By now you’ve heard about the massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando. The killer was a Muslim named Omar Mir Seddique Mateen, from a family of Afghan immigrants. As I write, 50 people have died (including the jihadi himself). The count will almost certainly rise, as many are gravely wounded.
Nobody should be surprised by this, and it’s hard for me to think of anything to say that shouldn’t already be obvious. The obvious is now taboo in the West, however, and so I will say a few obvious things:
Many are scurrying to make this a gun-control issue. It is not. Americans have owned guns — lots of guns — throughout the nation’s history, and gun laws were formerly far more lax than they are now. I grew up in rural western New Jersey. Everyone had guns, generally completely unsecured, yet somehow we didn’t slaughter each other. Even today, Vermont, which has almost no gun laws at all, has one of the lowest gun-homicide rates in the nation. Homicide rates have fallen for decades, even as millions and millions of guns have been added to the nation’s private collections. Subtract the gun-homicide rates among urban blacks and Hispanics, and the U.S. gun-homicide rate drops to European levels.
Moreover, the shooting in Orlando, like so many other spree killings, happened in a place where guns are already illegal. Would-be mass shooters know that when they target a “gun-free zone” they will be able to run up the body count before they are stopped. The Pulse nightclub — like Virginia Tech, or that Colorado theater — was one of these soft targets.
In a post about a year ago, I wrote this:
…as someone who has spent his adult life troubleshooting complex systems, I can say this with confidence: unless and until you understand what really causes a problem, you will never reliably fix it.
If you see a system beginning to fail, you must ask yourself: what has changed? If you are asking this about the state of Western society, and particularly American culture, one thing should be very clear: it is not access to guns.
When you alter a formerly organic and mostly homogeneous society by introducing large, and largely unassimilable, alien populations with wholly incompatible ideologies, folkways, biases, religions, axioms, customs, and tribal affinities, the effects will be disharmony, loss of social cohesion, erosion of public trust, faction, disintegration of civil society, and conflict. When one of those populations is Islamic, that conflict will almost certainly include violence and terrorism. Duh.
Am I wrong? Am I being mean to Islam? Thought experiment: Imagine what the world would be like if Islam simply did not exist. Imagine Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Afghanistan. Imagine Europe. Imagine Lower Manhattan. Imagine London, Brussels, Paris, Marseille. Imagine this page not existing. Imagine your airport. Imagine your daily paper. Imagine the Pulse nightclub.
Too unrealistic? OK, then: at the very least, imagine what the West might have been like without a half-century of mass Muslim immigration. Imagine Islam in Islamic countries, and Westerners in Western countries. We had that choice, and we blew it.
Taboo, taboo. I really shouldn’t be saying these things!
OK, I will say this, then: how many conflicting ideas can you hold in your head at once? Here is a tricky triad. See if you can make it all hang together:
1) Our society should celebrate, and encourage, sexual diversity in all its forms of expression.
2) Our society should celebrate, and encourage, multicultural diversity in all its forms of expression.
3) Our society should celebrate, and encourage, peace and harmony and happiness.
Like I said: tricky! This will be on the final. Don’t forget to show your work.