At this point, we don’t know their names, but four U.S. Marines were shot to death today in Chattanooga, Tennessee. From a news report:
After the shooting, the Department of Homeland Security said in a statement that it was “enhancing the security posture at certain federal facilities, out of an abundance of caution.”
One of the pressing questions in the wake of this massacre is whether, out of an “abundance of caution,” the “security posture” of U.S. military installations will include the notion that these individuals who have volunteered to defend the nation, and on whom we depend to do so, will actually be permitted to carry firearms (because reports currently indicate that these murdered U.S. Marines were compelled by law to be defenseless).
The alleged shooter (now expired) has been named as Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez. Whenever there is a breaking news story like this one the facts tend to shift by the minute, but it’s awfully hard not to presume that this is yet another Ramadan observance (that holy month ends tomorrow, July 17th) by a devout Muslim who has heeded the call of the Islamic State caliphate. We have seen so many other such acts all across the world in the past several weeks.
The timing, and the location in the American south, also insist on certain other questions. With regard to the recent and dreadful massacre at a Bible study in Charleston, South Carolina, we previously opined here that it appeared to be an act of nihilism, rather than a resurgence of old fashioned white supremacism. Our opinion failed to impress the culture at large, and efforts to suppress displays of the Confederate flag have proceeded apace (up to and including the banning of “The Dukes of Hazzard” from the TV Land cable channel).
What is the difference between this act of mass murder and that one, and do the differences matter? Allowing that the facts are still breaking, I think that there are differences and that they do matter. One difference is in the health and vitality of the ideology. While the Charleston killer invoked white supremacism, that is a dead ideology which only someone who is himself dead inside could grasp onto in an effort to rationalize his hatred for everything. Islamism, by comparison, is an ideology that is thriving and advancing from the plains of Mesopotamia to the suburbs of Detroit. It is gaining ground and it is gaining believers, however much the enlightened elites of our Western world just shrug their shoulders at it.
Is it possible that alleged shooter Mohammod Youssef Abdulazeez was a hopeless ne’er-do-well who sought meaning for his suicide through the philosophy of the Islamic State? It’s possible, sure, but it is also necessary to face the fact that many of those who are sacrificing their lives for the same cause are very far from being hopeless losers. We have seen trained and qualified physicians in the West devoting themselves to jihad. Although it might appear to be a nihilistic philosophy (and Western politicians will label it so for the sake of convenience) it actually is not. These actions do not come from a lack of belief in anything; nor do they come from a generalized hatred of everything. Instead these actions grow out of a positive and energizing belief in something that is evil. This is why Islamic jihad continues to advance, and why it will continue to advance as long as belief in that evil thing remains sustainable.
It is not a small thing to become a United States Marine. It is a huge thing: a nearly incomprehensible thing for the average person, imprisoned as we are between our donuts and our smartphones. The individuals who have achieved this are in the most essential ways the very best of what our land can still produce; somehow, by the grace of God, they still show up for duty. Today, four U.S. Marines (unarmed, at it appears at this moment) were killed by what seems to have been a single armed believer in Islamic jihad. That is a very good trade off for ISIS: one of theirs for four of ours. Today they celebrate. They look forward to many more and even greater celebrations.
In response to this, is there any question but that the U.S. Marines could be deployed to wipe out the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria? Seriously speaking. Unrestrained by political considerations, and as little as the rest of us deserve their valor, the fact is that they would make very short work of the decadent thugs of 21st-century jihad. Short, but costly. Many Americans would die, but many more jihadists would die, and America would win. The U.S. Marines are better than ISIS. They are, in fact, on a whole other level. The only problem is that as Americans we apparently don’t want to win anymore. The political will is not there; the popular will is not there. So, instead, our Marines die, unarmed, on their bases in Chattanooga, Tennessee. And we sit and we wait for what happens next.
The questions raised by what happened today are far greater than any of the answers that are going to be forthcoming. It is a time to sing the blues if there ever was one.
(“Tennessee Blues” from the album Full Moon by Kris Kristofferson and featuring Rita Coolidge)