The San Bernardino murders

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When he was in the Navy, my cousin Bob lost his wallet to a pickpocket in San Bernardino. That would have been in the 1940s.

I hadn’t thought about the crime for many years. But over the weekend, the city appeared once more on my radar. A heavily-armed Muslim couple showed up at social agency where county workers and friends were celebrating the season with a holiday party.

Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik
Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik

She was a Pakistani national, the husband was born here.

Before police shot and killed them, the couple had killed 14 people and injured 21. This was the deadliest terror attack in this country since 9/11. The tragedy prompted President Obama to appear on television to denounce the attack. He assured the American people that his administration was doing everything possible to prevent such further tragedies.

I’m sure it’s a mystery to most people what motivated the couple to kill innocent people. It deepens the mystery that this couple’s mission left their young daughter an orphan to be raised by her grandmother. I bet it’s just as much a mystery to Muslims here than most everybody else.

Before the attack, the couple put a vow of allegiance on the Internet to a Muslim terror group leader. So among members of the group, the act gives special status. Because of their beliefs, the couple must have expected, in the event of their deaths, to go immediately to heaven.

To a religious skeptic like me, this Muslim couple’s murders in the name of their beliefs makes no sense whatsoever. Of course, the murders constitute no special reflection on religion. Atheistic Soviet leaders from Stalin on down murdered thousands of innocent people.

After the president’s address, Republican candidates for president took no time denouncing his speech. But I wanted to remind these people that before he was a U.S. senator and, then, president, he was a law professor. He’s a superb lecturer. That’s how he gives speeches.

With him, you’re out of luck if you want the country’s leader to sound like the late rabble-rousing Gov. George Wallace. Thank goodness he never became president.

Presidential candidate Donald Trump thinks he has the right answer. He wants to ban all Muslims from entering the country. I suppose he’d exempt diplomats coming to the United Nations from Muslim countries. It doesn’t require a twisted interpretation of a religious text to justify killing innocent people.

I can assure you that the vast majority of killers on U.S. streets aren’t Muslim. These guys murder hundreds of people every year. If they profess any religion, it’s Christianity.

I doubt if most Americans know that our U.S.border control agents screen foreigners for two years before they’re given a visa that allows them to remain here. Seems reasonable. What doesn’t make sense is to have such lax gun laws that this one couple in San Bernardino was able to amass an arsenal of semi-automatic rifles and pounds of explosives.

No president will be able to put a stop to all terrorist attacks. George W. Bush didn’t do it. Bill Clinton didn’t do it. Obama didn’t.

What a president can do is to put forth reasonable plans to thwart attempted terror attacks and to offer reassurance to the American people that his administration is doing everything possible to keep us safe.

Meantime, we can all mourn such a great loss of innocent people in one California city. Surely, we also can endorse reasonable measures to protect public safety. That is, we can endorse those measures that don’t sacrifice our freedoms.

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