Opinion | Morgan Liddick: Obama fails to target the existential threat | SummitDaily.com

Opinion | Morgan Liddick: Obama fails to target the existential threat

Around 11 a.m. last Wednesday, Sayed Rizwan Farook and Tashveen Malik burst into a “holiday party” where Farook worked and opened fire, killing 14 and wounding 21. Both wore tactical gear and were armed with semi-automatic rifles and handguns. After their killing spree, they calmly drove away. A few hours later, their rented SUV was spotted; after a police pursuit during which shots were exchanged, they died in a hail of gunfire.

San Bernardino’s chief of police speculated they were en route to perpetrate another massacre when intercepted and killed. The couple had “thousands of rounds” of ammunition in the car and at home, where police found a cache of pipe bombs, detonators and bomb-making material. A federal official involved in the investigation noted that Farook was “in touch with a small number of suspected extremists,” including one under surveillance as a terror suspect. Malik pledged allegiance online to ISIS before the attack. The couple received at least some training, funds and possibly other support prior to their murderous rampage.

Considering all this, President Obama and Hillary Clinton agreed: guns are to blame.

This loopy self-deception is not only difficult to understand, it is dangerous to the Republic and its citizens. Those practicing it in the interest of scoring cheap political points should be called to account and thrown out of public life. Forever. The guns weren’t responsible. It was the people using them. Their motives. Their actions. Their sociopathy. Their homicidal rage.

Absent firearms, fanatics of this sort will use pressure cookers, as did the Tsarnayev brothers. IEDs, as did the recent Beirut bombers, who killed forty – or those who downed the Russian Metrojet in October, killing 224. Knives, as in London last Sunday. Hatchets, like Muslim convert Zale Thompson last year in New York. Firearms are just the most convenient tool, and not necessarily the deadliest.

It’s also misleading to draw parallels to domestic sociopaths like Robert Dear or Dylann Roof. Although these, too, are driven by twisted ideologies, they do not belong to a movement with global reach, national territory, sophisticated political philosophy shared by a large and growing population and considerable abilities in tactical and strategic planning. Dear and Roof are the unfortunate flotsam of a society in crisis; ISIS is an existential threat to the West and all who trust in it and its values. See Paris, Nov. 13, 2015.

Was this event Islamic terrorism? Apparently so. In addition to Farook’s unspecified “contacts” and his wife’s pledge, there is his curious behavior over the past two years. After travelling to Saudi Arabia, that famous source of young women of marriageable age, he returned to the US with a fiancée. He became more dedicated at his mosque, often praying there twice daily. Family members noted that he “grew out his beard,” leaving unsaid that, from some photos, he appears to sport the same distinctive cut as the assistant Imam of his mosque — one which indicates ultraconservative attitudes: an outer marker of mental state one often sees on the streets of Riyadh or Peshawar.

The couple began to collect tools of mass murder, especially large amounts of ammunition, bomb-making supplies and items, which could be readily converted to that purpose. They acquired tactical clothing, possibly including body armor. Which, unless California has adopted the Klingon definition of “business casual,” should have raised a red flag the size of Alaska. But no one turned a hair.

More disturbing was one answer to the ubiquitous question after such catastrophes: “Why did no one notice what was happening?” Because at least one person did. A neighbor said she was suspicious of the constant visitations and packages, the work until all hours, the general bustle of Farook’s home. But she remained silent out of concern of being labelled a racist and “engaging in profiling.” If her account is true and not just regret at her silence, 35 people paid the price of her fear of censorship by the politically correct. This should be a glass of ice water in the face for us all.

Note to those who won’t utter the words “Islamic extremism” for fear of giving offense: Sayed Farook and Tashveen Malik identified themselves as devout Muslims. How many more deaths are required before we take such people at their word, admit there is a civil war for the soul of the Islamic world and realize we have a stake in its outcome? That stake is evident in Boston, Paris, Beirut, San Bernardino and elsewhere.

Finally, anger may have determined the target: A co-worker says that Farook had a violent argument with one victim about the peaceful nature of Islam. Note to potential Jihadists: “Islam is a religion of peace. If you disagree, I’ll kill you” is improper argument. And self-contradictory.

As if that matters anymore.

Morgan Liddick writes a weekly column for the Summit Daily.

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