In our digital age, we need a new word to describe the person we have unequivocally witnessed committing mass murder. To call Sayfullo Saipo a “suspect” is misleading - only one person was in the driver’s seat of the truck that sped down the west side highway, running over cyclists and pedestrians, ultimately killing eight and wounding at least eleven. He is seen on video exiting the truck after crashing it into a schoolbus, waving weapons and getting shot. Or, to be consistent, must we call the policeman the “suspected shooter”, compounding the lunacy of not spelling out what our eyes have seen. The only thing that remains unknown is under which category of slaughter Saipov will eventually be found guilty, but reading and hearing all the reporters continually refer to him as “the suspect” is a dishonor to the victims and their loved ones.
The other phrase we need to lose is “or the terrorists will win.” When multiple people die and are maimed in a savage attack, terrorists have won. Celebrating at a parade will not diminish the sorrow and agony of the victims’ survivors nor should it relieve any of us of whatever guilt we accrue by turning a blind eye to the obvious. Our police department prides itself on its outreach program to truck rental companies in the tri-state area, alerting them to the need for background checks on possible terrorists who want to turn trucks into murder weapons. This modus operandi has succeeded in killing 130 people and injuring close to 200 since 2016. Well, an immigrant from Uzbekistan walks into Home Depot in New Jersey with a swarthy complexion, a full bushy beard, a Muslim name of Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov, requesting a short term rental of a truck - what was missing from this profile that dissuaded the dispatcher from informing the counter-terrorism division that had done the outreach? Either John Miller, head of this division, has over-estimated its efficacy or we have been so brainwashed by the media that legitimate suspicion and profiling are considered Islamophobic. Perhaps the person who handled the rental was more anxious about his being called that than about the chance of a terrorist incident. That possibility should make us all ashamed that we have abandoned logic in favor of what began as an Islamic public-relations campaign after 9/11.
Profiling is not an act of discrimination; it is the means by which law enforcement aims to anticipate and minimize future criminal acts. It is based on analysis of past acts and behavior and is analogous to what a smart doctor does when she takes a history of your family background. If you are black and have a higher risk of sickle cell anemia, you don’t call your doctor racist for factoring that into her diagnosis. If you are Jewish, you get tested for the brca gene for breast cancer as an act of precaution, not prejudice. If 3,000 New Yorkers were killed on 9/11 in the name of Allah, we can never be called Islamophobic for worrying that other jihadists abound with similar motives. Sadly, some of our movers and shakers have succeeded in shaming us for this understandable , appropriate anxiety.
Finally, why didn’t our governor and mayor initiate a somber few minutes of silence at the outset of the Halloween parade to acknowledge the tragedy that had occurred less than a mile away. Grandstanding that we need to carry on with our jollity or the terrorists will win ignores a more powerful message. The terrorists don’t win when remember our humanity, exhibit grief at senseless violence and show our compassion for innocent victims in our own home town.
Have PoliticalMavens.com delivered to your inbox in a daily digest by clicking here