Thursday, July 16, 2015

Dead Marines in Chattanooga, Living with Change

Maybe you've seen the headlines:

(From AP, via BBC News, used w/o permission.)
("Police were deployed on the Amnicola Highway near the US Navy reserve centre in Chattanooga"
(BBC News))
"Chattanooga shootings: Four Marines killed at Tennessee US Navy centres"
BBC News (July 16, 2015)

"Four US Marines have been killed after shootings at two US Navy buildings in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

"The local district lawyer said the two incidents were being investigated as an 'act of domestic terrorism'.

"Chattanooga city police said it was the same gunman at both locations and confirmed he had been killed.

"The gunman was identified as 24-year-old Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez by an unnamed official, according to the AP news agency.

"He is believed to have been born in Kuwait, but it is unclear whether he was a US or Kuwaiti citizen.

"Reports said armed police have been deployed to the house where he lived, a few miles outside Chattanooga in Hixson, and neighbours were being evacuated.

"FBI agent Ed Reinhold, who is leading the investigation, said the first shooting occurred at about 10:45 local time (14:45 GMT) at a US Navy recruitment centre in the east of the city.

"After opening fire on the building, the gunman then fled the scene in a Ford Mustang and was pursued by Chattanooga police, Mr Reinhold told reporters.

"He was shot dead after a gunfight at a US Navy reserve centre about seven miles (10 km) away on Amnicola Highway...."
This isn't, I'm quite certain, a major milestone in world history. Ten thousand years from now, I'd be surprised if more than a few antiquarians knew that Chattanooga even existed: or Tennessee, for that matter.

On the other hand, five folks are now dead: that is significant, at least for their families and friends. That is a personal tragedy for those involved, and may deserve the international news coverage it is getting.

Since the victims were serving in the United States armed forces, and the killer's name, Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez, identifies him with an ethnic group that's had its share of terrorism-related deaths and killings — the district attorney may be right. This does look like "domestic terrorism."

The killer's motives may be hard to figure out, since he's dead: and my guess is that we're not looking at part of a coordinated attack on the United States.

For all I know, this might be a simple holdup gone horribly wrong. It's remotely possible that Mr. Abdulazeez mistook the Marine recruiting office for a convenience store, and panicked when he discovered that there was no cash register to pilfer.

No, I don't think that's the case.

My guess is that Mr. Abdulazeez decided that America was a threat to his faith, that God wanted him to kill Marines, or something equally daft.

If that's true, it does not, in my considered opinion, prove that all Muslims hate Americans, or that America threatens Islam, or that Marines should be killed. It does, I think, show that individuals can do very bad things for daft reasons. (A Catholic Citizen in America, June 21, 2015)

Drunk Driving, Names, a Yearbook, and the Irish

(From BBC News, used w/o permission.)
(Location of Chattanooga, Tennessee)

We're learning more about the killer. Apparently Mr. Abdulazeez had been arrested for drunk driving, earlier this year. That was in Chattanooga, too: and may not have much of anything to do with today's killings.

It looks like Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez was born somewhere in the Middle East. He's 24 years old. A local newspaper said that someone with his name graduated from a local high school and left a message in a school yearbook: "My name causes national security alerts. What does yours do?" (BBC News)

I'm slightly sympathetic toward folks who feel that they're unfairly suspected of crimes. I've used my Irish ancestry as an example of America's occasionally-grudging tolerance of non-English, non-Protestant Americans.

I figure that we'll eventually get used to the idea that folks from Latin America and the Middle East are no more — or less — of a threat than the Irish. By then, tightly-wound Americans will probably be upset about folks arriving from some other part of the world.

At least, I hope so.

Me? I'll be concerned if folks stop wanting to come to America. From my viewpoint, we can always use folks with fresh ideas, enthusiasm, and a new set of customs. Of course, I'm almost half-Irish: and that's where I started this tangent.

The President, Celebrities, Experts, and All That

It's about two hours after I started writing this. The family's eaten our evening meal, and I see that America's president made the usual 'this is a bad thing' statement.

There's news that the killer lived in Hixson, a few miles from Chattanooga, that police raided the house,and "an AP reporter said two women were led away in handcuffs." (BBC News)

That sounds reasonable, although I don't know what it means. Being "led away" by police simply means what the words say. I've been "led away" and searched by police — for good reason — but I've never been a threat to American lives.

I'd say "never been a threat to national security:" but since I don't think whoever is president at the moment is always right — or wrong, question the Supreme Court's infallibility, and don't vote a straight party ticket: some folks might see me as a loose cannon.

If this follows the usual pattern, over the next 24 to 48 hours we'll read about assorted other national and state leaders saying pretty much what the president did. Celebrities will make more-or-less-regrettable statements, and the usual gaggle of "experts" will weigh in on how this attack proves that they're smarter than anyone else.

I'll grant that I've got my own opinions about what happened.

I'm reasonably sure that local, state, and federal law enforcement folks are sorting through evidence and statements: and will eventually learn what happened. They may even discover why these killings started. I don't have blind faith in any of the agencies or people involved: but I don't automatically assume that they're plotting against me, either. That's why I'm inclined to believe this:
"FBI Statement on Shootings at Military Facilities in Chattanooga, Tennessee"
FBI National Press Office, Washington, D.C. (July 16, 2015)

"The FBI's Knoxville Field Office, along with the Chattanooga Police Department and other law enforcement partners, are working jointly to investigate today’s shootings at a military recruitment center and a reserve center in Chattanooga, Tennessee in which four individuals were killed and three injured. The shooter, Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez, 24, is also deceased. While it would be premature to speculate on the motives of the shooter at this time, we will conduct a thorough investigation of this tragedy and provide updates as they are available."

It's a Big World

Predictably, there's the usual rumor that ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham) planned the killings, or knew about them before they happened. That may be true, or not. Right now, I don't know.

It's likely that Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez's motives were at least partly religious, ethnic, or patriotic. That doesn't prove that religion kills, or that everybody who's not a Norwegian-Irish-Scots-American like me is a threat to blue-eyed people, or that nations shouldn't exist.

When someone goes off the rails, the motive generally seems to be something that's emotionally engaging: like religion, ethnicity, national origin, or sex.

But I don't think that Mr. Abdulazeez's actions prove that all Muslims, or Middle Easterners, are terrorists: any more than Anders Behring Breivik's and Dylann Roof's actions prove that everyone with European ancestry is a killer.

It's true that right now quite a few folks are extremely upset at how the world's changing. Mr. Roof, for example, seems convinced that folks with African ancestry are threatening "his" country. Mr. Abdulazeez may have had a similar opinion about Marines.

In a way, these killers are right. Sort of.

The America I grew up in has changed, a lot. Not only have we had an Irish president: folks who don't even look British are moving to this country. I don't mind: but some folks do.

Mr. Abdulazeez is too young to remember the 'good old days' before steam power, television, and the Geneva Conventions, but he may have grown up around folks who yearn for their 'good old days.' Today's world may be a terrifying place for folks who aren't comfortable around anyone who is not from their extended family.

Small wonder that some Muslims are acting like some 'regular Americans' have, lashing out at folks who aren't just like themselves. (A Catholic Citizen in America, September 11, 2014)

That doesn't, I think, excuse folks who kill others for having the 'wrong' faith, or ancestry. And it certainly does not make it okay for me to hate folks who aren't just like me.

If I expect others to let me live, even though I'm not just like them: I'd better show them the same courtesy. I've talked about love, hate, and building a better world, mostly in another blog:

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.