one that works, anyway.
This is not a good thing. This reduces our police to combatants in a war they do not understand, battling people who may or may not have a political or religious agenda.
It will not decrease the inflammatory and disgusting language used by fundamentalist Christians, right-wing loudmouths, and now some mainstream “concerned citizens”. And so, perhaps, the cycle continues.
If I, as a peaceful Pagan, get angry and feel intimidated by the things said on the bus by ignorant Fox News watchers, I can only imagine how someone whose beliefs are entrenched would react to people like that. After all, they don’t even discuss Pagans. They discuss Muslims.
And if that kind of language and pontificating upsets me to the point where I want to throw something at them, I cannot even begin to understand how upsetting it would be to a Muslim of any stripe.
I can, however, imagine how a fundamentalist Muslim who is fed up might react to it.
So, my opinion is, we ignore fundamentalists of any religion at our own risk. Because they are not harmless. Even if they never physically hurt anyone, they still do a great deal of damage…
…to the rest of us.
I see a big ol’ game of “let’s pretend” going on. Let’s just ignore that there is any religious aspect to any of this, and maybe it will just go away. Because we really do not want to offend any religious people, except for maybe Pagans and Rastas and other “weirdos” (who are usually the first ones rounded up and jailed/killed during a fascist regime).
We need to have a serious conversation in this country about what constitutes “religious freedom”, and what is just pushingpushingpushing beliefs on the community at large.
Christians are going to have to take a hard look at some of their brothers and sisters and examine how their religious views mask a more serious and hateful agenda. Or even just look at their flawed thinking where “religious freedom” is concerned.
I honestly think that a lot of Christians – or at least the ones I know – don’t realize how their constant assertion of their religion comes off to others who don’t believe as they do. In other words, “smug”, and “self-righteous”.
A brief example would be of a woman I volunteer with. Someone she didn’t know died in her apt building last week. Yet this woman approached the man’s relatives as they were cleaning out the man’s apartment to ask if he had “known Jesus”.
She didn’t even know these people! But she told me she just had to ask because she was so afraid the man had gone to hell “for not knowing our Lord”.
She didn’t see a thing wrong with that. And therein lies the problem.
I have a friend who posts a lot on Facebook, who often makes the point that religions are the basis of conflict in the world.
I still believe the primary conflict in the world is class-based.
But he has a good point. Religion can serve to justify some pretty horrific behavior, including wars. And I think we as a society really need to have a few conversations about this.
Gone are the days of WWII, for example, when we could just declare that a god was on one side or another (America’s), and everyone seemed to just accept that and repeat it often.
But certainly not everyone felt or thought like that. I’m pretty sure my parents didn’t. Yes, they went to church but I never heard them express the idea that their god supported one side or another in war.
They kept quiet, though. A lot of people kept quiet – they had to have done – because the popular culture at the time was in this “praise god and pass the ammunition” mode.
We keep quiet now at our peril.
We cannot reduce what happened to gun laws (or lack of), mental health issues, workplace disputes, Muslim terrorists, or lack of “values” (translation: Christian values). We need to look at all aspects of what happened, with an objective eye, so we can figure out maybe how to prevent something like this happening again.
Knee-jerk reactions are not helpful. We need people to analyze this with a dispassionate sensibility.
I wish, more than ever, that my dad was still alive. He would have had an objective perspective on all this. I really can’t think of anyone else who could even rise to the challenge.
Someone with “no dog in this fight”.
It’s a sad and scary holiday season this year. I hope this is the last of the violence, but I won’t hold my breath.
Weirdness for this week: Sorry, even conducting a search that included Ripley’s Believe It or Not website, I got nothing. Either I am just not in the mood, or my tolerance for “strange” has increased.
Recommendation for the week is a series on Netflix called “Miss Fisher’s Mysteries.” It’s a continuing story about a female amateur detective in Australia, circa 1920. Nearly everyone in it has English accents, not Australian – which, for me, is a good thing because I find Australian accents nearly as grating as Arkansas ones. Anyway, it’s good for a look, even just for the costumes, sets, and vintage vehicles.
Be good. Be kind. Speak up and challenge people when they say ignorant, hateful things – no matter what their religion/political point of view is.