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Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Unhelpfully Familiar Responses to the Orlando Shooting

Unhelpfully Familiar Responses to the Orlando Shooting

by Paul R. Pillar
Here we go again. Another terrorist incident, and another iteration of the depressingly familiar suite of responses we hear each time in the subsequent surge of rhetoric and commentary. Much of what we hear is what careful consideration of the circumstances and evidence associated with many of these incidents would show to be wrong.
And this is even without including most of the politically driven reactions that have become common amid the partisanship of contemporary America and that one ought to be able to see through without the need of careful consideration. There are, for example, the fatuous criticisms of leaders for not uttering the term “Islamic terrorism”—criticisms made with no indication that the leaders being criticized don’t fully understand the nature of the terrorism at hand, no hint of any constructive policy implications flowing from this bit of semantics, and no sense of responsibility regarding the damage caused by leaders uttering such phrases. There is, as with any mass shooting incident, the obligatory fealty to the gun lobby and expression of opposition to gun control. (Is a darkened, crowded night club dance floor—amid loud music, strobe lights, and booze—one of those places where, if everyone were armed, supposedly everyone would be safer?) And in what could be called a new low for Donald Trump if we had not already had to use the term new low so many times in referring to his utterances, Trump suggested that President Obama was somehow connected to the Orlando shooting, saying that the president has “something else in mind … there’s something going on.”

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