In a recent editorial in the Washington Post, Glenn Greenwald says that the FBI was right not to arrest Omar Mateen before the shooting. I agree with his point of view in general, because I believe that our freedoms are more important than absolute security, which cannot ever truly be achieved. I also believe that we have long ago passed the point of diminishing returns, where increasing authoritarianism – and simultaneous loss of freedom – leads to increased security. We are giving up far more than we are gaining.
That being said, I would like to return to the analogy that Greenwald uses in his article, that of fatal car accidents. As he rightfully states, a large number of people die each year in fatal car accidents, and we recognize that this is “the worthwhile cost paid in exchange for the benefits of efficient auto travel and affordable cars”. We do a deadly calculation to decide that it would not be desirable to put in place severely restrictive speed limits (worse than they are now), excess traffic lights and stop signs (more than the excess we already have), and insane amounts of padding inside our cars. As he states, “we accept that some deaths are inevitable” and try to find a balance between convenience and accessibility versus fatal accidents.
However, if in doing this calculation we discovered that the large majority of fatal accidents were caused by one particular make of car, and that particular car maker was at best ambivalent and at worst deliberately making cars that would cause fatal accidents, we would not stand by and let that car maker continue to put more cars on the road. We would demand that car maker to have a recall to fix their defective cars and to put in place design changes to assure that defective cars would not continue to be put on the market.
This is the situation we are in with Islam. While most Muslims are law-abiding and peace loving, Muslims are carrying out the vast majority of terrorist actions. And because the Islamic faith has not undergone a reformation, most Muslims living in the West are in a state of cognitive dissonance, where the demands of their faith’s sharia law conflict with the human laws and society in which they live.
Therefore, while the vast majority of Muslims are shocked and horrified by the actions of a small number of people of their faith, the demands of sharia and their cognitive dissonance prevent them from actively speaking out against these actions and demanding change within the religion. There is likely a proportion of these Muslims that are secretly pleased by the radical actions of their brethren, because this subtle backing, whether conscious or unconscious, helps to relieve the cognitive dissonance.
So what is to be done? Leaders in the West, and people in general, must push Muslims to demand a reform within their religion. The outdated and outmoded parts of their religion that push for the suppression, diminishing, and even death of women, homosexuals, and unbelievers must be condemned and declared no longer essential parts of the religion. If we are going to live and thrive together, we must find common agreement on these basic tenets.