Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Two Attacks on Americans

Yesterday there were two attacks on Americans on American soil that dominated the discussion, at least online in the email groups. One, of course, the assassination of 67 year old Dr. Tiller as he was handing out bulletins at his church in Kansas on Sunday, the second was the attack on a Navy recruiting station by a man who covnverted to Islam that killed two sailors and injured another. Two killers - one white, one black and both looking to be part of networks that urged them on to do what they did.

We don't know for sure about the networks - the terrorist doctor murderer looks to have been at least surrounded by people who thought killing a doctor who, among his other duties as an ob/gyn, did abortions was a good thing. The Navy attacker was being watched by the FBI on his return from Yemen, where he had been arrested. We don't know for sure if either of them were directed or even given the suggestion to do what they did by others but the possibility is there and strong.

Before anyone goes ballistic on my use of terms here (terrorist for the doctor killer, attacker for the Navy recruiter murderer), I suggest whoever that might be go to and look up the word "terrorism." It basically defines the term as violent attacks on civilians for political aims. Dr. Tiller matches that criteria, members of the United States Navy who are members of the US military do not. 9/11 was a terrorist act, the bombing of the USS Cole was an attack on a military target - both were attacks on Americans.

I'm not going to rehash the arguments about both here - they are more than available across the web. The real question is where do we go from here.

What's going to happen to prevent either or both of those attacks?

Unfortunately, not much.

The Obama administration will send out US Marshalls to protect healthcare providers and clinics but they won't be there forever. The anti-abortion extremist Christians will still call for attacks on "abortion doctors" and as long as they aren't directly involved in those attacks, they get to do that here under the First Amendment. It's been said that freedom of speech protections were put into the Constitution not to make it safe for speech we like - it was put in to protect speech we hate. The good news here is if the government can't outlaw speech we don't like, we have the option of using our right to free speech to condemn and shout the haters down.

In the case of the attack on the Navy recruiting station, I think that was a matter of time before that happened. Not because of what the Navy is - it is because of how easy it is to get the explosives, guns and ammo to commit such an act. Muslim extremists will still preach hatred against us and urge attacks on us regardless here and around the world.

We can discuss the motives and beliefs of both attackers, but the bottom line is that they were done by two guys with guns.

As a country, we can keep an eye on these people and hope we catch them before they act. We can speak out to see to it that the beliefs that ended in three deaths aren't given a free ride and are roundly denounced. Otherwise, we hope that works and wait for the next time it happens. Damn it.

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