This post is in follow up to my previous post “Our Insidious War Has Begun”. If you have not read that post I encourage you to do so before going further with this one.
The natural question that follows a post like my previous one is what on earth do we do to address something that is so difficult to detect, so evil, so divisive, and of course so insidious? Again, pulling from my lens as a psychotherapist and former law enforcement officer I have a few ideas. (Perhaps you do as well and can respectfully share yours in the comments.)
- First and foremost is to eliminate any shred of political correctness and return power back to the people’s voice so that when suspicious activity is seen or heard it can be reported without fear of being called a bigot or racist. As a case in point, pedophiles succeed because their victims feel they do not have a voice: children are taught to respect and obey authority and this is a huge tool used by the abuser to carry out the abuse. However, when you empower a child and teach him or her to understand that there are circumstances when they CAN use their voice (or any other means necessary to protect themselves) then the rate of successful abuse attempts declines. What is the correlation? Evil succeeds because on some fundamental level we fear fighting back, and It counts on this to do the desired damage. A child with a voice, just the same as a citizen with a voice, is a powerful weapon and one that must be utilized proactively to counteract terror. The facts are that few other radical or extreme segments of any religion in the world are currently behaving such as the radical Islamists. This must be named and this must be faced and to silence anyone who wishes to report suspicious behavior under threat of being called names is to seal our own fate. (This is, by the way, exactly what happened in San Bernardino, CA.)
- Implement the existing background checking laws fully and maintain supervision on those employees vetting the background checks to ensure that no one on the inside is sliding applications through. When I completed my gun permit application I have no idea how the information was checked. However I can tell you that if people are doing their jobs and those applications are being checked properly it would potentially reduce the number of firearms getting into the questionable hands of people who are either mentally ill or perhaps unsophisticated criminals. (Sophisticated criminals along with terrorist will get what they want regardless so this particular point may or may not help against our current type of war. However, it should reduce the number of guns falling into hands that shouldn’t have them.)
- Immediately call upon top former military and law enforcement personnel to submit application for renewed background checks and issue concealed carry permits to those who meet background checking requirements. This includes my home state of California where it is currently virtually impossible to obtain a concealed carry permit specifically in Los Angeles County. Someone like myself, for example, who worked for the Federal Bureau of Prisons, had at one time been vetted as qualified to do so. A current background check examining the years between my employment time and to current date–one that would examine mental health, legal activity, etc.– would quickly and easily provide an added level of experienced front-line civilian protection should a terror attack happen anywhere across the country. In 2014 there were approximately 19.3 million veterans in the United States and there have to be at least that many ex-law enforcement officers. Surely a large percentage of those individuals would be both qualified and willing to step forward and quietly protect our communities nation-wide.
- Local law enforcement begin immediately creating educational programming for community members free of charge that teach a variety of valuable information including but not limited to: what to do in the event of a terror attack, ways to protect one’s home, basic self-defense, what constitutes suspicious activity and how to document and report it, how to survey a public place and identify suspicious people or activity (for example, in the case of the Boston bombers the video surveillance showed they were two of very few people carrying backpacks and walking in the manner in which they did). This is a simple and inexpensive way to educate local communities, develop a sense of unity, and build a base for citizens who are actively looking with a trained eye for any potential terrorist activity and looking out for each other as well.
- Demand and elect a government that will actually protect its citizens. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but our current government is not interested in our welfare nor is it interested in removing ISIS and their attacks. Actions speak louder than words always, and our government’s actions show us that we citizens are simply not the priority. At this point one can see that within only a few weeks Russia has made major advancement against ISIS. If the United States is one of the most powerful armies in the world then there is no excuse that we have seen zero results in the reduction of ISIS–in fact it has been the opposite, they have gotten stronger. As a therapist I look at outcomes of behavior. The outcome of our current government’s behavior is San Bernardino, CA. When our President declares climate change as our greatest threat we have a very serious problem as a nation. To me this statement was a declaration that our President is not in tune with us civilians and his priorities are elsewhere. (Personally I feel the entire climate change stance is a political and possibly military diversion of attention, but that is for another post.)
- Allow law enforcement to conduct surveillance as desired and needed on any and all places of worship. Any place of worship that is following the law and not planning or inciting terrorism will not care the least bit if someone is listening in. We know full well that mosques across our country are spewing hatred and promoting terror attacks. In essence, there are mosques everywhere working to radicalize their membership. Those mosques that are law abiding and faithful to the welfare of the United States would not oppose such surveillance and in fact should be speaking out publicly against terror activity.
What would be the wisest thing the United States administration could do? Humble itself and learn from Israel. There is no country in the world better versed in handling terrorist activity on every level. Regardless, we must recognize that San Bernardino, CA was just the beginning. Radical Islam is not going away unless we unite and make it go away in a responsible, proactive approach. Just as Israel is doing on a daily basis, we must send the message to the world, and radical Islam in particular, that we as United States citizens will not go down, and certainly not without a fight.