Monday, December 7, 2015

Reaction to San Bernadino Shooting is Revealing

The reaction to the mass shooting in San Bernadino, California, last week was almost as horrifying as the killing spree itself. I learned about the incident as was I was talking to a senior civil servant I have been working with recently and he immediately muttered something about, "right-wing gun nuts." This guy was, like most senior civil servants, an avowed leftie and it was obviously wishful thinking on his behalf because even at that stage the facts indicated that this was no run-of-the-mill (if one could use that expression in this context) mass killing. It was known there were at least three heavily armed offenders dressed in body armour and driving a large SUV, facts that suggested it was an organised, military-style attack. I responded by betting him it was Islamic terrorism and it gives me no pleasure to have been proven right in the days since the attack.

The comments of this civil servant were echoed throughout the left-wing media here and in the United States and the anti-gun lobby, including President Obama, jumped in with calls for stricter gun laws. Of course, calling for a ban on gun ownership in response to a case like this is about as pathetic as calling for aircraft to be banned in the wake of 9/11. Yesterday Obama changed tack and made a speech in which he conceded this attack really was terrorism.

The response of left-wing commentators and politicians to this incident says a lot about their moral ambivalence. In the leftist view, a mass killing by a right-wing nut job is bad, but a similar incident by a Muslim in the name of his faith is not so bad. We see this double standard all the time - it is bad for Israeli soliders to respond to rocket attacks on their cities by targeting Hamas strongholds in Gaza but okay for Obama to order drone strikes on civilian targets in Waziristan. In their view it is not the act itself or the degree of innocence of the victims that makes mass killing moral or immoral - it is the political views of the perpetrators.

We should not be surprised by this moral ambivalence because that is at the heart of the collectivist philosophy. The rights of the individual are subservient to the will of the majority and therefore the idea of any absolute human rights is alien to them. Even the right to life is relative - leftist lives are worthy, but right-wing nut jobs do not deserve to live.

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