16 December 2014

Another school shooting

It was in Pakistan this time and was more or less a military operation -- a revenge attack by the Taliban. One report says there were nine gunmen, in which case the reported body count of 141 victims suggests that these hardcore jihadists were less effective, having less victims per person, than the little creep who shot up the Newtown grade school two years ago. There's probably more similarity in motive behind the two incidents than we might assume. Taliban spokesmen have said that they wanted Pakistani military families, whose children were in the Peshawar school, to "feel the pain." As far as the Taliban were concerned, this was a fair reprisal for the killing of "our families and females" by the Pakistanis. But revenge, arguably, is simply spite with a sense of drama, and spite certainly drives the angry individuals who go on amoklaufs in America, not to mention the knife-wielding Chinese farmers who've made schoolchildren a special target in recent years. As news of the Peshawar atrocity follows the fatal hostage-taking in Sydney, the prospect of more "lone wolf" attacks around the world shadows the holiday season. A great fear in the U.S. is that a convergence long-dreaded will occur as our homegrown misfits take inspiration, justification or some sad sense of belonging from the appeal of the "Islamic State" or other Islamic extremists. In some cases around the world, Islamic extremism inflames people with authentic or at least arguable grievances, but the IS's propaganda of the deed no doubt inflames many more people whose grievances are far less obvious to most of us.  Either way, a point comes when they can't share the world with some people, perhaps because they think they haven't gotten their fair share, perhaps because they think they haven't gotten any share. Whether everyone can share the world is still open to debate, but the debate can't be abandoned, even if it offends those who won't share it and like things as they are -- or were.

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