The lethal gun rampage at Oikos University in Oakland, California, on Monday was a horrific tragedy, mind-numbing in its incomprehensibility for the seven victims’ families and for anyone connected to the school. Secular Right sends its condolences to the community.
The Oikos shooting is just the latest in a series of school and workplace rampages over the last several years, none of which were committed by Muslims. If a Muslim had in fact pulled the trigger, the country’s police departments would be on high alert, the aviation system hunkered down even further. Why? What is the difference? Last December and January, a disgruntled young German almost brought Los Angeles to its knees with a set of arson attacks on cars in the Hollywood area. It appears that it is not all that difficult to inflict group violence and collective fear in this country. If the U.S. harbored even a handful of Muslim terrorists, presumably they would occasionally have taken advantage of that ease to wreak havoc themselves. The vast expenditures of the Department of Homeland Security, doled out to law enforcement agencies across the country for anti-terror equipment and training, presume just such a national threat. As the years go by without an Islamic terrorist incident on our soil, do we ever get to revise downward our assessment of the risk?
An Oikos student who was not killed in the rampage told the New York Times that she was frightened during the shooting, but added:
“I’m a Christian, and I believe God protects me.”
Why then didn’t he protect the seven victims? If solipsistic believers feel compelled to ask such questions—seeking the bare minimum of justice, which consists of treating likes alike and distinguishing unlikes, from their allegedly rational God–they don’t often let on. Unless this Christian survivor believes that she is more worthy of God’s protection than the seven victims, the usual answer to the question of why God didn’t protect the seven victims is that he did protect them—in his way. But surely that way was not what was meant by anyone who was praying for protection from the shooter.
Here’s another typical answer to the question of selective protection from yesterday’s Wall Street Journal:
when a prayer goes unanswered, God’s refusal springs from love rather than indifference.
i.e., God did not answer the undoubted prayers of the victims for protection out of love, rather than indifference. It is the fate of non-believers to look on such explanations as if across a vast and forever unbridgeable abyss.