Preventing Another Chattanooga

In the wake of the horrific attack that took the lives of 5 US service members last week at a military installation in Tennessee, we collectively empathize with the families of the victims. We cannot possibly imagine the utter anguish they must be going through in trying to make sense of the senseless. Making matters worse, the political convulsions that invariably follow such an event publicize a deeply personal tragedy and disrupt the grieving process.

On the left, more gun restrictions are the answer, despite the fact that this was a “gun free zone” and the little sign on the door stating so was apparently defective. On the right, more guns are the answer. While I happen to agree with that, mainly because a military installation without guns is like a swimming pool without water, it doesn’t address the root of the problem.

First, the shooter. The authorities will spend countless man hours and resources to determine if Mohammed Youssef Abdulazeez was radicalized or just depressed. Was he a nefarious terrorist that coordinated his plans with others in order to wage jihad against the Great Satan? Or was he a bored loser seeking order and meaning in his bland, middle class, suburban life? Perhaps the narcissism cultivated by a decadent western culture did not mix well with the rigid piety and certitude of radical Islam, a microcosm of Samuel Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations, and he felt that while he had a foot in both worlds, he was part of neither. It matters not, because no amount of psycho-babble justifies these murders.

The fact remains that as a nation, we are trying to protect ourselves from religious extremists who use Islam to justify their violence. While most Muslims are not terrorists, statistically since 9/11, most terrorists have been Muslim. And since religion tends to be the primary identifiable characteristic of most people from countries in the Middle East, it is how they group themselves, and is the basis of their sense of community, it would behoove us to re-examine the criteria by which we allow people to come to America.

This folds into a larger strategy. First, we must not just acknowledge, but accept, that there is no such thing as 100% security. Trying to achieve it is not only a fool’s errand, but will end with us bankrupting ourselves, just as Bin Laden planned. Anyone who promises 100% security (at the price of liberty, to boot) is either lying or an imbecile. No, the best we can achieve is to mitigate risk like an insurance company. We reform our immigration system and we play the odds. Canada uses a points system, why can’t we? Are you coming from India? Switzerland? Ghana? Japan? Your visa is $100, enjoy your stay, please invent the new whiz-bang gadget and keep our economy humming. Are you coming from Yemen? Saudi? Any place where Islam is the dominant religion or a significant portion of the population are its adherents? Your visa is $100,000, please enjoy our freedom of speech, but try to keep the cries of “Death to America” to a minimum.

On cue, here’s where I get accused of racism and discrimination. Well, first off, Islam isn’t a race. Discrimination? Ok, then how is this different from what every insurance company out there does? Why isn’t a 17-year-old boy that buys a cherry red corvette charged the same rate as a 60-year-old woman that buys the same car? Because statistically, the 17 year old boy is more likely to wrap it around a tree than granny.

Further, having spent a decade traipsing through the Middle East I can tell you that the Arabs I’ve met have no qualms discriminating when it comes to security and laugh at the West for our over-sensitivity to the feelings of others. Go to any western hotel in the region. A car full of Americans, regardless of the ethnicity of the passengers, is waved right past the checkpoint. A car full of Arabs is given the full rubber glove treatment by their own countrymen manning the post.

You see, when you live in a place where violent death is a daily occurrence, you learn to dispense with such snobbish pomposity because it can get you killed. Thank a veteran for providing an environment here in America that affords you the luxury of sensitivity. But we would be wise as a people not to hinder ourselves in this fight in the name of hurt feelings. Bottom line, you subscribe to that PC nonsense if you want to, see how it’s working out for Europe. In my opinion, better to be rude and alive than polite and dead.