Right brain…Left brain…any brain?

If one believes banning assault weapons would not help prevent mass shootings, then it is hard to follow how banning Muslims works to defeat terrorism. Yet this conflicting logic represents two beliefs which are widely espoused with disturbing regularity lately in America. How can that be so?

Answering one set of radical principles with another does not make one “smart” or “tough”. It makes you just another radical. It is not okay to substitute hatred for one group of people with another. But it is also not okay to dismiss, confuse or excuse inhumanity or evil on the basis of “tolerance” and “freedom.”

America is being fed a steady stream of false equivalences by the media for the sake of “controversy” and ratings that would have us even, most recently, seem to question the value of the life of a four year old boy vs the life of an animal. If we can no longer have the intellect and good sense to make such distinctions, then we may as well be ruled not by a constitution but by the law of the jungle. This is not America. We would in effect become a failed state no better than the sick fundamentalists who hate everything America stands for. It is not because we call radical Islamists by their name that they hate us. They hate us because they are radical “Islamists”. If we can’t use the correct term, it does not make us less able to defeat them. But it does make us less able to explain why we must defeat them. We are not, nor cannot be at war with an entire religion. We are at war with a cult. Definition does matter. Language matters. Thinking. Matters.

There is not a gay America, or liberal or conservative or Jewish or Evangelical or Muslim or African America. There is only one UNITED states of America, that stands for liberty and justice for ALL. It’s long past time that we all start teaching that again. Our political parties may have different ways to achieve the same goal. But no one has the the right to say they are any more American than anyone else. Especially no one running for President of the United States. No party has the exclusive rights to humanity and dignity. We don’t need to make America great again. We need to make America whole again.

I grieve for the young friends and families whose lives have been ripped apart by yet another failure of our society to deal with a cult of death. Whatever the root cause of this cult, and I believe in this most recent tragic case of the events in Orlando there are many, the last thing we should do is turn on each other. Don’t drink the poison of hate and violence. Reject it. Now is the time for brave and courageous souls to stand up and declare “not in my name!”

If you think ISIS is a perversion of the precepts of Islam, then if you are a peace loving Muslim, have the guts to stand up and say loudly, clearly “not in my name!” And if you believe that selling assault weapons with “background checks” that consist of answering questions that are effectively non sequiturs like “are you a terrorist?” is a perversion of the second amendment on which our country was founded, stand up and proclaim “not in my name!” And if you believe that our democracy was founded on a principle of uniting us for the purpose of achieving man’s highest and noblest ideals, free and absent of prejudice, and not by exploiting fear and division on the basis of political party, ethnic origin, religious beliefs or immigration status, reject the politics hate and declare “not in my name!” Now more than ever, America must demand better. What a terrible sad shame it is that there is no leadership in either party that has the courage, the insight or the credibility to say so. We have a President who refuses to accept that “folks in a Deli” were targeted because they were Jewish, and a candidate for that same office who targets judges because they are Mexican. This is not America.

Some of you who follow my blogs and my posts may argue how can such a view square with my views about terrorism in Israel? My answer is simply this. Terrorism is not a religion or a people. Terrorism is a cult of death that some have used to exploit,abuse and pervert a religion or group of people and behave in a way that is not only non spiritual, but inhuman. It is indeed critically important that we define evil and call it by its name. And we must be willing and free to defend ourselves from such violence and inhumanity when necessary. But it is equally critical that we not drink the poison of hate and define those who disagree with one political view, or religion or lifestyle or another in the same fashion. Surely at some point we can all agree that there is no need in the consumer market for the sale of assault weapons in order to preserve our constitutional rights. Even in Israel, where for every two Israelis you have three opinions, people don’t use their state issued weapons to settle disagreements or act on their grievances. And in case you didn’t know, Israel does not have a ban on Muslims, despite being surrounded by Muslim states that actively enable and sponsor terrorist groups whose only aim is the destruction of the Jewish state. That is what a truly brave, healthy and vibrant democracy looks like. And when a soldier shoots a “neutralized” terrorist, the country struggles painfully with the moral crisis it creates, unlike anything you will ever see from a cult of hate that seeks nothing but the destruction of the very state that exercises a conscience its enemies lack.

We don’t need more “good guys with guns”, the world needs more “good guys”, period. And just as we need more effective background checks for immigrants who enter this country from an increasingly violent and dangerous world, so too should we require more stringent and effective background checks on those who wish to own a firearm. But that does not give us the excuse to build walls or wholesale ban a group of people just because of who they are. In this case in particular, it should be abundantly clear that wholesale banning Muslim immigration would have done nothing to prevent the actions of an American born psychopath. Banning assault weapons on the other hand would have. There is no reason addressing both challenges at once with deliberate and thoughtful vigilance should not be possible. Neither problem, and neither solution is mutually exclusive.

In order to have more good guys, perhaps it’s time to think about what and how we teach our children, and perhaps more importantly what our children can teach us. As if we don’t have enough twisted perversions of ideology in the world, our politics have become so warped, that in Florida, there is legislation that prohibits a doctor, a pediatrician, from even discussing gun safety with families and parents for example. Those who wrap themselves in the flag and in the phony rhetoric of constitutional rights should examine their conscience and determine if the constitutional right to free speech, or the life of a born child is any less important than the right to bear arms, or the right to life of an unborn child. Surely that is not what the framers intended. Ideology at the expense of simple logic does not make you a better American. It just makes you another parrot on cable news. Think America. It might hurt for a moment. But the consequences of not thinking will last for generations. Some, including 23 school children, would argue that the tragedy in Orlando was entirely preventable and we have already paid an unacceptably high price.

About the Author
Nigel Spier is a practicing OB/GYN in Hollywood, Florida who has served as Chief of the Department of OB/GYN at Memorial Regional Hospital, President of the Broward County Medical Association and on the board of his local chapter of ARMDI. He is active in many Jewish organizations and charities and is an eternal optimist and advocate for reform, peace and global prosperity.
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