“Violence is an admission that one’s ideas and goals cannot prevail on their own merits.” Edward Kennedy
The celebration month of December began with the tragic incident in which fourteen innocent people died and 21 were injured by a couple in a mass shooting on San Bernardino at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, California: Authorities identified them as Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, and Tashfeen Malik, 27, who had been married for two years and had a six-month-old daughter. They had apparently been radicalized by a misguided ideology of violence. From the Oval Office, President Obama described the shooting as an act of terrorism, and the secret services are continuing the investigation of the shooting.
The incident occurred in the most unlikely of places, at a San Bernardino treatment center that treats patients with developmental disorders, where staff had gathered for a holiday celebration. The shooting, including at the Planned Parenthood Clinic in Colorado, has shocked mankind and the whole world: even hospitals are no longer safe.
These kinds of incidents should be treated as crimes against humanity; terrorists and their masterminds are against the idea of freedom; radicalized minds, no matter what ideology they follow, do not understand the foundations of free will – the autonomy of choice.
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ISIS is a Gestapo-style organization that believes in the ideology of violence and enslavement of people in concentration camps – whether they are people of their own faith or of another faith. It is a group of “assassins for hire” who make a lot of money by exploiting the name of faith and God: Violence is the first and last resort of those who cannot win their argument in a non-violent way.
There is an urgent need to examine the factors that contributed to the rise of ISIS – one of the reasons, for which Tony Blair, former British Prime Minister, has already apologized, was the invasion of Iraq in 2003. In an article in The Guardian from 2015, Nicholas Watts said Blair was to blame for “the use of misleading intelligence services and the lack of preparation for the aftermath of the invasion”. It is time to rethink American foreign policy, especially the policy of interventionism – invasion, regime change, and the bombing of civilians in countries in conflict.
“Mankind is a great, immense family. This is proved by what we feel in our hearts at Christmas.” Pope John XXIII
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The inhabitants and communities of San Bernardino came in large numbers to a candlelight vigil and showed solidarity with the victims and the deceased families. To share the grief and sorrow of the victims, “Muslims United for San Bernardino” launched a campaign to raise funds to support the families with their immediate needs; to date, they have raised more than $100,000; it is a record-breaking effort by American Muslims. The money will help the families of the victims with their most immediate needs.
“We condemn this horrific and revolting attack and offer our heartfelt condolences to the families and loved ones of all those killed or injured,” said Hussam Ayloush, Executive Director, CAIR-LA’s, a Muslim advocacy group. “The Muslim community stands shoulder to shoulder with our fellow Americans in repudiating any twisted mindset that would claim to justify such sickening acts of violence.”
Image Courtesy: MIKE BLAKE/REUTERS/Boston Globe
Prejudice, racism, and hate crimes find their strengths in this type of incident: Islamophobic attacks intensified after the shootings in San Bernardino, which is typical of such incidents. In response to the shootings in San Bernardino, Donald Trump, one of the trending candidates for the 2016 presidential elections, reacted in a racist manner and proposed a complete ban on Muslims entering the US.
The first casualty of such an attack is the erosion of privacy and civil liberties. At such a difficult time, Americans must be aware of and protect their civil liberties. Some political opportunists are always ready to take advantage of such situations to change constitutions and intervene in civil liberties.
People have chosen America because it stands for freedom, civil liberties, and open society – but these incidents are robbing Americans of the foundations of American values. America is known for its freedom, and it must maintain its founding principles despite sporadic incidents such as these; there must be no interference with civil liberties to make the country airtight and to prevent such attacks inland.
“The assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert F. Kennedy led directly to the passage of a historic law, the Gun Control Act of 1968.” Jeffrey Toobin
The New York Times editorial featured on the front page for the first time in its 95-year history, urging gun control laws to be tightened in the US: “It is a moral indignation and a national disgrace that civilians can legally buy weapons that are specifically designed to kill people with brutal speed and efficiency.”
Guns should be in the hands of those who want to protect human life and not take the precious lives of innocent people. After the last two incidents, it is more urgent than ever to rethink gun policy and bring it to a more controlled level.
Unfortunately, some of the media behaved irresponsibly and horribly, as Erik Wemple, a media critic for the Washington Post, said: “This was a story poorly suited to live coverage, without the time and ability to document a scene, determine what’s relevant and provide the filtered product to readers.” Entering the home of the victims was “ridiculous” and “heartless and competitive behavior,” criticized Al Tompkins of the Poynter Institute for Media Studies.
Journalistic ethics were ignored when it came to capturing TRPs: It was irresponsible, he said, to emphasize the perpetrators’ beliefs by showing pictures of the defendant’s relatives; instead, the media should focus on raising awareness of how to deal with such large-scale violence. Since the media are sensationalizing by presenting a system of belief, religion, community, and race as the epicenter of violence, they should play responsibly and act as a bridge between institutions and the public.
The world should unite against violence, whether in the name of ideology or to protect the lives of unborn babies, and treat it as a crime against humanity.
Let us come together, in the name of freedom of choice, not jingoism, fear, racism, and hate crimes, and let us make this world a non-violent place to live and enjoy.
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