Yet another mass shooting is in the news. The latest one occurred in San Bernardino, California: 14 innocent people were slaughtered, 21 injured. The perpetrators were a married couple, one an American of Pakistani descent, the other a Pakistani-born resident of the United States. Both, apparently, had pledged allegiance to ISIL or ISIS.
President Obama has declared their terrible actions an act of terrorism; there is no question about it! The question remaining is: What will we, as a nation, do to fight the terrorism that has infiltrated and continues to infiltrate our homeland?
The perpetrators of the San Bernardino killings shared, along with the merciless executioners in the Paris massacre, the perverse “mission” pursued by ISIL, al Qaeda, and other terrorist organizations motivated by radical Islamic ideologies. So did the Chattanooga shooter and the Memphian murderer at a Little Rock military recruiting center. So did the bombers at the Boston Marathon and dozens of other sites, including the jet hijackers who murdered 3,000 Americans and injured thousands more at the World Trade Center in 2001.
No doubt, many of the 10,000 Syrian refugees President Obama wants to bring into the U.S. are not believers in radical Islamic ideologies. However, while America certainly wants to continue as a refuge for the “homeless and tempest-tossed,” shouldn’t we pay close attention to the fact that ISIS has publicly announced it plans to infiltrate the West by sending in operatives posing as Syrian refugees?
Wouldn’t we be wise, as we “lift the lamp beside the golden door,” to look more carefully than ever at those wishing to enter our country, opening the door only when we are as confident as possible they will do us no harm? Yes, this could be a long process, but the stakes are extremely high. It is literally a matter of life and death for fellow Americans.
The need for increased caution is, strangely, not apparent to everyone. For example, an editorial letter writer recently opined that an entire group should not be tarred by the atrocities of a tiny percentage. Another editorialist the following day joined in: “But in the end, if I am going to make a mistake, I would rather make the mistake of helping people who would hurt me instead of hurting those who need my help.”
As emotionally appealing as both of these assertions seem, they call for closer scrutiny. The first editorial contributor I mentioned asserted that only “.00006625 percent of the Muslim population were extremists.” Sounds like a small number until you consider that there are over 1.5 billion Muslims. Remember, a billion is a number with nine zeros.
As a result, even the tiny fraction our editorial correspondent mentioned nets the equivalent of over six army divisions of Muslim extremists. However, let’s reduce the number even further; let’s assume that half are too old, too young, medically unable, or otherwise not available to wage their war of terror.
We are still left with the equivalent of over three divisions of Muslim extremists! As an analogy, think of a combination of the 10th Mountain, 82nd Airborne, and the 101st Airmobile divisions. All three divisions may not yet be in our country and in other Western countries—but they are doing everything they can to get in. Our countries are the battlegrounds on which they want to “fight.”
You think this is a number too small to be concerned about? Remember what just 19 Muslim extremists did on 9/11 or what fewer than a dozen did in Paris last month—or two did in San Bernardino a few days ago.
So what about those whose sentiment is: “I would rather make the mistake of helping people who would hurt me instead of hurting those who need my help?” Hmm…The first thing to note is that he wants to make the decision even for those who may not feel as he does—but who work in the same towers, travel in the same airplanes, run in the same races, and go to the same holiday parties he does.
Here’s another analogy. Suppose you and your family are passengers in a van preparing to leave a parking lot. The driver spots an inebriated patron coming unsteadily out of a bar that shares the parking lot and says, “That person needs my help with a ride home.” He then slides over so the bar patron can get under the wheel, and he hands the drunk the keys.
At this point, perhaps you and your family would like to exit the car. When you discover your door can be opened only from the outside, you object that the former driver’s plan is a potentially dangerous mistake. However, he says to you: “I would rather make the mistake of helping people who would hurt me instead of hurting those who need my help.”
Would this sentiment convince you and your family to remain in the van? Or, if you can’t exit, would your inclination be to take the keys out of the drunkard’s hands, in order to protect yourself and your family?
Misunderstood statistics and sentimental platitudes have not stopped, and will never deter, fanatical Jihadists from murdering innocent Americans in our own homeland. Rather, clear-eyed and sober actions to protect ourselves, based on observation, experience, and prudence are what is necessary. It’s up to us. Ours is a government of the people, by the people, and for the people…if we insist on it.
John D. Ragan, an Oak Ridge Republican, is a state representative from Tennessee’s District 33, which includes most of Anderson County.
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