Saturday, August 22, 2015

the new normal?

So, the news this morning: three American marines, traveling in France, wound up taking down a would-be shooter on a train. From what little news I've seen, one of the Marines was wounded (I hope it is a minor wound and he recovered fully) and the terrorist was taken down, tied up, and is now in custody, from which I hope he is not released.

Apparently the train crew went and hid. (I will refrain from making a "French" joke here).

But I wonder, is this the new normal? Is this what we have to do now: because our governments lack the will to do anything to prevent would-be wrongdoers from coming into (or through, perhaps, in this case) our countries, we simply have to be prepared to take 'em down ourselves. Because our governments seem to refuse to recognize that there are those who hate us because we are not like them, and refuse to fight them there - we will have to fight them here.

Defense of the homeland - having a standing army and using them when necessary - is one of the legitimate roles of government. Working with our allies to reduce the threat that dangerous people in the world pose is one of the legitimate roles of government. However, our government seems to feel like they're more afraid of hurting the feelings of people around the world.

So as a result, American citizens will have to get used to being vigilant. They will have to be sure to have a "this is the direction I head if stuff goes really bad" plan in their head for places. Some of the stronger ones, like me, maybe will have to have a mentality of "This is what I can quickly grab and use as a weapon to at least slow the bad guys down so the kids and moms can maybe get out of the way when the shooting starts."

I think this perhaps dates back to September 11, 2001. Remember how the plane that went down in Pennsylvania was taken down by brave people who realized the terrorists who took it over were bent on doing great harm with it, so they decided to take charge of matters - of their own deaths, in fact - and get the plane to go down in an area where there was little chance of people on the ground being hurt.

I think a related issue is the fact that increasingly, teachers and others are being told that they are the "first line of defense" in a shooter situation. This past week, I did a little (very limited, and I think I need more) training in "how to barricade someone out of a classroom" and "how to confuse, try to hurt, and generally keep out a would be shooter." The unstated thing is, "You're not permitted to have a gun yourself, so improvise weapons as you can and also be prepared to die for your students."

Yeah. The new normal: our governments are unwilling to admit there are those who have declared war on us, so we are going to have to be a Home Guard, I think. And granted, a campus shooter is far more likely to be an unstable native-born white person who has some kind of nutso campaign against the particular campus, and preventing those kinds of things is difficult (though in some cases, perhaps, enforcing the gun laws already on the books might have helped. And certainly having an armed campus police large enough to respond quickly helps)

I don't know. It does seem that the "lone wolf" attacks, where the "lone wolf" is someone who ascribes a particular set of values (that would perhaps not be out of line with ISIS) seems to be increasing. I don't know what we do about ISIS, but "nothing" or "placating" isn't helping. As is not having good border control, so potentially a terrorist could sneak into the country - or even come across, pretending to be someone "just looking for work."

I really don't want my life to end in a shopping mall or a classroom or on a train because someone has decided that it would make their concept of God happy for them to kill a bunch of Americans, or a bunch of Christians, or whatever. But that may be it. If there are a bunch of little kids or someone else who can't defend themselves, and there's a Bad Guy who is clearly being a Bad Guy, I am grabbing a shelf support or a whiteboard or pretty much any heavy thing I can lift and try to slow them down, while also yelling at the weaker people to get the heck out. And I don't like having to think that way.

Good on those Marines. They did what Marines do, but they did it in a very different setting than they normally would. Unfortunately, there aren't enough Marines that we can have them everywhere.

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