We Are In Battle, Patriots

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Terry Jackson guards a recruiting station in Cleburne, Texas. Photo by Rose Baca/AP

Nobody knows yet what prompted Kuwait-born Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez to shoot and kill five people last week at a Chattanooga, Tenn. Navy support center last week; investigators have found no formal ties to overseas terrorist groups, and his family has said he was troubled and possibly suffering from mental illness. Still, the owner of Florida Gun Supply - "Best Guns! Best Service!" - has the perfect, zealous response anyway: Declare his store a “Muslim-free zone.” In a florid, now-viral video whose goal was to "offend as many people as I could," Andy Hallinan says he's banning Muslims because "I will not arm or train those who wish to do harm to my fellow patriots.”

Backed by a huge Confederate flag - "This flag represents nothing but the rich heritage of the South” - and facing an evidently problematic camera, Hallinan nonetheless forcefully proclaims he has “a moral and legal responsibility to ensure the safety of all patriots in my community" in response to "the latest attack by an Islamic Extremist." Citing "changes to the way we are impacting our community (to) make America a safer place to live," he says he will ban Muslims from his store, as well as offer free conceal carry classes and open his shooting range to the public "so citizens can be properly trained to carry daily." He goes on, “We are in battle, patriots, but not only with Islamic extremism. We’re also in battle against extreme political correctness that threatens our lives, because if we can’t call evil, evil for fear of offending people, then we can’t really defeat our enemies.”

Some of his perceived enemies, members of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), are unhappy enough with the video they took the radical extremist action of filing a complaint with the Department of Justice, declaring, "These bigoted declarations are no different than ‘whites only’ signs posted in businesses during a period of our nation’s history that we had hoped was over.” Others were at pains to note that, statistically, the 37 Muslim-Americans known to have targeted others pale before the 190,000 plain old - almost exclusively white male - Christian Americans who shoot people, and that Hallinan's argument that more armed people equals less crime is, in fact, entirely bogus and long discredited by research.

Still, Hallinan is following a fine American tradition: Fear and ban those seen as "others," and when in doubt, use violence against them. Notes Charles Pierce, "Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez was every bit an American... He had a problem he could not solve and, being an American, he reached for that most American of solutions. He reached for a gun." Thus do we now have scores of righteous brawny gun-toting volunteers showing up to guard unarmed-by-law military recruiters at stations across the country - even though at least the Marines have asked them not to. Citing "civic pride," some belong to private militias; others use the moniker "Operation Hero Guard." "We're here to serve and protect," said Clint Janney in Ohio. "What the government won't do, we will do." But some residents remain wary of so many armed yahoos in their midst; said one, "You just don't know their state of mind." Alas, we kinda do.

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