I look at three news stories and see utter madness in our midst -- xenophobic alarm that the next terrorist attack on the U.S might come from some ISIS thug who poses as a Syrian refugee; the closing of Washington College on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, apparently out of concern that an American student might bring a gun to campus; and the continued homicides of our citizens, most of them from gunfire, in Baltimore.
Stoked by fear-mongering politicians and pundits on the right, a lot of Americans look at Paris and are suddenly acutely concerned that some crazy jihadist from the Middle East might slip into the U.S. disguised as a refugee and carry out a mass shooting.
Of course, the same politicians and pundits sound no such alarm over the rash of mass shootings that already have taken place in this country. In fact, National Rifle Association leaders and their Republican lackeys in Congress always go on television or talk-radio to warn against overreaction to mass shootings. They dismiss calls for stricter regulation of the most destructive, rapid-fire guns as reactionary and emotional -- not based on reason and common sense.
And, of course, while Baltimore police struggle to arrest the number of killings taking place in this city, the deaths of Baltimoreans from gun violence provoke no discernible concern among the same politicians who took to the national airwaves this week to call for closing the borders to evil-doers from the Middle East. They apparently consider homicide to be a local issue, nothing of any consequence to the nation generally and certainly not a matter of national urgency.
Meanwhile, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan has joined the list of governors, most of them his Republican brothers, who say they either want a pause in the resettling of Syrian refugees here or want to close the door to them altogether. This is a reaction to Paris and the ISIS threat. But it also provides an opportunity to slam the Obama administration for being soft on immigration. It’s a cheap and easy way for the Republican Party to reclaim its status as the party that will best protect Americans from outsider evil.
Of course, some of the states with the just-say-no governors have had home-grown mass killings already -- South Carolina, Texas, Arizona, Wisconsin, for instance -- but I don’t remember hearing any official response that approaches the almost hysterical one we’ve heard this week.
From this, I conclude that Republican politicians, and a good number of weak-kneed Democrats, seem far more concerned with foreign terrorists than they are with those in our midst.
Public reaction to mass killings in the U.S. follows a predictable path: Anguished calls for more gun regulation, counter calls to maintain the status quo, and all of that followed by funerals and tears of relatives and friends of the victims. Then everything gets quiet again. Rarely do mass killings lead to action that might spare the country more of them. It’s truly as if we have come to settle for a certain level of violence, as if the killings of people by bullets -- en masse or one at a time, as on the streets of Baltimore -- is just a part of life that we should accept, a price for living in the land of the free and the home of the brave. Same with the evacuation of a college campus. It’s just part of American life now, folks. Get used to it.
I certainly do hope that federal authorities have a strict vetting process for Syrian refugees. If an ISIS cell were to form in this country, its members would have little trouble getting the firepower needed to cause even more death and mayhem than we already have.