How are families put at risk by the current state of affairs? While we always strive to avoid politics entirely, it’s been difficult to miss that there’s a significant and unwarranted backlash against Muslims – or against those perceived to be Muslim by people who apparently can’t tell the difference. How does that put your family at risk? Why is your neighbor’s risk your risk?
We read over and over again in the news about a mosque fire. They’re becoming more frequent, and they’re clearly intentionally set. The sort of person who would light a religious building on fire is not often the sort of person who would give much thought to the consequences of their actions, especially as they relate to people other than the intended target. These domestic terrorists who are lighting buildings on fire for no reason other than sheer hate are putting families across the nation at risk.
Yes, people who would burn down a house of worship are domestic terrorists. Even the vile, deceitful, hate-fueled Westboro Baptist Church has more sense than that. They’ll picket funerals, but they know exactly where their right to be offensive ends and the integrity of the rights of others begins.
Yes, America, the infamous Phelps family is now the voice of reason for our nation. Shouldn’t that make us all step back and consider things for a moment?
The latest Texas mosque fire was lit after Friday prayers, and CNN describes the building as “pretty much empty” at the time. Note that whomever set the building on fire did so while there were still people inside. “Pretty much empty” does not equate to empty, in any sense of the word. Someone set fire to a building with people in it. That building was part of a strip mall, which contained, among other things, an ice cream shop, a bookstore, and a pharmacy. All of those businesses would be busy on a Friday, and whomever set the fire was (or should have been) aware of the risk to patrons of the other business.
The person who started the fire apparently worked hard at it, as the ATF has described it as having “multiple points of origin.” Fires don’t just appear out of nowhere, and accidental fires do not, as a matter of course, start in multiple places at the same time. Someone set fire to a building containing people who were trying to worship and people who were trying to get their medications. The pharmacy also suffered smoke damage to their inventory, which could be a significant loss.
In light of the above, the person who started the fire acted in an arbitrary and capricious manner without a care in the world as to how anyone else would be affected by their actions. They didn’t just light a house of worship on fire, they knowingly took a significant risk of causing property damage, injury, and death to people who were in no way connected to the mosque. Apparently the risks to innocent bystanders was not relevant, so long as they caused the damage they were looking to cause.
Mosques are not always located in strip malls, sometimes they’re located in residential areas. Mosque fires are not the only things you have to be concerned about, either. Arson is a frequent crime, and it’s one of the go-to ways to “get back at” a former significant other. Setting an ex’s apartment on fire has always been a common crime. It’s not a smart one, of course, but setting anything at all on fire is rarely a smart idea.
There are people in the world filled with anger and hate who can see nothing else but those useless emotions. That anger and hate gets channeled into a fire, and before you know it your apartment building has burned to the ground. If you don’t think that it happens every single day, perhaps you should meet eight year old Safyre Terry, who lost her father and her younger siblings to an apartment fire started by an arsonist.
Solving the problem and stopping the mosque fires and apartment fires fueled by hate is a process that takes time, energy, and a great deal of understanding between people. It’s something that we as a nation are working on, and probably will have to continue to work on forever. There will likely always be people guided by hatred, and there will always be someone who is a victim of that hatred.
But so long as arson and other indiscriminate methods are the tools of choice to express that hatred, there will always be a risk to you, your property, your family, and your home from people who are too lazy or too ignorant to use their words to express themselves in the manner that they are Constitutionally guaranteed to be able to do. Two year olds can use their words, why can’t these people? That hatred puts you at risk every single day, and there’s little you can directly do to eliminate that risk, except to be part of fostering understanding.
Perhaps the most frightening part is that, while ignorant, the domestic terrorists who commit crimes like this are often not stupid people. Often they are smart and calculating, taking steps to make sure the fire spreads and researching the best time to create their desired effect. Stupid people get caught, and stupid people are more easily defended against. Smart terrorists are a concerning opponent, because they can’t just be outwitted.
As long as there is hate, and as long as people choose to express that hatred through acts of terrorism like setting fire to a mosque, there will be risk from that hatred. Protect your family. Know who belongs near your apartments, say something if you see suspicious activity, and consider renters insurance for your family. Insurance can’t replace the feeling of safety that’s taken from you by an apartment fire, but it does give you the ability to get you and your family out of a fire without worrying about your property, because it can be replaced.
As we enter a new year, we at Effective Coverage sincerely hope that those filled with anger and hate will choose to express those things by using their First Amendment rights, and that doing so will lead to a dialogue we all can live with. We would rather suffer the cacophony of a million angry bigots than witness one more act of violence or domestic terrorism.