Good morning #America. As we wake up to news of yet another terrorist attack in our world, I am flooded with many thoughts and emotions. First and foremost, my thoughts are with the victims of the #Mali attacks. I am pleased to see wide media coverage of these attacks, just as there was in #Paris, #Beirut, #Mumbai, #Kenya, #Baghdad, #Madrid, and many others. I was deeply disturbed every time I saw one of those 'WheresTheOutrage' posts or hashtags this past week. (And not just for the absence of an apostrophe) What people fail to realize about the media is that it is ever-changing and constantly covering the 'most shocking events' of any given moment. Many people and organizations recognized ALL of the attacks mentioned, and were horrified about them.
So WheresTheOutrage? This morning, while walking the dogs, I contemplated what might be different to Americans or the Western media between a terrorist attack in #WestAfrica and one in Paris, the heart of #Europe… Which is actually quite a bit different than my thought process behind what might be different between a terrorist attack in Beirut and one in Paris.
For better or for worse, I think I can explain why these events affect people differently, and why flags are painted on #Facebook profile pictures for Paris, but maybe not for some other countries or causes. First of all, France is one of the oldest allies of the #USA. They built and sent us the freakin' Statue of Liberty as a gift for god sake; the very symbol of our country's freedom, and ironically, a symbol of accepting refugees. (More on that later) So when something goes down in Paris, in the middle of #Europe, we tend to feel it very deeply. And no, not because those people look #white. It's because their society is similar to ours, and many of us, including myself, have close friends and family who live there. We as Americans visit Paris on a regular basis. I repeat, absolutely none of this has to do with the color of skin. When the #bombings in #Kenya happened, they were so awful, so shocking, and the hearts of the world were with the victims. So was the #media coverage, despite what you might have read in your Facebook feeds last week. It was indeed well covered internationally at the time. While I often point out how little darker colored people are valued in society compared to lighter colored people, this really is not a factor in what I have been discussing here.
So, I am guilty, as are many of us. But of what? I never changed my Facebook picture to show a Kenyan flag, a Lebanese flag, and I most likely will not change it to show a Mali flag. But it is not for lack of love and support. What is unfolding there this morning is horrifying, just like similar attacks in Mumbai several years ago. I have a couple of friends who just barely escaped those. However, #terrorism is terrorism, whether it is for an Islamic Jihadist cause, an anger cause, or a #Christian fundamentalist cause.
In the case of #Lebanon, Beirut used to be called the 'Paris of the #MiddleEast', a wonderful vacation spot. Lebanon and #Iran were beautiful countries with freer, more moderate governments. These were places we used to visit regularly and they were spectacular cultures with wonderful peaceful people. I love many Lebanese people, and I love Lebanese food. I also love Persian or Iranian food and many of their people who have made it out and made it to the United States are friends of mine. I don't differentiate between them and any other Americans. But in Lebanon, there also exists a faction of society and of government that would seek to annihilate everyone of my people, no different than Hitler would. #Hezbollah. While I do care deeply for the victims of the bombings there, I admittedly am guilty perhaps of viewing that event a little less sympathetically than the events in Europe. We all have some sort of bias, and as liberal as I am, I have this little thing about militant groups that try to wipe my people off the face of the planet.
Moving on, the outright lunacy, #xenophobia, and #bigotry being leveled against #Muslims and the fear of taking in #SyrianRefugees in this country by #conservatives (some claiming to be Christians) makes me sick and embarrassed. We should all be ashamed. If we are truly afraid of terrorism within our own borders, start by dismantling the #NRA and getting rid of private ownership of #handguns. They kill children, women, and men in shocking terror attacks on our own soil every single day. The numbers of refugees inside the borders of the USA, including every single non-native American that is alive, is staggering. And yet, we have very little terrorist activity. The Islamaphobic percentage of '20% radical Muslims' being tossed around by anti-Muslim bigots with a microphone like Brigitte Gabriel is nothing more than hateful conservative right-wing rhetoric and propaganda. The real number is far less than 1% and even still, the vetting process for refugees is stronger than that for any other citizen coming into America. As my friend Bob rightly pointed out yesterday, any terrorist (including the Paris attackers who were not on our watch list) could get on an airplane any day of the week and get to America very easily. While on the other hand, #refugees would have to wait 18 to 24 months and in fact not even get to choose their destination. Oh, and unlike pretty much every other person who enters our country, they are rigorously and vetted by multiple intelligence agencies and immigration. So the hatred and paranoia of the right-wing is not welcome in America. You guys look and act FAR MORE like ISIS and Sha’ria law than the ISIS and Sha’ria law that you claim to fear.
Which brings me back to something far more personal in my heart and mind. #WheresTheOutrage for the DAILY terrorist attacks in the United States of America. If conservatives actually cared about terrorism as they say, they would immediately institute stringent federal gun laws, mandatory background checks with long waiting periods, remove any and all loopholes, have a massive gun buyback, and start from scratch with guns. In civilized countries, people don't have them because the laws are so strict and they are intelligent to know they don't need them. They don't walk around constantly in fear, paranoid that danger lurks around every corner. They live much longer, happier, and healthier lives. But if you want to talk about terrorism, 31,000 Americans die every year at the hands of guns. Most of those people did not want to be shot. Except the suicides. However, those suicides are way too easy to carry out given the simplicity of obtaining a gun in the United States and many suicides would likely not have succeeded by other means or could have been stopped in time to save those poor souls.
As has been pointed out numerous times this week, there will be the equivalent of a Paris or a Mali attack in the United States of America today by 'licensed' Americans armed with handguns. This point is completely relevant. #WheresTheOutrage when they kill 20 of your children in classrooms? #WheresTheOutrage when an 8 year old murders a 5 year old? #WheresTheOutrage when a white-supramacist kid sits in a black church for an hour then murders everyone who welcomed him into their prayer group? #WheresTheOutrage when large groups of hateful white Christian open-carry proponents gather around a Mosque full of peaceful families praying... carrying signs saying "Death to Muslims". Imagine that scene in reverse!!! #WheresTheOutrage when a white-supramacist Christian fundamentalist walks into a Jewish daycare and kills 5 children? Or #WheresTheOutrage when someone with a similar profile shoots up a Jewish Community Center? In that case, all the victims were Christian as the JCCs, like the YMCAs in the USA accept people of all religions, colors, and backgrounds. They provide a service to the community. #WheresTheOutrage when it is proven over and over again that unlike the JCC and YMCA, guns in the hands of private citizens and their cheerleader, the #NRA, provide no such service to our society, no safety to your homes, no safety for single women, and no safety to your families. #WheresTheOutrage
Today my thoughts will be with the victims of Mali, but by the end of the day (barring more international attacks) and when I go to sleep at night, my thoughts always shift back to the victims of terror in my own country. Approximately 92 of them each day. May their souls find peace, and may we as a country wake up to our insane hypocrisy.