Sometimes an event comes along that makes us tremble for what might be coming next.
The event, this time, was San Bernardino, California – 14 dead, all shot during a Christmas party. The killers were husband and wife, both identified as “devout Muslims,” which should not lead us to identify all Muslims as crazed radicals, but instantly gives new meaning to the word “devout.”
Devout used to mean piety. It does not mean that anymore. Nothing is the same anymore.
America, home of the brave, is not so brave at the moment. We live in fear, and for good reason. We don’t know who’s on our side.
That is fear of the worst kind. The Israelis know it elaborately but here in the US it is becoming a habit as well.
We fear the devout, there’s that, and we fear speaking our minds. That’s just as bad or may be worse.
We are not allowed to be angry. Privately, perhaps; but even the walls have ears.
We have been told that if we see something we’d better shut up about it or else we will be taken away for hate crimes. Our attorney general says so.
Our speech is being monitored. In Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s own words when she explained to Muslim leaders how she has their back: “We must make it clear that actions predicated on violent [anti-Islamic] talk are not American…They will be prosecuted.” [Goodbye First Amendment]
This is not the first time that we were a nation plunged in fear. But previously we knew the government was on our side. During the Cuban Missile Crisis, then too we did not know what’s coming next. Later when JFK was assassinated we thought our enemies were coming for all of us.
On September 11, 2001, 9/11, we were awakened to a world war that may well last a century. The devout had arrived.
But through all those crises we knew that the government was on our side. Not so this time.
Not so when we are warned that we’d better watch our language when it comes to the devout and in fact, the people next door to the San Bernardino killers – they suspected strangeness but were afraid to alert the authorities for fear of being reported as bigots…guilty of “violent talk,” as per our attorney general.
Anything that makes the devout feel uncomfortable will not be tolerated.
So 14 innocents died from an act of mindless bloodshed. Because Americans were afraid to speak.
In the UK, thousands of English girls and women have been raped, but have kept silent to protect themselves against charges of bigotry since most of the assailants are the devout from Pakistan and Afghanistan. The epidemic continues and parents who complain to the police are often arrested by the police for complaining.
But that’s England. This is America.
At the University of Michigan a Jewish student, Jesse Arm, is in trouble for speaking. He expressed himself against pro-Palestinian demonstrators on campus. What did he say? “You’re not serious with these [anti-Israel] signs here,” he said and was immediately flagged for “verbal abuse.”
Therefore chalk up a victory for free speech, but only if you belong to certain groups, like BDS and others who read from the same book.
Jews get no such edge.
Students at Iowa colleges (and elsewhere) are demanding “safe space” to pray five times a day.
The devout may not be inconvenienced and when they are they can count on being supported and comforted. When talk gets heated, as it has been about importing thousands of Syrian migrants, Democrats, like Rep. Don Beyer of Va., rush to the nearest mosque to express unity, solidarity, fellowship.
They go to assure worshippers that there are no hard feelings, come whatever, most likely even San Bernardino.
But when American student Ezra Schwartz was murdered in Israel at the hands of Devout Palestinian Arabs, it was different.
The record shows no such fellowship for Jews in mourning and in pain. There is no evidence of a single Democrat visiting a single synagogue.
Tolerance and free speech for some but not for others, this is the America we’ve inherited with our votes. There is hope. We do get one more chance to get it right but if we get it wrong, again, it may be our last chance and our grandchildren will pay the price for generations to come.
American novelist Jack Engelhard
writes a regular column for Israel National News. He is the author of “Indecent Proposal” and “The Bathsheba Deadline.”