The deadly attack on the Colorado Springs clinic has prompted a wide-range of analysis. Will the same range of opinion emerge from the San Bernardino bloodbath?
Writing in Slate, William Saletan notes, that Robert Lewis Dear is only the most recent of several male, white, Christian terrorists from North Carolina. His argument is often ironic, but earnestly concludes:
This week’s carnage in Colorado brings the death toll from North Carolinian terrorists, including Eric Rudolph, to eight. That’s just one shy of the nine people murdered in Charleston. Throw in the work of a few lesser miscreants, and you’re looking at roughly 20 casualties inflicted by Carolina extremists. That doesn’t make the Christian states of North and South Carolina anywhere near as dangerous as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. But it does make you wonder why, as we close our doors to refugees who have done us no harm, we pay so little attention to our enemies within.
David French writing in The National Review dismisses such comparisons, claiming it merely.
… tempt[s] Americans to take their eyes off the real threat to our security — a rapidly growing mass movement that is wholly and completely dedicated to violence. Our real worry shouldn’t be an alienated teenager with a Confederate flag or an angry hermit who hates the government. It should be the fully mobilized jihadist armies controlling nation-sized chunks of territory, the entire governments dedicated to the spread of jihad and seeking nuclear weapons, and their tens of millions of supporters and sympathizers.
Wednesday’s Washington Post featured an apparently uncoordinated presentation of alternative views by columnists Ruth Marcus and Kathleen Parker.
Marcus wrote, “…if initial reports of alleged gunman Robert Lewis Dear Jr.’s comments about “no more baby parts” prove true — and logic suggests that it was no mere coincidence the attack was at a Planned Parenthood clinic — Republican politicians who fueled the overwrought and unsupported controversy over selling baby parts bear some measure of responsibility.”
Parker, seemed to respond, but I perceive each were writing independently, ”
… as abhorrent as we find the shooter’s actions, we should tread carefully in assigning broader blame. One man may have heard fiery rhetoric and decided to kill people, but 320 million other Americans went about their day as usual. The rationale we seek for mass killings may ultimately be elusive because a variety of variables are usually in play. In time, perhaps the suspect will provide answers, which we can parse in search of helpful insights. So far, he’s been unhelpful. Saying “no more baby parts” may suggest a motive, but it is also nonsensical. There will be more baby parts as long as there are abortions. By his comment alone, one suspects that Dear is mentally incompetent, drunk, on drugs, off his meds or all of the above.
A provisional observation — perhaps a mere impression — entirely susceptible to empirical refutation: But in recently reading a bunch of analyses regarding Mr. Dear’s background, Dylan Roof (Charleston church shooter), Timothy McVeigh (Murrah Federal Building), James Holmes (Aurora movie theater), the Charlie Hebdo assailants and the perpetrators of the most recent Paris attacks… I seem to notice that whatever else the writer does, s/he makes a strong argument that the murderer/terrorist/some-other-designation is entirely unlike him or her.
I see the same pattern in the early profiles already emerging on Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik after the San Bernardino massacre.
It causes me to consider how our problem-diagnosis might be more productive if, instead, we started by asking, “How does this person remind me of myself?”
Je suis qui? Who am I?