Friends and EnemiesOpinion
By now, everyone has heard about the horrible tragedy in Orlando, where 49 innocent people were killed and more than 50 were wounded because of hate. As usual, fingers are being pointed in several directions as various groups either try to accurately reveal the cause of the massacre, or to further their particular agenda. As usual, most fingers are pointed in the wrong direction.
This is not a political column. I write political commentary for Texas Fish & Game magazine - here I do my best to entertain. But I can’t ignore this. There isn’t anything entertaining about people being murdered for ideological reasons, or any other reason. And no matter how we view this crime, hate was the root cause.
Abraham Lincoln once famously asked, “Have I not destroyed my enemy when I make him my friend?” Lincoln was a wise man. Still, about 260,000 Confederates died during the Civil War, almost 100,000 of them in combat. Making friends of enemies is difficult when they’re shooting at you.
This seems to be the problem America faces with ISIS. Making friends of those who hate us is a noble, admirable goal, but it seems impossible when everyone who tries it ends up dead. Not that we shouldn’t make the effort, but the distance we must maintain for safety is probably detrimental to our success. That and the hate.
The sad thing about the finger pointers is that so many of them are pointed away from ISIS, causing us to become more divided at a time when we most need to unite to effectively face this threat to not only our lives, but our way of life. ISIS doesn’t just want to kill free people; it wants to wipe out freedom completely.
This is what has me confused about the whole blame game. Groups that constantly denounce such behavior have been accused of causing it. The NRA is one such group, even though no one associated with the NRA was there. If an NRA member had been there, the death toll might have been far lower, provided he or she had broken the law in order to be equipped to protect others. The shooting took place where guns were not permitted, so no one who obeys laws was there to help, as usual. Gun free zones are target-rich environments for those who hate.
Christians were also blamed, even though no Christian ever attacks innocent people. Yes, you can bring up examples, like the Crusades from 800 years ago, if you like, but although those people called themselves Christians, they weren’t. I could call myself a bear and live in the woods, but that wouldn’t make me a bear. People who kill others because they disagree with their life choices are not followers of Christ, no matter what they might claim.
Some even blamed God, saying the killings were somehow retribution for the lifestyles of the victims. That claim is so insane I don’t even know how to address it. It’s twisted and sick and not worthy of debate. It comes from the same pool of hate that caused the attack.
The Orlando shooting was a heinous, evil act of hatred, and although it was the worst such event to date, it won’t be the last. These attacks will continue because it’s almost impossible to stamp out hate. You can, however, prepare to defend yourself and others from it. Some are offering help with that.
Buckeye Firearms Assoc. is one group that is lately offering free firearm self defense classes for the public in the wake of the Orlando massacre. They’re making a special effort to include members of the LGBT community, and there are rumors that others are doing the same, which is a good thing since gun sales are skyrocketing, especially among that particular demographic.
But the threat is not confined to any one group. Everyone who opposes loss of freedom is targeted. We’re involved in a war we didn’t ask for, don’t want, and can’t avoid. Those who started it call it Jihad, holy war, as if war could be holy. You can deny this war exists, but that won’t make you any less a target. Your choice is whether to fight when the war comes to you, or, like the victims in Orlando, face it empty-handed. And die.
The ISIS attackers don’t much care, either way. They’re eager to die in their cause, so shouting, “Stop or I’ll shoot!” won’t have much affect. And the British equivalent, “Stop or I’ll shout stop again!” is pretty much a waste of breath. The only way to win the battle, if it comes, is to shut down the threat before you’re killed, preferably before anyone else is killed.
The only way to win the war, on the other hand, is to defeat the hate. The only way to do that would be to convert ISIS followers away from their political ideology masquerading as a religion. That would be ideal, but it’s a long game, and there will be plenty more murderous attacks of hate before that happens. How you deal with them is up to you, if you find yourself facing these Jihadists.
Abe, of course, would counsel turning an enemy into a friend, but that option evidently wasn’t open to him in dealing with the Confederates, and it doesn’t seem to be open to us at this point.
In all, 620,000 Americans died during the Civil War. I hope that many don’t have to die before the current war is over . . .
Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist and public speaker who is a direct descendant of John Singleton Mosby, the Grey Ghost of the Confederacy. Write to him at [email protected].