Stop playing politics with school shootings

omething remarkable, and disturbing, has happened in the discussion about mass violence in recent years. Observers increasingly devote themselves to depoliticising acts of Islamist terror and to politicising mass school shootings. They downgrade Islamist-inspired slaughter, actively discouraging any kind of political, far less passionate reaction to such violence, and they upgrade school shootings, always insisting that we make them political, that we engage our passions in response to them, that we call them by the right word: ‘terrorism’. They drain the politics from what are clearly political acts of mass murder while injecting political meaning into what are clearly not political acts of murder. This is not only peculiar – it is positively dangerous.

We have seen this warped pattern repeat itself following the Florida school shooting. Almost instantly the cry went up from liberal observers that we should call this terrorism. After all, school shootings terrorise people. ‘The Florida school shooter is a racist terrorist’ – why won’t more people ‘call him that?’, asked one commentator (on the basis of claims that the shooter, Nikolas Cruz, has racist views). Slate says we must upgrade school shootings to a ‘national security threat’. Others demand that the White House declare war on this kind of ‘terrorism’ as seriously as they declared war on al-Qaeda after 9/11 – if not more seriously, given school shootings are more common in the US than Islamist terror attacks are.

All the things observers frown upon, and even demonise as a species of ‘racism’, in the aftermath of an Islamist terror attack suddenly become acceptable in the wake of a school shooting. So anyone who spoke of ‘Muslim men’ as a problem after the barbarism in Paris in 2015, or Brussels in 2016, or Westminster Bridge, London Bridge and the Manchester Arena in 2017, was…