Yesterday I pointed out that Jimmy Kimmel had effectively argued that because we respond to terror attacks in what he considers to be a knee-jerk way, we should respond to terrible shootings in a knee-jerk way, too. Today, Thomas Friedman does the same thing in the New York Times:
If only Stephen Paddock had been a Muslim … If only he had shouted “Allahu akbar” before he opened fire on all those concertgoers in Las Vegas … If only he had been a member of ISIS … If only we had a picture of him posing with a Quran in one hand and his semiautomatic rifle in another …
If all of that had happened, no one would be telling us not to dishonor the victims and “politicize” Paddock’s mass murder by talking about preventive remedies.
No, no, no. Then we know what we’d be doing. We’d be scheduling immediate hearings in Congress about the worst domestic terrorism event since 9/11. Then Donald Trump would be tweeting every hour “I told you so,” as he does minutes after every terror attack in Europe, precisely to immediately politicize them. Then there would be immediate calls for a commission of inquiry to see what new laws we need to put in place to make sure this doesn’t happen again. Then we’d be “weighing all options” against the country of origin.
This argument has the same problem as Kimmel’s. If reacting to Muslim terrorism leads us to these counter-productive and hysterical measures, the answer isn’t to replicate those measures elsewhere, it’s to avoid such behavior in both cases.