ISIS Made Me Do It?

My thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and families of the massacre at Pulse, the Orlando night club.   The death toll was originally reported at 50 and 53 wounded, the highest in any mass shooting in US history.   The shooter claimed to do it for ISIS and there is some evidence to suggest that possibility.  I am not here to debate his motivations, but I am concerned about the ramifications that seem to occur when a horrible act like this is branded an ISIS terrorist attack by the press, law enforcement, and/or  opportunistic politicians.

The news cycle is greatly expanded by the press when ISIS is involved.  A local hate crime becomes an international headline that dominates the 24/7 news channels for weeks.  Add to  that, the fact that it is an election year and our favorite politician can renew(then backtrack) his call to ban Muslims from entering the US, suggest we begin surveillance against Muslim Americans in their place of worship, and bring back torture from the glory days of Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld.  The fact that the shooter was an American citizen born here, does not seem to matter.

It also masks the 400lb gorilla in the room:  should anyone – especially someone on the no fly list and the subject of a past FBI investigation – be able to legally purchase assault rifles and hand guns with no questions asked?  Attaching the four letter word, ISIS, also makes it easier for members of congress to spinelessly vote against any reasonable gun related bill designed to protect the public.

The worst consequence of the ISIS terror tag is the additional motivation it may provide for other sociopaths to commit these horrific acts.  The desire for fame or recognition is often a big motivating factor driving these individuals.  If claiming an act has been done by, for, or in the name of ISIS significantly raises its visibility, I am afraid more lone wolves will perpetrate these terrible crimes while exclaiming: “ISIS made me do it!”.



Charleston Tragedy Reignites Flag Debate

The tragic shooting in Charleston has already reignited the debate over the Confederate Flag.  I find it hard to believe that in 2015 – 150 years after the Civil War, some are still fighting to keep this flag flying over state capitols and other government building.  The flag today clearly stands for slavery and oppression to most Americans of all colors.  The flag- quite unjustly- has also become a symbol for various hate groups like the KKK and other white supremacists.

Proponents of the flag will tell us there were many reasons for the war and many ancestors died serving their country.  While this is true, does that justify its place at the state capitol flying over us?  The flag belongs in a museum and the display should include a narrative explaining its meaning – both the positive and negatives.

So what do you think?  Should the flag continue to fly?  Do you think it serves as a symbol for racist terrorists, like the shooter in Charleston, and somehow justifies and even incites the violence?