Do The Freakin Math

Liberals and conservatives alike frequently rely on limited evidence, personal experience, religious beliefs or gut emotions to determine solutions for complex problems. From immigration to global warming - taxes to terrorism - or health care to free trade - analytical study is rare. Science based policy making isn’t the way of Washington. And the consequences are catastrophic. Change is urgently needed. Just do the freakin’ math.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Paris Massacure was NOT a terrorist attack.



The massacre in Paris two weeks ago was not a terrorist attack.  According to conservative George Will it was an assassination.  It was certainly terrorizing for those who were murdered.  But terrorism is defined as a random act of violence intended to terrorize the general public.  This attack targeted specific individuals in direct retaliation for their freedom of expressing their views through provocative cartoons.  It was intended as vengeance and deterrence.  Not, to generally terrorize the public who refrain from such offenses.  Others who were murdered in the attack on Charlie Hebdo were essentially collateral damage.  Something we allow when waging war against a tactic (terrorism) and using drones to assassinate those we suspect of being a terrorist.  Our intention (much like the murderers in Paris) is to punish, pre-empt and/or deter future acts.  Unfortunately, both sides of these assassination campaigns have only invigorated the very acts they targeted to deter.

So the question is what to do in response to the attacks in Paris?  The French (like others in Europe and here in the US) have chosen to call this assassination an act of war worthy of amplified military action.  The very thing the murderers were hoping for. Us waging war ensures we will inadvertently murder more innocent people thus feeding into their narrative.  Warring against them also validates their perception of themselves as being warriors.  But, in fact, they are grossly ignorant sociopathic mass murderers.  

A less satisfying but more accurate, productive and civilized response to their mass murdering would be to view the assassinations as a crime -- a crime against humanity.  Giving them the title of murdering sociopathic criminals.  Criminals to be held accountable for mass murder.  Most importantly, ensuring there will be no additional harm to innocent lives in their apprehension or use of lethal force if they resist arrest.  This is the fundamental difference between law enforcement and waging war.  

A greater mistake we make is labeling these murderers Islamic terrorists.  What they did is not Islamic and certainly not condoned by the Qur'an.  Calling these murderers Islamic is like calling the Ku Klux Klan or Adolf Hitler Christian. Just because they believe what they are doing is prophet endorsed doesn’t mean that it is. 

There are several lessons to learn from this recent mass murder.

First, is that freedom without responsibility carries risks.  Sometimes lethal risks.  We are free to insult others. But it’s not wise. And while freedom of expression should never result in murder, it simply wouldn’t be wise to use the “N” word in mocking anyone of African descent in certain parts of certain cities in the US.  If this irresponsible speech resulted in a murder, war would not be waged.  Law would.

Second, waging war with its unintended consequence of collateral damage usually leads to more war.  Waging law enforcement has a much better chance of fostering peace.  That would mean any government, group or individual who murders would be held accountable.  Most rational people would agree that life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is the foundation of civil society.  Such fundamental human rights are natural and/or God given.  That means there can be no reason for justifiably taking an innocent life.  If life is really considered a blessing and a miracle then killing it should never be legalized.    And, any law that does not make all human life fundamentally equal is an unjust law unworthy of enforcement.  And only institutions that enforce just laws are legitimate and sustainable.  Thus, war should be outlawed, because it tolerates the murder of innocent people.

So the most important lesson may be making sure all individuals know this fundamental ideal is worth dying for.  But, not worth killing for.  Education regarding the value of protecting these fundamental rights is missing in our schools, our government and even our places of worship.  That is something we can change.  But only if we have the wisdom and the courage.

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