15 August 2012
Amoklauf (or terrorism?) thwarted in Washington
Just because a security guard did his job doesn't mean we should take a failed amoklauf at the headquarters of the Family Research Center in Washington D.C. any less seriously than the incidents in which people are actually shot. In this case, the guard alone was wounded, yet managed to take down the intruder -- by tackling him -- before he could unload on more people. In the latest suspect we would seem finally to have a shooter who can't be tagged instantly as a Muslim or a right-winger. From early reports, he seems to have had some statement to make about the Chick-Fil-A controversy, since promotional materials for the restaurant chain were found on his person. In any event, his choice of target -- the FRC is a leading "family values" think tank and lobby -- should mark him as some sort of leftist if he doesn't prove a more idiosyncratic lunatic. His target was a political one, his motivation presumably political -- though why he didn't take up his beef with Chick-Fil-A is a mystery unless geography made doing so prohibitive. Is this preliminary amateur profile holds up, the thwarted amoklaufer will stand as proof, for whoever really needs it, that American violence is not the exclusive realm of the right wing or the religious fanatics. That would have been obvious to any observer 40-50 years ago, when groups like the Black Panthers were the ones pressing for easier access to guns. Such demands may well have started a cycle that resulted in the rise of the National Rifle Association as tribunes for Americans determined to protect themselves from armed leftists and/or armed minorities. The pacifist turn of the American left since the 1970s may be more difficult to explain, but it's probably only a matter of time before the cycle is complete and more leftists feel entitled to shoot and kill in "defense" of self or something else. Whether we'll then see unexpected people demanding greater regulation of guns makes for a good guessing game, for now.