America was on the receiving end of multiple, mostly failed, terrorist attacks over the weekend—in Minnesota, New Jersey and New York.
None of the attacks involved guns, which has made it difficult for the media and politicians to rally around a policy for protecting the country against future attacks.
In St. Cloud, Minnesota, nine people—seven men and two women—were stabbed Saturday night at the Crossroads Center mall. The suspect, described as being dressed in a private security uniform, reportedly asked at least one victim whether they were Muslim before stabbing them. Witnesses said the suspect spoke of Allah during the assault.
“We are currently investigating this as a potential act of terrorism,” said FBI spokesman Richard Thornton on Sunday afternoon. He would not link the act to any specific terror attack, but an Islamic State-linked news agency took credit, calling the suspect a “soldier of the Islamic state.”
While the FBI is calling it “a potential act of terrorism,” it has not verified anything to suggest the suspect wasn’t a lone wolf.
In New Jersey and New York, several bombs exploded with the potential to kill or hurt hundreds. Luckily, no one was killed and only a few dozen were injured. On Saturday morning, a pipe bomb exploded in a garbage can at the starting line of a Marine Corps charity race. Registration issues thankfully delayed the start of the race, so no one was injured.
Later that evening, a pressure-cooker bomb exploded in New York City’s Chelsea neighborhood. Twenty-nine people were injured. A second device was found four blocks away, but it didn’t explode.
On Sunday, a bag containing five additional explosive devices was found in a trash can outside the Elizabeth, N.J. train station. On Monday morning, the suspect in the NJ/NY bombings, Ahmad Khan Rahami, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Afghanistan, was arrested following a shootout with police.
Okay, so maybe guns were involved a little, but not enough for the media to scream: BAN GUNS and blame a lack of gun control—rather than the terrorists using the guns—for the attacks.
Remember after the Orlando and San Bernardino terrorist attacks how the media and politicians launched into their typical tirades about the need for gun control? It was so much easier back then to blame guns and the National Rifle Association than the actual terrorists and terrorism at large.
Instead, we had President Barack Obama in May blaming climate change for terrorism. And in June, after the Orlando massacre, Obama suggested that attitudes toward the LGBT community were responsible for the attack. And Monday morning, after a weekend of terror attacks, Obama’s White House press secretary, Josh Earnest, told CNN the U.S. was in a “narrative fight” with the Islamic State, as opposed to, you know, a deadly fight.
“What I can tell you is that we are, when it comes to ISIL, we are in a fight, a narrative fight with them, a narrative battle,” Earnest said. “And what ISIL wants to do is they want to project that they are an organization that is representing Islam in a fight, in a war against the West and a war against the United States.”
He added: “That is a bankrupt, false narrative. It is a mythology. And we have made progress in debunking that mythology.”
I’m not sure what part is false. I think many understand that the Islamic State is not representative of Islam, but it’s hard to divorce the connection at this point.
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton went so far as to blame the attacks on GOP nominee Donald Trump’s rhetoric.
“They are looking to make this into a war against Islam, rather than a war against jihadists, violent terrorists,” Clinton said. “The kinds of rhetoric and language Mr. Trump has used is giving aid and comfort to our adversaries.”
Clinton has in the past claimed the Islamic State is using Trump’s rhetoric to recruit new members, but could not provide any evidence of the claim (predictably, this outrageous accusation didn’t receive the same level of attention as Trump’s claims that Clinton started the birther movement against Obama).
Trump, for his part, accused Clinton of having “emboldened terrorists” while she was secretary of state.
It’s one thing for the candidates to blame each other for the attacks, but it’s another to put undue blame on the choice of weapon and ignore the motives behind the attacks. If the weapons were to blame, then we should ban pressure cookers, all explosive materials (so many household chemicals can be used to make bombs it wouldn’t even be possible) and knives.
But maybe, just maybe, there’s something else at play here—and the media, Obama and his supporters on the left are going to have to come to terms with that. A renewed push for gun control isn’t going to stop terrorists from using bombs, knives or anything else they can think of to maim.
Disclosure: Donald Trump is the father-in-law of Jared Kushner, the publisher of Observer Media.