The Suffering of the Victims
Every day people are killed. Shot, stabbed, or beaten to death. Sometimes one, or several people, kill a large group of seemingly random people. These are horrible events. All of them result in people whose lives are untimely brought to an end. The victims died for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
People consider events like this to be extra horrific for three reasons. The severity of the body-count; the apparent randomness; and the fact that it is purely due to the evil deeds of another person. This makes it different from a regular murder, or a plane crash. The only thing required to prevent such needless slaughter is for the perpetrator to come to his senses before committing the deed.
Mass killings such as this, can be more or less divided into two categories. There are the mentally deranged and there are the terrorists.
The Mentally Deranged
School shootings acquired notoriety since the school shooting in Columbine, 1999. Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed 13 people and committed suicide. Since then, school shooting have happened frequently. The major incidents include Virginia Tech, where Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 people and committed suicide in 2007, as well as Sandy Hook in 2014 where Adam Lanza killed 27 people and committed suicide.
Most recently, only a few days ago on Valentines day 2018, another school shooting took place in Florida. Nikolas Cruz killed 17 and police took him into custody.
Closely related to these cases, and treated in a similar way, are cases of lone gunmen ‘gone mad’. An example is the Las Vegas shooting in 2017. Stephen Paddock killed 58 and committed suicide in his hotel room. Another example in the same year is the Texas Church shooting, where Kelley killed 27 people.
Usually these cases are followed by a call for restrictions on gun ownership, which happened after Columbine and further background checks were added after Virginia Tech. Newspapers, news channels and talk show hosts; they will all raise the topic. Every time it is highlighted that lives would have been saved if the perpetrator did not have access to the gun.
The Tsarnaevs were responsible for the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013, leaving 5 dead and nearly 300 wounded. The next year, Ali Muhammad Brown killed 4 people in several attacks; inspired Islamic terrorism. In 2015 two gunmen related to the Islamic State opened fire on an anti-Islamic convention in Texas – the only casualties ended up being the gunmen themselves. Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez killed 5 in Tennessee in the same year. Again in 2015, Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik kill 14 in California, both are killed as they attempted to flee.
The next year, in 2016, the biggest attack takes place when Omar Mateen kills 49 in a Florida gay nightclub. Later on in the same year Ahmad Khan Rahimi causes several explosions in New York, injuring 34. Abdul Razak Ali Artan attempts to kill people with a vehicle in Ohio, yet only injures 13. Sayfullo Saipov is responsible for the 2017 attack, where he drove into a crowd with a truck in New York. He killed 8.
Most of the names above showed affiliation towards either Al-Qaeda or the Islamic State.
The terrorists have fewer victims than the mentally deranged, as long as we exclude 2001. At the same time, the group of Americans susceptible to become aggressive and go on a killing spree, is much larger than the relatively small amount of Muslims in the United States that are susceptible to becoming radicalized and thereby attempt to start a massacre.
Now, let us be clear; all of these killings are horrible, sad and tragic. Yet, what is interesting is the overall response to them.
Any time there is a deranged mental person with a gun, calls are made to ban all guns. If only we had banned guns before, then these people would still be alive. Likely the media will show images of injured people crying, or faces of the victims that have passed away. There is a strong emotional appeal in the talkshows and those that defend the second amendment, the right to own a gun, are blamed for being responsible for the deaths of the innocents that have lost their lives.
The calls are very different when it involves Islamic terrorism. We are reminded that the majority of Muslims does not support this. We are reminded that relatively few people die due to terrorism, compared to car accidents, or smoking. When people claim this is a reason to close the borders, they are told not to use the incident for their political agenda. Simultaneously, there is no outcry of how if we had only closed the borders before, these people could have lived. The opposite takes place, if you call for stronger border security you are branded a racist that takes advantage of the shooting to promote your own political agenda. There is no emotional appeal to the victims, to those that suffered. There is an appeal to stay strong together, and to not let it change the way we live our lives.
While fear is promoted any time there is a deranged mental case of a gunman, fear is shut down when it involves Islamic terrorism. The media and polite society has a strong double standard when it comes to their responses to these incidents.
The victims have died tragically. The incidents become a part of the national history. Yes, we should be able to talk about what we can do to prevent these happenings, but we should be able to do so with decency and common sense. Moreover, we should be able to talk about how to prevent these incidents whoever the perpetrator is. We should not simply point at the other side of the political spectrum to assign blame, that helps none. It only offends the victims.
Right now, the left feels relieved when the killer is a deranged mental case, so they may call for gun restrictions. The right feels relieved when the killer is a terrorist, so they may call for closed borders and blame Islam.
In the end, all this proves is a polarization of public debate. Every event is linked to one side of the political spectrum and embraced by them. The right side will share the photos of the victims of Bataclan in Paris, the left will share the photos of the victims of Dylan Roof. Just look at the websites the photos are published on. Dailymail for the terrorist victims, versus Huffington Post for the mentally deranged victims. All these media outlets use these events as it fits their own agenda.
A society divided to such an extent, where every tragedy belongs to a side, has no chance to survive. Democracy cannot work when two sides are diabolically opposed. The responses to these attacks only show the divergence in the United States. Furthermore, we can witness the exact same trend within Europe. More so, since these American incidents are also broadcast and discussed in Europe itself.
Polarization to such an extent, cannot end well.