“But you’ve got to kill the terrorists before the killing stops. And I’m for the president to chase them all over the world. If it takes 10 years, blow them all away in the name of the LORD.”
— Jerry Falwell, CNN Late Edition, Oct. 24, 2004
Oh, really? Killing terrorists will destroy terrorism? Whom did he think he was dealing with, really?
Falwell’s inane comment, however, was a sign of a bigger issue: The idea that simply threatening to use force will cause people to behave the way we want them to and, combined with the arrogance that we’re always right, that can lead only to trouble.
I’m specifically referring to two things: Militarism abroad and the large number of recent mass shootings, primarily but not exclusively in schools.
In the latter, it’s been suggested that if people, most notably teachers, were armed such mass shootings wouldn’t even take place. The theory goes that snipers would think twice about shooting up places if the public were packing heat.
The trouble is that we’re not dealing with rational people, many of which likely have a death wish as it is (recall that most of them take their own lives during their respective rampages). And in the case of the shooter in the theater in Aurora, Colo. two years ago, he had the foresight to spray tear gas before he started shooting, making such self-defense impossible. Besides that, it’s several times more probable that an innocent person will be killed with a gun at home as opposed to a criminal — and, on top of that, if someone burglarizes a house a gun might be the first thing he looks for.
And then, with the advent of the so-called Islamic State, others are saying that we should send in troops and take it out. Trouble is, as President Obama said correctly during this year’s National Prayer Breakfast, ISIS is a “death cult” that won’t be stopped by simply killing its members. According to its twisted interpretation of Islam, dying in battle is the highest good — and that in its own right makes it attractive to potential recruits. Besides, we’re already in the hole due to our excursion into Iraq to settle a personal score President George W. Bush had with Saddam Hussein.
When Jesus walked this earth the Roman Empire was at peace, relatively speaking. But it was the “Pax Romana,” enforced by the point of a sword — that no one messed with Rome. Trouble was, Israel in that day was undergoing a revival of patriotism, with plenty of resentment toward Rome and a desire to defeat it. (Rome of course was eventually defeated, not by military might but because the then-nascent Christian church simply outlasted it.
I’m not taking a position on gun control or military strength; we just need to think about what we have and how to use it judiciously lest innocent people be victimized by them. See, intimidation has its limits.