I must admit when I first heard about the bombing at the Boston Marathon I was hoping that the perpetrators were a couple of loner white guys.
Or a couple of loner Asian guys.
Or a couple of loner black guys.
Basically, a couple of loner anything-but-a-Muslim guys.
While I was hoping that, I also jumped to the same conclusion that a vast majority of other Americans did – that it was a couple of Muslim guys.
And, of course, that’s the way it turned out.
The reason I was hoping for the anyone-but-a-Muslim scenario is because it seems the government tends not to overreact quite so much when heinous acts are committed by people other than Muslims.
Remember the federal building bomber? He killed 168 men, women and children. Remember the  Asian guy who shot up the university in Virginia? He killed 32 people. Then there was the guy who shot a Congresswoman and a few others. And the guy who shot up the movie theater in Colorado with an assault weapon.
I don’t recall politicians lining up behind significant new legislation or policy with regard to any of those incidents. It’s like lawmakers just kind of shrug and say, “Well, that’s really tragic, but things like this happen.”
Now, after the kid shot up the elementary school with an assault weapon, things were a little different. Mainly, because the political calendar was a little farther along. By that I mean that President Obama, having been re-elected to a second term, had nothing to lose by pushing for some new gun laws.
He could have pushed for new gun laws after the guy shot up the Colorado movie theater, but that was before the November 2012 election.
So lawmakers – the president included – just did the usual hand-wringing, decried the violence and expressed deep sorrow and concern for the victims. (This is not to say their concern for the victims isn’t genuine. I am sure it is.)
But, as you may recall, there was not a peep about new gun laws. That could have cost those guys some votes.
Wind the clock ahead a few months to Sandy Hook. With the election behind us, there was a huge push for new gun laws, which – after tons of high-profile lobbying by the president and family members of victims – failed.
Banning assault weapons and high-cap mags never even made it into the legislation. Mainly, the bill was about requiring universal background checks. And even though the vast majority of voters – in the range of 90 percent in multiple polls – were in favor of those background checks, the law still failed to pass.
That’s because it’s all about politics.
So, generally, when anybody but a Muslim does heinous stuff, nothing monumental happens in Washington unless it’s politically expedient, which it rarely is.
But when Muslims do bad things, there’s no political calculation. There’s no political penalty. It’s go time.
Want to start a couple of wars? Torture people? Do a little warrantless wiretapping? How about putting up surveillance cameras all over the place? Establish giant new keep-us-safe bureaucracies like the Transportation Safety Administration and the Department of Homeland Security?
Certainly, there was some resistance to some of that stuff, but not enough to keep it from happening. Not enough to keep it from passing Congress.
I am not arguing that some – or all, for that matter – of those steps weren’t necessary.
What I am arguing is that lots of other necessary steps on lots of other issues don’t get taken simply because lawmakers fear the political consequences.
I know it’s too much to ask, but I wish lawmakers would act on the merits of an issue instead of on the liklihood of political fallout.