Orlando shooting reaction has the feel of eternal recurrence

The New York Daily News blamed the attacks on the National Rifle Association. The only references to “jihad” on its front page were not to a self-proclaimed jihadist but to past cheap shots the newspaper has taken at the NRA. Left-wing pundits flipped on the autopilot and tried to make this slaughter about guns and homophobia (based on the testimony of the killer’s father, an apparent Taliban supporter no doubt eager for a different storyline).

Meanwhile, many on the right — not to mention a Republican presidential candidate — immediately turned an atrocity into an argument for a ban on Muslim immigration. Such a ban would not have stopped a killer born and raised in the United States, but it would surely encourage more potential “lone wolves” to believe that America regards Islam itself as the enemy. Indeed, banning Muslims as if they were all part of an undifferentiated blob of terrorists just happens to echo the Islamic State’s propaganda.

“There are only two armies, two camps, two trenches,” Muslims and everyone else, the Islamists proclaimed in a recent communique.

But the GOP’s instant analysts didn’t limit themselves to relatively new ideas, like a ban. Donald Trump surrogate and possible running mate Newt Gingrich seized the moment to call for a return of the House Un-American Activities Committee, launched during the 1930s. See, it’s not just Democrats who want to go back to the Roosevelt years.

At least Gingrich was pointing to the real problem. As Obama demonstrated in his remarks, too many elites in this country reflexively try to make Islamic terrorism America’s fault. Whether the culprit is American imperialism, guns, Guantanamo Bay or, this week, homophobia, we instantly race to comfortable excuses and comfortable arguments. The true nature and scope of the challenge is too unpleasant to contemplate, and so we return to our scripts and read our lines until the next slaughter provides an opportunity to read them all over again.

It’s enough to make you want, as Nietzsche imagined, to “throw yourself down and gnash your teeth and curse the demon who spoke thus.”

(C) 2016 TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, LLC

Tribune Content Agency — June 14, 2016

Jonah Goldberg of the Los Angeles Times.
Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a senior editor of National Review. Goldberg, author of best-seller “Liberal Fascism,” has quickly become the country’s prominent voice for a new generation of conservatives. You can write to him by e-mail at goldbergcolumn@gmail.com, or via Twitter @JonahNRO.

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