Digby notes an interesting phenomenon: certain people get hysterical when there’s an attack that is labeled as terrorism (i.e. Charlie Hebdo). They want to declare war against international Islam and shred up the Constitution to protect us. Yet when there’s a school shooting (i.e. Sandy Hook) these same people get all cautious about a rush to judgment and very protective of civil liberties.
Why is that?
I can think of two reasons. First, to them any connection to Islam — even if it’s tenuous or done by a fringe splinter offshoot of some tiny faction — makes it The Gravest Threat to America. So the shooter could have dated a girl whose brother once bought a car from a guy who lived next door to a man named Mustaffah and all of a sudden he’s a jihadist. Or he could claim allegiance to a radical group that is says it is rooted in Islam but is made up of three other guys who are holed up in a studio apartment in Niwot, Colorado, and making meth on the side. It doesn’t matter; he’s a believer in Islam, therefore all Muslims are terrorists and they should be hunted down. By that logic, all Christians should be hunted down because David Koresh at Waco claimed to be a Christian.
A school shooter, however, goes in with a gun he bought at a gun show and gets his ammo over the internet. He shows up at a campus and slaughter ensues. But it happens in America and he has a copy of American Rifleman sitting on his coffee table when the CSI team shows up to gather evidence. Now he’s a lone wolf acting on his own using weapons he purchased legally, and while Wayne LaPierre says it’s a tragedy, there’s no reason to suggest that there’s any need to question his right to own thirty rifles, their barrels shined to a steely glow, and any attempt to prevent such future tragedies will destroy America’s dearly-won freedoms. Just because he — and it’s always a he — was a card-carrying member of the NRA doesn’t mean that all gun owners are capable of mowing down school kids at thirty bullets per second.
So if it’s wrong to demonize an entire community based on the actions of one person or small group of believers, why does that apply to the NRA but not to Islam? It shouldn’t, but then it’s a lot easier to demonize Other People than it is to piss off the base of a political party and the largest lobbying effort in Washington.
That’s the second reason. If elected officials weren’t terrorized by the NRA, we’d have Newt Gingrich and the rest of the Chicken Hawks on cable TV demanding that Congress do something about the guns, and if the NRA doesn’t like it, well, they’d have to realize, just as Pope Francis says, that there are limits to freedom.