Days after the world was shocked by the bloody massacre in Paris, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter told reporters that the daily gun violence claiming lives everyday in America was really no different from the Islamic terrorism seen Friday.
“Domestic terrorism is international terrorism,” he said after a meeting with Attorney General Loretta Lynch in Washington, D.C. “There is really no level of distinction between the violence that goes on in the streets of America on a daily basis and the episodic acts of international terrorism that also take place, primarily in cities.”
As far as Democrats go, Nutter is far from the worst of them. He’s cleaned up Philadelphia’s streets considerably since taking office, he’s focused his efforts on reducing black-on-black violence, and he hasn’t done anything too foolish in the name of social justice.
On the other hand, though, Nutter did sign an executive order last year that turned Philadelphia into a Sanctuary city for illegal immigrants. So, you know, Democrats are going to Democrat.
“Citizens around the world feel unsafe because of international terrorists. Those same feelings exist for many in our communities,” Nutter said. “These criminals are terrorizing our citizens and that same level of fear of violence, the death of citizens, the destruction of property, are the same. In many cities across the United States of America on a weekend, you very well could have six, eight, 10 people shot.”
Actually, what Nutter is saying is not terribly off the mark, and he’s a damn sight closer to the bullseye than most politicians in his party. Of course, he is a mayor, and Democrats seem to get more and more ridiculous with each successive layer of power they achieve.
But let’s not get carried away. Yes, we should be doing more to reduce the level of criminal violence in our cities. But we’re not going to do that by punching the Hyperbole Button and making comparisons that exceed reality. Terrorism is a word with meaning. Drug dealers and gangsters and thieves are not seeking a political goal. They are doing what they think they have to do to survive. They aren’t trying to stir up fear in the population. Excepting those who are actually mentally ill, 90% of these criminals would stop committing crime tomorrow if they won the lottery. Well, at least until their money ran out. The same cannot be said for ISIS members, many of whom are quite rich already.
Why does this distinction matter? Well, because the solution for one is not the solution for the other. The State Department last year proposed that we could defeat Islamic terrorism by providing more jobs to the Middle East. That’s utterly ridiculous. But you can defeat crime in Philadelphia, New York City, and Baltimore with this tactic.
Unfortunately, opportunity only matters if people choose to take advantage of it. And we have created an entitlement culture where every American thinks they deserve to be rich, powerful, and famous. Worse, a culture that fools people into thinking that this the only way a human being can be happy. And worst of all, a culture that erodes our patience. We don’t just want to be rich. We want to be rich right now. We pay lip service to the old money can’t buy happiness adage, but we don’t really believe it.
Until we embrace a cultural message that tells us we can be as happy in a small apartment as we can in the world’s largest mansion, our crime problem is going to get worse. And, ironically, when we realize that happiness is not found in the stuff we get but rather the stuff we do, the wealth often follows as a fringe benefit.