This week has been one of those weeks that come once or twice a year, it seems, when mass-murder fills the news.
First, on Wed., July 18, there was an attack in Bulgaria against a bus filled with unarmed Israeli tourists. Second, early this morning, there was an attack in a midnight movie theater in Denver, CO, killing and wounding adults and children alike. In Bulgaria, 5 Israelis and the Bulgarian bus driver were killed. In Denver, 12 are dead and 50 wounded. Yet the nature of these two attacks is fundamentally different, and that difference can not be ignored.
It is important for the ethical and religious people of the world to know that these killers are not "crazy," but are intentional and well thought-out individuals who are deliberately and knowingly killing the innocent among us. The Bulgarian attack was perpetrated by a suicide bomber, dressed in plaid shorts, in the country for only a few days, and carrying a fake Michigan driver's license. The Denver attack by a man in black, wearing a bullet proof vest, carrying a rifle, shotgun, two hand guns and a gas mask for the smoke canisters he used in the attack. Neither crime was done out of "passion" or in a day.
Conclusion? These are not crazy people. These people know what they are doing. They know that what they are doing is wrong enough to evade the authorities, and to hide until the moment of violence.
And while both murderers are cowards who surprise-attack their unarmed civilian victims, their motivations are clearly different: One is political and one is social.
A Political murderer, in the case of the attack on Israelis can not be brought to "justice" simply because he is a suicide murderer. Was he working for Hamas? Hezbollah? Or was he working for Iran, as Ambassador Michael Oren presents? http://video.foxnews.com/v/1741751357001/ The bottom line is that there is no possibility of civilized engagement with political murderers. They can only be stopped by force in advance, prevented by force en route, or engaged by force in the place of their crime. Their supporting state and non-government organizations must be starved or destroyed if such murder is to be prevented in the future. They know how to talk and have chosen this instead. Talk will not be the solution.
A social murderer is different. James Homes, who was caught at the scene next to his car with a second round of arms inside, was raised to a college education, is a former Medical student, and had just recently withdrawn from a PhD program in Neuroscience at the University of Denver. He dressed in the garb of a villin and broke into the back door of a shoot-em-up Batman movie to attack the crowd. He had booby-trapped his apartment with explosives, evidently to great the investigation in the wake of his crime. As an individual, frustrated in his failures and goals, one can see social discontent is the likely motivation for his evil decisions. But his intelligence and planning are apparent.
Some like to claim that the roots of violence are economic. This is simply not the case. The 911 attackers were not starving or uneducated. Quite the contrary. They were simply political murderers. So too the suicide bomber in Bulgaria. Eventually he will be identified. His economics will be irrelevant. And of course James Homes, or the UVA shooter, or Columbine... all are from the privileged "class" in this country.
When it comes to social murderers, the force of law must be mustered against them, and against any who support and enable them. Yet prison, rehabilitation, and other social tools may have some hope in such cases - if we care to apply all of our societal tools in the justice system. That is a debate for another day.
But when it comes to political murderers, there is no such hope or reason to believe that tools of peace will win the day.