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Rhetoric in the wake of Paris attack comes fast and furious

Date: 11/19/2015

The reactions I’ve seen to the Paris terror attacks have both intrigued and sickened me, sometimes all at once.

My Facebook feed has several memes that people must have created almost as soon as they had heard of the attacks. One chided Paris for being a “gun free zone” and strongly implied that if Parisians had been armed the casualties wouldn’t have been great.

I’m still not sure about the logic that supports a scenario in which several gun men armed with automatic weapons would be neutralized by audience members at a rock concert who are able to discern they are under attack, avoid the shots fired by the terrorists, bring out their weapon and fire them effectively in the turmoil.

I suppose, though, that story gives some people comfort. We want to believe that in a moment of crisis we can personally prevent tragedy.

Another meme put forth the notion that if President Ronald Reagan were in office he would dispatch ISIS efficiently and quickly. Obviously people have forgotten Reagan’s record in Middle Eastern issues and terrorism. Remember the 241 American military personnel killed by terrorists in Lebanon in 1983?

Perhaps some people don’t.

Reagan never retaliated. The current canonization of Reagan by people who are apparently unaware of history confounds me.

The right of center media picked up and distributed a story about a series of Twitter posts from University of Missouri activists who complained about the Paris attacks. One tweet read: “Interesting how the news reports are covering the Paris terrorist attacks but said nothing about the terrorists attack at Mizzou.”

Other Tweets forwarded the same theme: that it was racist to divert media attention from the events at their university to the attacks in Paris.

For me, these Tweets will do nothing to change people’s minds about the level of racism that exists in this country. They will simply add fuel to the wrong fire.

Muslims themselves have been taking to Twitter to condemn the attacks and Islamic leaders have declared their solidarity with the French people.

This reaction has been ignored, though, by folks who are apparently convinced that anyone following Islam is a potential threat.

Really? So the folks here in Western Massachusetts who worship in West Springfield are a threat? What evidence is there?

And, of course, there have been plenty of social media references to deporting radicalized Muslims from this country, closing our borders and not bringing over any Middle Eastern refugees.

It’s Fortress America time.

Also, there have been calls to ban the practice of Islam in the United States, because the concepts of freedom of religion and expression as well as the idea of being innocent until proven guilty shouldn’t apply to American citizens who are Muslims.

I guess some people want a return to the policies of World War II when Japanese-Americans with no history of disloyalty were placed in prison camps because of a suspicion they couldn’t be trusted.

Shouldn’t our actions and opinions be based on fact?

I understand the shorthand style of communication in social media is attractive to people who want to register their opinion without making too much effort. The trouble is the current status of world affairs is far more complex than what can be conveyed in an image and a few words.

If you truly are interested in what is going on shouldn’t you do a little research? Shouldn’t you actually start reading articles from various sources to gain background knowledge?

By the way, just don’t read material that already affirms your established beliefs. Challenge yourself to seek out different sources.

Think about this: what actions has the United States taken publicly or covertly that has helped fan the flames of radicalization? Remember how Reagan helped create the Taliban by sending billions of dollars to Afghan freedom fighters?  What have we done in the past 20 years that has brought us to this point?

Events are more complicated than the memes and Tweets would have us believe.

Agree? Disagree? Drop me a line at or at 280 N. Main St., East Longmeadow, MA 01028. As always, this column represents the opinion of its author and not the publishers or advertisers of this newspaper.