WASHINGTON, May 12, 2015 – On May 3, 2015, two men claiming affiliation to ISIS attempted to attack a convention holding an awards ceremony for the best carton depiction of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad. Their attack was cut short by a single Garland, Texas, traffic police officer who bravely faced down the two men outside the convention. Why the two militants decided to attack a convention center in Texas is beyond the comprehension of most people.
ISIS, of course, has claimed responsibility for the attack, but it is probably more akin to something like Quentin Tarantino attaching his name to a movie he “produced” rather than actually “producing” the movie. The odds are that these men were ISIS sympathizers who wanted to open up their own franchise in a state with one of the highest gun ownership rates in the country. In the words of Ron White, “if you kill someone in Texas, we will kill you back.”
That being said, the attack raises a number of questions and concerns, but to many, that curiosity and apprehension are not aimed at ISIS, but at the government and our own people.
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Our nation, when faced with outside threats, has a history of restricting the rights of individuals in the name of security and counter-terrorism. In WWII we sent Japanese, Italian and German Americans to “summer camp,” only this summer camp did not end with you making life-long friends after roasting s’mores over a campfire.
After the Sept. 11 attacks we loudly proclaimed that the terrorists hate us because of our freedom and the liberties we enjoy. And so to fight terrorism, the government took away some of our freedom and the liberties we enjoy by creating the Department of Homeland Security and passing the Patriot Act, because that’ll show those terrorists who is free.
Now we are faced with the possibility of more terror attacks, despite the fact that the first one ISIS claimed responsibility for was stopped by a traffic cop with a pistol. Both their training and decision-making processes need to be revaluated after that one. But with that possibility comes the opportunity for the government to seize on the American fear of a wave of gunmen terrorizing the country. This kind of turmoil and this kind of uncertainty are a clear danger to American civil liberties.
The reaction to the Garland attack was easy to predict, as are the next few months. First, people blamed the guns; how could those men get those assault rifles? Of course story after story ran on CNN and NBC about how the attackers had “assault rifles” and the cop had a Glock .45. Many have already raised the cry that, if they could not have purchased those weapons, those terrible machine guns (which they were not), then they would never have attacked the convention. However, they should be reminded that some of the strictest gun laws in Europe did not stop the terrorists from acquiring actual assault rifles (select fire or fully automatic) in the ISIS attack in Paris in January. Moms Demand Action, unsurprisingly, has called for a nation-wide gun control push, believing that fewer guns means less crime.
None of this is surprising. In fact, if these things did not happen, it would be quite shocking.
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However, what was most galling about the Garland attack was the victim-blaming. Cry after cry of “Well, maybe they should not be so offensive” and “What were they thinking anyway?” have permeated the coverage of this event. Liberal pundit after pundit decries the insult to all of Islam and slams the organizers of the convention for inviting terrorism; some even went so far as to suggest that the convention was held deliberately to provoke violence. Essentially, those people who decry the idea, and rightfully so, that a woman is “asking for it” when she dresses provocatively are the same ones who are blaming the convention for provoking the violence. This is victim-shaming at its worst. You were asking for ISIS sympathizers to attack you, Garland, and so this is kind of your fault.
Over the next few months your resolve as an American will be tested. The news media and the government will try to scare you into believing that the next ISIS attack is right around the corner. Politicians, sensing the shifting political winds like vultures gliding through the air, will begin proposing legislation from the state to federal level to enact further gun control, and perhaps even trying to classify defaming Muhammad as hate speech. The media will seek out tweets of ISIS leaders and display them on their 24-hour cycles, ramping up fear of another attack. And when a section of the Patriot Act comes up for renewal on June 1 of this year, too many Americans will still be too scared to argue.
This will be a turning point, ladies and gentlemen. With elections coming up, and with Supreme Court justices set to retire in the next few years, this is the turning point. You either listen to statistics and reason, which suggests that the likelihood of your being killed by a terrorist in the U.S. is astoundingly low and that the government is using fear to continually erode your rights, or you continue to do nothing, and the muscle with which you flex your liberty atrophies.
Let us hope that I am wrong.
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