I didn't think I'd be writing about a second mass shooting this week, but here we are. Again. And again. And again.
Yes, I know there's no reason to believe the world is any more violent today than it was at any other point in history. Up until last year, at least, shootings had actually been on the decline.
Still, it sure feels like we're talking about another one of these attacks every few days, and whether it's better or worse now than it's been before, it's a horrific problem all the same. It just keeps happening, and it never stops. And we can't expect it to, not as long as there is sin and evil in the world. And especially Islamic terrorism.
Political Correctness Is Killing Us
This particular mass terrorist killing was brought to us by a young couple, Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik, who staged a brutal, sophisticated assault on an office Christmas party in Southern California. They slaughtered 14 people, injured many others and died in a shootout with the cops a few blocks from the scene.
Of course, they were both Muslim.
Farook had recently traveled to Saudi Arabia and returned with a wife he met online. He's been described as "very religious." Yet, for hours, liberals in the media still pretended they didn't know if this was terrorism or not. Before the identities of the killers were revealed, CNN danced awkwardly around the inevitable. I watched last night as Anderson Cooper desperately reminded his viewers again and again that this isn't necessarily, uh, "international terrorism." One of his guests told him that it could be the work of American citizens inspired by ideologies from "overseas." Cooper agreed, but stressed that it could be domestic terrorists with domestic motivations. They were so terrified to even say the word "Muslim" or "Islam" that the conversation quickly descended into drooling incoherence.
Many outlets speculated that the incident was sparked by an argument Farook had with a coworker at the party. Because it's apparently feasible that someone might — totally on the spur of the moment, mind you — grab rifles and explosives, strap on body armor, recruit an accomplice and engage in a swift coordinated attack before escaping in a black SUV as the cops arrive. Sure.
While the media feigned confusion as to the motives and religious convictions of the killers, the rest of the country knew they were Muslim without even hearing their names. Two or more heavily armed assailants attacking a soft target with high powered weaponry, tactical gear and explosives? Muslims. Terrorism. Definitely. It's not racist to make that assumption. It's rational. I'd love to be proven wrong sometime, but that's up to the Muslim community. Stop killing people and then I can stop noticing that you kill people. Very simple formula, folks.
But this is where political correctness leads. In fact it's even worse. In this case, political correctness may have just indirectly killed 14 people. Reports are now surfacing that people in the neighborhood noticed suspicious activity in the weeks leading up the attack but chose not to call the police because they didn't want to be guilty of "racial profiling."
SWAT officers enter an area where suspects were believed to be after the shooting at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, California, Wednesday. (Getty Images/Sean M. Haffey)
The media will not focus on this point, to put it lightly. They will gloss right over it. But make no mistake, this is a devastating, damning, outrageous detail. It ought to be getting its own headlines. It ought to be the subject of severe scrutiny and debate. Someone — or perhaps multiple people, that's unclear right now — saw a group of strange Middle Eastern men engaged in suspicious activity in the neighborhood and didn't say anything because it wouldn't be politically correct.
No doubt, the witnesses felt guilty. Surely they wouldn't have thought it suspicious if they saw a group of white teenage girls or middle aged white men or elderly Chinese women. They were suspicious of these men primarily because of who they were, not what they were doing, and that made them feel dirty inside. Our culture had convinced them that these incredibly logical and reasonable suspicions were rooted in some kind of underlying racism, so they ignored it and moved on. And then...
Here's the reality: There's really no reason to be suspicious of groups of white teenage girls or middle aged white men or elderly Chinese women, because they aren't the ones carrying out terrorist attacks. Now, sure, if you know a kooky, disheveled, white guy who lives by himself in the woods, abuses animals, hides in the bushes to spy on women, and babbles about his conspiracy theories, then you ought to be suspicious of him, too. Disturbed, lone white guys kill people, but they don't generally come together in groups to plot out an elaborate siege on a local office complex. Muslims do that. That's almost exclusively a Muslim thing.
Likewise, if you're walking down the street alone at night and you see a young black guy coming toward you, it's rational to be more wary than you'd be if he was a young white lady (although, these days, I guess he could be both). Blacks are only 13 percent of the population but they commit a vastly disproportionate number of homicides and other violent crimes. That's the reality. You can diagnose the statistics however you want and come up with any number of reasons to explain them, but the facts are the facts. You're more likely to be killed or mugged in the street by a black person than by any other kind of person.
But, again, our PC culture would tell you not to take these realities into account. You should be no more hesitant to jog through west Baltimore in the middle of the night than you'd be to take a stroll in the suburbs. You should feel just as comfortable around a black kid in a hoodie as you feel around a white kid in khaki shorts and sandals. You should be no more concerned about boarding a plane with a man in a turban than you are about boarding a plane with an old white dude in a trucker hat. That's the way this is supposed to work.
If you're "politically correct" nowadays, it doesn't mean you're polite or considerate or kind, it means you're delusional, cowed and intellectually dishonest. That's why I cringe when conservatives defend, say, Donald Trump mocking a disabled person on the grounds that he's being "politically incorrect." No, that's not politically incorrect. It's just incorrect. Mocking the disabled makes you an idiot, not a warrior against the PC police.
The PC police aren't concerned with making sure we are decent or civil. They aren't trying to force us to accept standards of etiquette. They're trying to force us to accept falsehoods. Whatever it used to mean, "politically correct" now simply means "untrue." Or "foolish. Or "reckless." And especially "dangerous."
PC culture has already come under scrutiny and endured quite a bit of glorious mockery in recent months. With the role it played in protecting the terrorists, it ought to finally die a much deserved death. We cannot afford to be politically correct anymore. Now is a time to be honest with ourselves and each other.
Yes, God Can Fix This
As soon as the news broke about the attack, liberals began heaping scorn on Christians who pray. It tells you a lot about our society that rather than provoking prayer, tragedies now provoke prayer-shaming. As terrified victims huddled in closets and behind locked doors, texting and calling their families and pleading for prayer, the response from many of the vile, godless heathens in this country was clear: "F*** your prayers."
The New York Daily News emblazoned the words "God Isn't Fixing This" across its cover Thursday morning, taunting God, and openly mocking conservatives who offered their prayers for the victims last night. Among the folks on the left, there appeared to be a consensus that asking for God's help is not only silly but detrimental. Instead of praying, they said, we should "do something."
Image source: New York Daily News
Obviously, this is a ridiculous false dichotomy. One can pray and also "do things." For the especially coordinated, it's even possible to pray while doing things. Indeed, prayer is meant to be an ongoing, constant, persistent conversation with God. Perhaps part of the problem is that many of us talk about prayer only when bad things happen, and even then, while we "offer our prayers" on Twitter, how many stop to actually pray? How many Christians were on bended knee last night, crying out to God to send His mercy, comfort and justice upon this nation?
How many of us "pray without ceasing" on a daily basis (1 Thessalonians 5:17)? How many of us "continue steadfastly in prayer" (Colossians 4:2)? How many of us rise early in the morning and pray, just as Jesus did (Mark 1:35)?
I don't know the numbers, but I do not believe we are a very prayerful culture as a whole, despite the fact that a wide majority of us profess a belief in God. Maybe if all who believed in God acted and prayed as if they did, things wouldn't be quite so bad in this country.
I don't expect to convince atheists of the power of prayer. First, they have to accept that God is real and present, and that's not a discussion I'm going to try to shoehorn into this post. But for those of us who already believe, we should not place limits on what prayer can achieve. Psalms tells us that when the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears them. Christ teaches that if we ask, it will be given (Luke 11:9). It might not be given in the way we anticipated or on a timeline that we prefer, but nonetheless God hears and answers all prayer.
I doubt there are many words mentioned more frequently in the Bible than "pray." It's one of the most basic and fundamental lessons God communicates to us through Scripture: Pray. Pray. Pray.
Prayerful people are blessed in more ways than one. Aside from receiving an answer to their specific prayer (and not every prayer should be a request — we should also pray in thanksgiving, in joy, in frustration, in anger, in sadness, in whatever state and for whatever purpose), the prayerful person grows in faith and obedience and humility. A person who prays sincerely every day, throughout the day, as not just a habit but a lifestyle, is a person who is not likely to struggle as much with arrogance or pride as the rest of us. When we pray, we humble ourselves before the Lord and remember our place in the universe: as the Shepherd's sheep, the Master's servants.
Prayer works. I believe it works. And if we were a prayerful people, we would be a better people, and if we were a better people, we'd be a better nation. Yes, I even believe mass shootings could be prevented if we prayed for God's protection every day. That doesn't mean every attack will automatically be thwarted. It doesn't mean every shooting will be halted. It doesn't mean every bad thing will be avoided. It certainly doesn't mean that those who are killed in attacks failed to pray enough. For all I know, the victims of yesterday's shooting were extraordinarily prayerful people. And even if they weren't, that doesn't mean God set out to punish them for their lack of prayers.
All I mean is that, according to God's will, prayer can protect us. God can fix this. In fact, God already "fixed it" when He sent His Son to die for our sins and bring salvation to the world. He provided the ultimate solution, which is available to all who seek it. And when He comes again, He will "wipe away every tear," and there will be no more death or pain (Revelation 21:4), and everything will be fixed for good.
In the meantime, before Christ returns with the final "fix," it is not silly or useless to pray that God address our problems, large or small, and shield ourselves and our families from the terrible atrocities in the world. It doesn't mean He will fix each thing just exactly as we imagine, or that we will be shielded and protected from every atrocity or misfortune just exactly as we requested — prayer is not a magic wand and God is not a genie conjured from a lamp — but our prayers are meaningful and fruitful still. Just because they did not bear the sort of fruit we anticipated in our finite, mortal imaginations, doesn't mean they bore no fruit at all.
It's important to remember that God provided the solution, which is Christ, but it is up to us to choose Him and walk the path He forged for us. Acts of evil and violence occur when people reject Him — reject the solution — and stray from the path. God has granted us the power to choose, but He does not create these evils or force anyone to perform them. He has given the fix, but many have turned it down, and as long as that happens, terrible things will also happen.
This is another good reason to pray. And, sure, we should "do things," too. Although there's not much the average person can physically do to stop attacks and terrorism. We can buy a gun. We can protect ourselves. We can be vigilant. We can raise our kids right so they don't end up predators. And we can pray. As average citizens, these are really our only options, and we should avail ourselves of all of them.
Buy a gun, raise your kids, live responsibly and say your prayers. Hand everything else over to God. That's my plan.
It might not be foolproof, but it's all I've got. And I know that if we did all of these things, the world wouldn't become perfect, but it just might become a little better and a little safer.
It's worth a try, isn't it?
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