What Police Shootings and Jihad Have in Common

13Dec15

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I’m going to do something unexpected today. I’m going to agree with anti-police activists from the political left. But the activists probably won’t be happy about it.

Anti-police activists claim the many unjustified killings of black men by police officers show a systemic problem. They say these killings aren’t unconnected, disparate events caused by a handful of bad apples; instead, these incidents illustrate a problem within police culture. Even if the majority of police are good, the fact that so many bad ones unjustifiably kill people proves the entire system is corrupt. The activists argue that good police officers who don’t stand up to denounce bad ones are themselves part of the problem.

I’ve been a cop for over twenty years. I’ve argued that the shooting of Michael Brown was justified, and that NYPD didn’t intend to kill Eric Garner. I’ve defended police culture in general. Even so, I think those anti-police activists have a point.

Now I’ll get to the part that anti-police activists, and the larger left-leaning population behind them, won’t like:

Doesn’t this same logic apply to Islamic terrorism? Most Muslims are peaceful, but a small number carry out many, many acts of terrorism. Those acts of terrorism aren’t denounced by enough peaceful Muslims, and are quietly supported by a huge number (up to 195 million, according to a Pew Research poll). How do people point to a string of isolated murders by police and conclude police culture has a problem, then point to a string of murders by jihadists but conclude Islam doesn’t have the same problem?

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I don’t ask this question as a devout Christian conservative who despises Islam. I ask this as an agnostic political independent who’s had overwhelmingly positive experiences with Muslims. I lived as a UN civilian police officer in a Muslim country, worked daily with Muslims, had many Muslim friends, learned their language and culture, didn’t hide my beliefs, and never felt the least bit threatened. In Afghanistan I risked my life with and for Afghan Muslim soldiers, who risked their lives with and for me. Yes, Taliban tried to kill me, and I tried to kill them; that didn’t change my feelings about the Muslims beside me.

Here at home I’ve served with American Muslim cops and soldiers, and maintain friendships with many Muslims outside my professions. I helped a Muslim friend with her first novel. Not long ago I attended a murder-mystery party held by a Lebanese Muslim friend and her white Christian husband for their son, who had just been hired as a police officer. The guests were white, black, Hispanic and Arab, included Muslims, Christians and at least one guy who rejects all religion, and we had a great time together (by the way, at any party hosted by an Arab the food is awesome).

Unfortunately, despite my personal experience, Islamic terrorism is a threat. That’s objective fact. We’re all aware of the 368 innocent people slaughtered by jihadists in San Bernardino, Sinai and Paris, but we don’t often realize those attacks are relatively small potatoes compared to the unending campaign of murder outside the western world. In the last two years terrorism, nearly all of it Islamic, has killed over fifty thousand people worldwide. Al Qaeda’s decades-old threat has been supplanted by ISIS, an organization with tens of thousands of adherents and funded by forty to fifty million dollars per month in extortion, oil and tax money. ISIS has declared war on us, and someday we’ll figure out that war doesn’t require agreement from both parties. When war is declared on you by thirty thousand religious fanatics with weapons, combat experience, hundreds of millions in capital and a burning hatred for anyone who doesn’t agree with their beliefs, you’re at war whether you like it or not.

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Yet many in our nation choose to be willfully blind to the threat of Islamic terrorism. The New York Times published an article in June asserting that homegrown extremists have killed more people in America than Muslim extremists since 9/11, which conveniently begins counting just after we lost 3000 apparently unimportant victims to jihad. The Washington Post reported on November 23rd that car accidents, heart disease, cancer, suicide and other problems are far more dangerous than terrorism, and in fact, “You’re more likely to be fatally crushed by furniture than killed by a terrorist”.

I’m sure the victims in San Bernardino were thankful no furniture fell on them as they were being mowed down by Islamic terrorists.

Health risks resulting from lifestyle choices are voluntary. Accidents are brutal, tragic and accidental. Intentional acts of violence against the innocent are different. We have a stronger reaction against the kidnapping and murder of one child than a car accident that kills two children. Because one is a blatant expression of pure evil, the other is an unintentional happenstance than can be caused or suffered by literally anyone. Laughing off threats of genocide from dedicated murderers because we’re more likely to die of a heart attack or car accident is pretty stupid.

Yes, I get it. There’s very little chance we’ll be killed by jihadist suicide bombers. There’s also very little chance of dying in a mass shooting by a white anti-government extremist. There’s little chance a black man will be killed by a police officer. Yet every act of violent right-wing extremism provokes a (justifiable) uproar, and after every mass shooting the President and many others demand major legislative changes. Every unjustified police shooting of a black man sparks demonstrations and demands for change. If the slim chance of dying in a mass shooting from an anti-government zealot demands acknowledgment and action, and the slim chance of being murdered by a police officer demands public demonstration, so does the relatively slim chance of dying at the hands of Muslim terrorists.

In the last week I’ve heard two people, one a college professor and one an elected representative, minimize the threat of Islamic terrorism. The professor emphasized that almost all American Muslims oppose terrorism, and claimed Muslims themselves have stopped hundreds of attacks since 9/11 by turning in the plotters. The representative made the same point, and said nearly every week peaceful American Muslims turn in extremists trying to carry out jihadist attacks. The professor said America’s three million Muslims are overwhelmingly peaceful, the representative said the same thing but put the number of American’s Muslims at eight million.

So approximately one or two percent of our population has plotted hundreds of unsuccessful attacks since 9/11 and fails in a new plot nearly every week, and that’s supposed to convince me the threat is negligible? And that’s not including the small number of successful attacks like the Boston Marathon, Chattanooga or San Bernardino. It doesn’t take into account the American-born Muslims who saw videos of ISIS burning and decapitating prisoners, learned about their campaign of legitimized rape, heard the call to kill their neighbors, decided “That all sounds good to me,” and joined the jihad.

This isn’t hypothetical. One of those American-born Muslims went to school with my daughter. He traveled overseas to join ISIS, came home to visit family, and got caught. He’s not in jail. I now have an aspiring ISIS murderer living just minutes from my family.

We’ve seen, over and over, that intelligent, educated, wealthy Muslims who grow up in the west or live here for years can still turn against us. We saw it when nineteen wealthy, privileged Muslim men flew airplanes into our buildings. We saw it when a doctor from a British hospital rammed a car bomb into Glasgow International Airport. We saw it when an educated, foreign-born American Muslim engineer killed five American service members in Tennessee. We should have learned by now that some Muslims live in our culture, experience our freedom and opportunity, and still want to destroy it.

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Yet as a nation we still embrace the narrative of the poor, oppressed victim who had no option but to blow himself up. Our most senior officials sometimes refuse to even acknowledge Islam as a factor in Islamic terrorism. After the Charlie Hebdo attack and massacre of Jews at a kosher café that followed, our President referred to the cafe victims as having been randomly shot even though the killer himself said he targeted them because they were Jews. Despite The San Bernardino attack’s immediate indicators of Islamic terrorism, the President resisted acknowledging the obvious and only did so after ridiculously asserting “this could have been workplace-related”. As if an employee had an argument with a coworker, went home, put on military gear and armed himself with an AR-15 and pistol, built pipe bombs, grabbed his wife, and drove back to work to carry out an obviously planned mass murder.

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On the day of the San Bernardino attack I made these predictions. I’m not a terrorism expert and had no inside information. How did I and others immediately recognize the attack as Islamic terrorism, yet our President couldn’t?

Islamic terrorism is a huge threat. We need to stop dancing around that fact. The very small Muslim population of America, even though it’s mostly peaceful, generates attacks and failed attacks at a rate far out of proportion to its actual numbers. According to at least one report, 69 planned jihadist attacks against the United States have failed since 9/11. And since Islamic terrorism kills far more Muslims than anyone else, aren’t we putting peaceful Muslims at more risk by not addressing the threat they face?

Just as we’ve acknowledged a problem integral to police culture, we need to acknowledge the problem within Islam that leads so many of its adherents to commit horrible crimes. By acknowledging that problem, I don’t have to turn against Muslims who aren’t a threat. My friends aren’t the problem. The millions of American Muslims who oppose terrorism aren’t the problem. But hiding among those millions are a small number who do want to destroy us, who are in fact Muslims and do in fact wish to murder us in the name of their religion. Acting as if the elephant isn’t in the bedroom isn’t helping us, and ultimately doesn’t help peaceful Muslims either.

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Chris Hernandez is a 20 year police officer, former Marine and currently serving National Guard soldier with over 25 years of military service. He is a combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan and also served 18 months as a United Nations police officer in Kosovo. He writes for BreachBangClear.com and Iron Mike magazine and has published two military fiction novels, Proof of Our Resolve and Line in the Valley, through Tactical16 Publishing. He can be reached at chris_hernandez_author@yahoo.com or on his Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/ProofofOurResolve).

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19 Responses to “What Police Shootings and Jihad Have in Common”

  1. 1 Mark W

    Yes the elephant is indeed in the bedroom. Has always been there. It’s a crazy whacked out mentally FUBAR nutjob of an elephant that cannot be reasoned with.
    “islamic terrorism”? No, Islam is not the problem. The elephant has been there longer than you and I have been alive and will be in the bedroom long after you and I have passed on. Dasch wants us to carry their narrative and blame this on the infidels. Religion has nothing to do with it! Its crazy whacked out nutjob dasch that are the problem that want “all of us” to be Commander in Chief’s for carrying their narrative to blame “islamic” practitioners. And Trump is their main cheerleader this week.

    • Okay. So religion has nothing to do with the Islamic State’s beliefs?

      Do you work for the White House or something?

    • Mark, what is the main, (glaring) difference between the conception of God in Christianity and Islam, do you know? Chris, what has happened to the 3rd suspect…?

  2. 4 Nathalie Leclercq

    Thanks for this thoughtful blog post. As you can see from the first comment you received, you are right in assuming that a lot of people are in total denial of the facts. It’s not the poor and oppressed who are committing terrorist acts. If that were the case, all terrorist acts in Europe would be committed by gypsies (they’re the only ones to have a reason to hate Western society). Traditional lefties tend to think that we’re the problem, that Islamic terrorism is a challenge and a chance for us to change our behavior. As long as we’re blaming ourselves for the self-destruction of the Middle-East, we’re not doing anything to solve the problem. Here in Europe, we haven’t even started fighting terrorism.

  3. 5 tierlieb

    Dear Chris, a great comparison and excellent analysis. Nothing new there, you have yet to disappoint my rather high expectations.

    If I were to look for anything to criticize, it would be that you have not pointed out how to react to this threat.

    I understand that this is not the point of the article, but well, I’m from Germany. The reaction of the European Union was to acknowledge the threat as such and then try to push another ban on semi-automatic rifles in civilian hands. That came as a surprise (especially because I got my newest AK and a long-awaited vz58 delivered in the same week as the proposal came up…)

    So I would like to point out that acknowledging the threat is important, but the necessary consequences do not seem as clear as I expected them to be. And I am hoping for an article of yours that explains that shooting bad people in the face is a good thing and, while not a total, then at least a partial solution. 😉

  4. 6 Yrro

    I think analogizing ISIS to the KKK or similar helped me make a lot of sense out of it. ISIS is definitely informed by a perversion of Islamic principles, just as the KKK was informed by Christian principles. There are a bunch of Christians who think the KKK is despicable. But there were enough who silently condoned it or whose views were close enough to it to create new recruits.

    We don’t need to attack Islam. Islam isn’t the problem. But ISIS and Al Qaida are built out of Islam, and they are a problem.

    I don’t think either is worth sacrificing all of our freedoms for, and I’m leery about solving the problem by going to war given our previous levels of success at nation-building, but that doesn’t mean we should ignore them/try so damn hard to pretend they aren’t something they are.

    Best strategy I’ve heard is that we need to convince the rest of the Muslim world to denounce not just their terrorist acts, but their entire corrupted strain of Islam. Make the recruits not quite so sure about whether they’re going to heaven.

  5. 7 Callmelennie

    Your Lebanese Muslim friend is what I would call a MINO (Muslim in Name Only) For one thing, she is married to a non Muslim man, a serious no no in Muslim practice, almost on the level of apostasy. A Muslim man can marry a woman of any faith, as the children will presumably follow the father’s faith

    OTOH, if the father is Christian it will be assumed that the children of a Muslim woman will also be Christian — which is anathema in Islam. This would never be allowed anywhere in the Islamic ummah.

  6. 8 Priscilla

    What a disclaimer, we certainly wouldn’t want you asking any questions as a devout Christian conservative who despises Islam! That would make you a stereotypical bigot.

  7. 9 Armchair Command'oh

    Regarding your comparison in the introduction, I think the concern about police corruption goes beyond just the bad cops. I believe that a large part of it is the belief that even the otherwise good cops out there tend to let the bad cops slide.

    While I believe that the vast majority of police officers are good guys, if I were unlawfully hassled/roughed-up by one of the few bad ones, I’m not at all confident that the second cop on the scene would back my side of the story. He might break it up and tell the bad cop to cool it, but I don’t think the whole truth would make it into the report. With Muslims, we don’t see the non-radical ones covering up for the terrorists.

    • 10 tierlieb

      @Armchair Command’oh

      That is a good distinction to make, yet I am not sure that we do not see this kind of “covering up” by non-radicals, too. This, of course, is a question of personal perception: What amounts to covering up, what does not?

      How about not reporting someone for…
      * building bombs?
      * learning to build bombs?
      * lending monetary support to a terrorist group/radical school/moderate school with radical staff members?
      * justifying terrorist actions in the public/only among like-minded people/only at home?
      * following the interpretations of a radical imam?
      * going to a mosque known for radical interpretations?
      * staying at the local mosque even though the imam has been radicalized?
      * pointing out that al-Baghdadi is right on many theological positions?
      * going to a radical/moderate koran school?
      * reading Inspire magazine?
      * reposting radical positions on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram?
      * ignoring other people in your network reposting radical positions?

      Which of these points are equivalent of just telling your cop colleague “to cool it” instead of reporting them?

      • 11 Armchair Command'oh

        Tierlieb,

        I see your point, but my intent was more to illustrate where I think the mistrust with police comes from. For me, I get more angry from a cover-up than from the initial wrongdoing. I think this is because if a civilian were to violate my rights, I could fight back, but with a cop, I can’t. We, as a society, have agreed to give cops special protection. But that means when a cop misbehaves, our only recourse is to endure the abuse and trust that the system will make it right in the end. When we see a good cop massage the report to protect his college, it is infuriating because there is now nothing we can do to correct the injustice. I understand that there will always be bad cops, but I will only tolerate that so long as I still trust that the system will make things right for me in the end.

        Bringing this back to your post, I think a lot of the things on your list would fall on a spectrum of warning signs. Obviously, some warning signs are so great that they require reporting (e.g. building bombs), others would be more context driven. With police, I was talking about protecting a cop who has already harmed another. I think the warning sign analogy for police would be the cop who has anger management issues, but hasn’t yet snapped. In those cases, it is certainly more grey.

  8. 12 Paul Hartshorn

    Yet again Chris you have hit the nail on the head, it is not only in your country that the government continue to make excuses that the majority of Muslims are peaceful yet ignore the fact that a small number account for incidents way out of proportion to there number, have you ever thought of running for office?

  9. Islam is not a religion and calling it one does nothing more then grant it a pass. Imagine if the Aryan Brotherhood started praying to some icon in the woods. Imagine them demanding that they be allowed to stop work and pray 5 times a day. Or that school children would visit their compounds and be taught white supremacy.Or that they wanted a holiday declared for one their founder’s BDs? Imagine that they carved up their women in some prevented ritual. Or that they believed that anyone not in their belief system was deserving of rape or death. Then imagine that the more “militant” elements were shooting up malls, theaters and schools.

    Do you think that they leaders of Aryan Brotherhood, by calling these militant elements, distorters of their religion, would escape a total government war on them? That everyone of their camps and compounds would be destroyed and everyone of them would be in prison or dead?

    Yet this exact same thing is what happens with Islam. There may be a small percentage of militant moslims but even allowing this pervasion to exist in this country gives these militants an ocean to swim in.

    There will never be peace in this country with Islam allowed here. Period. I’m glad you’ve had good experiences with moslims, both here and overseas but the fact is, there are millions of them that are directed by their perverted “religion” to either convert us or force us to submit or kill us.

    There’s a large part of the world where they can live and have their sharia law, FGM, honor killings, gay murders and all the rest of the Koran that they want. Let them live there-if they stay out of our shit, which realistically you know ain’t gonna happen, fine. If not, the black rock goes and down the list we proceed. It is not compatible with western culture and traditions and IT NEVER HAS BEEN for over 1400 years. Sheeesh dude, grab a history book. It’s all about conquest and submission, what part of that don’t you get?

    All vestiges of Islam need to be removed from America. All non citizens need to be immediately deported. Every mosque need to be closed-the FBI recently reported that over 90% of mosques are engaged in promoting jihad. All moslim immigration needs to be immediately halted. FOREVER. Over 25% of moslims residing here think violent jihad against us infidels is acceptable. How many more Dearborns do you want? have you taken notice of what’s happened in Sweden? In GB? In Germany? France? HTF do you think that won’t happen here when the moslims THEMSELVES declare this is exactly what’s in store for us?????

    Of course this won’t be done. You can bet your ass there are US moslim citizens right now, plotting some how, someway to kill 1,000s of us. Nukes, poison, dirty bomb, Beslan, something and you know it. Like they used to say in GB, the IRA only had to be successful once but the British had to be successful every time.

    • 14 Joe in PNG

      There are a few problems with the “X is not a real religion, thus not protected under the First Amendment” argument.

      1) What legal entity makes the distinction?

      2) Can you then trust the government to go on to determine that your beliefs are not covered by the First Amendment?

      3) Would you want Hillary to be the person making the determination of what is and what is not acceptable as a Religion under the First Amendment?

      Truth is, the bigger threat is not that of very rare attacks by radical Islamist. The bigger threat is citizens giving up their rights for a false sense of security.

      For instance, would a total gun ban make us more secure? No, it would not.

      • 15 MM

        I apologize for the delay in getting back to you-holidays and such.

        1) What legal entity makes the distinction? Look past any legal entities. Look to basic Judeo-Christian morals. Are you trying to say that commonly accepted tenets of Islam are compatible with western civ? Do I need a SC to tell me that throwing homos off high building is wrong?? I think there is no such thing as homo marriage but I don’t believe those that do merit a death sentence.

        2) Can you then trust the government to go on to determine that your beliefs are not covered by the First Amendment? Since you’ve started from a false premise, this question is irrelevant.

        3) Would you want Hillary to be the person making the determination of what is and what is not acceptable as a Religion under the First Amendment? Of course not but again, you’ve built this question on a pile of false assumptions. I don’t want anyone like Hillary involved with any part of our government, she has committed over 2 dozen felonies at State and is a life long liar.

        I don’t know what you’re trying to say with your last statement. Islam in America now presents a very real threat to our culture and traditions. Islam needs to be totally removed from this country, it’s like cancer.

  10. Mr. Hernandez,

    First of all, I want to thank you for providing a place for people to discuss these vital issues. I was extremely impressed with your take on the Andrew Thomas killing. Too many cops posting on the internet excuse that inexcusable killing.

    Now, as for the issue at hand here: I’m as liberal as it gets, and I believe that there is a terrible problem with police violence, and police culture is a major factor. A relatively few cops maul or kill people. But a lot of cops will back the ones who do. Those charged with overseeing the police can usually be counted on to back the cops who brutalize or kill people. It happens all the time.

    I also know that only a relatively few Muslims will murder innocent civilians. And I also know that hundreds of millions of Muslims approve of and support those who do. I know that many Muslim governments and NGO’s, including charities, provide material support for Jihadi murderers.

    I know a lot of liberals who feel exactly as I do.

    Sometimes, when I’m on the subway and a Middle Eastern looking guy gets on the platform or the train, I realize that I can’t tell if he’s just a guy on his way or a fanatic about to make history. It’s unnerving. If I get even the slightest idea that it’s the latter, I get off the train or leave the station. Really. I live in New York and I was here that day. Watching that tore a hole in my soul.

    I don’t let political correctness BS keep me from considering the danger that some Muslims pose.

    By the same token, after seeing so many videos over the last two years of cops hurting and killing people, I realize that I can’t tell if the cop coming towards me is just a cop who’s protecting me or if he’s one of those who, if he finds some pretext, will hurt or even kill me. I get away from him if I get the slightest idea he’s taking any interest in me.

    I don’t let either set of feelings rule my life. I love life in New York. I have Muslim friends. I have relatives who are cops.

    I don’t like worrying that cops or Muslims I don’t know may be dangerous, but that’s the world I live in.

    I know a lot of liberals who feel exactly as I do.

    Thanks again. Peace, dude.

    • 17 MM

      That’s called moral relativism and I think you’re out of your GD mind to equate Islam with police.

      Unbelievable. Thank the NEA for your bone headed idiocy.

      • I don’t equate them, but I can see how you got the idea from my post.

        Let me clarify: Jihadist Islam is an organized intent to commit murder which is supported by hundreds of millions of Muslims.

        Police violence, while not an organized intent to harm and murder, all too frequently is not punished. The perpetrators usually are protected by the local authorities, the police unions, and the PD itself.

        My main point is that, while most Muslims and most cops are moral and decent people, a disturbing number aren’t and I can’t easily tell the difference. Sometimes, if something about a cop or a Muslim gives me a bad feeling, I get away from them. I may be wrong about that specific cop or Muslim, but I’d rather be wrong than right and hurt terribly or killed.

        I don’t like saying that. But that’s where I and a lot of people are.

  11. 19 Rob Clasen

    Chris, you’re dead on except you’re again grossly under stating the radical muslims at 195,000,000 it’s more like 650,000,000
    Anyone who agrees with sometime honor killings are justified, and says sharia law should be the law of the land is a radical.


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