Thursday, December 3, 2015

San Bernardino

At 6 am on Thursday morning, the 3rd of December, this is what I have discovered about the mass shooting in San Bernardino, California. Two of the gunmen, a man and a woman, have very Arab-sounding names. The man made a trip to Saudi Arabia a while back where he purchased and brought back to the United States his mail-order wife who on this day was his accomplice. The couple had a young child who they dropped off with family on the morning of the attack, explaining that they had a doctors appointment. The man then went to a holiday party with his colleagues at the Inland Regional Center, where he left in a huff after some sort of argument with a co-worker. He returned with his wife/girlfriend some time later dressed in masks and dark tactical gear, brandishing AK-47 style rifles ( apparently purchased legally) and the two of them began indiscriminately murdering people in cold blood. By the time they were through, fourteen people had perished and another seventeen were wounded. Four hours later they were killed in a shootout with police.

That must have been one hell of an argument!

At this point, nobody knows whether these two were prompted to murderous fury by international terroristic inclinations, radical Islamist sensibilities, simple workplace rage, or just some garden variety pathological mental disorder. To the fourteen dead, it matters not. To the rest of us it matters a great deal. Of those possibilities, we all would most prefer a terrorist narrative, since it would offer some sort of rationale for such brutal killing. "Oh, they were jihadists. That explains it!" Nobody wants to hear that they were just whack jobs who decided to premeditate the slaughter of fourteen co-workers because they got passed over for a promotion. As human beings, we insist on at least vaguely plausible explanations for murderous rages like this one, because without one, it becomes hard to resist hopeless despair.

In a nation as polarized as ours, every horrific mass shooting is transformed into a cudgel with which one side can beat the other side over the head with. If the killer ends up being a fundamentalist, conservative Christian, liberals have a field day. If the killer ends up being somebody named Abdul Muhammad, conservatives have a field day. I, for one, am relieved that these killers didn't turn out to be a couple of Christian Syrian refugees, since that would have sent both sides into cosmic fits of unhinged rage from which the Republic might never have recovered.

For the record, I would like to point out a few things that seem to me to be completely reasonable positions for a reasonably informed and intelligent person to take on some of the most devicive issues of the day. I list them here because too often the noise of partisanship drowns them out:

1. It is possible to fully support the second amendment and support reasonable gun control measures.
2. It is possible to fully support our policemen and want dirty cops thrown in jail.
3. It is possible to be fully pro-life and detest anyone who would shoot up a Planned Parenthood.
4. It is possible to fully support legal immigration and be against open borders.
5. It is possible to love the environment and be opposed to an out of control, power-grabbing EPA.
6. It is possible to fully support a government provided safety net for the most vulnerable people in our society and be opposed to what the modern welfare state has become.
7. It is possible to support a strong, robust, national defense and be against sending American troops to every war-torn hell hole on the planet out of some savior/world policeman complex.

Ok, so there you have it...the mushy middle ground where nobody in this country wants to be, but where everything of value ultimately gets done.