I don’t habitually give much thought to the goings-on in distant and savage lands. To do so would be to fill my days needlessly with tales and anguish and woe, and I have better things to do. I generally pause to reflect on events closer to home — Europe and America — but I write today on the café attack in Bangladesh because it took place in what was meant as an outpost of home: a twee-sounding place called the Holey Artisan Bakery, with European diners as its target.
Let me open, then, with my usual prayer: May God have mercy on the souls of the dead, and bring healing to the injured and comfort to the bereaved.
When asking who is responsible for this latest atrocity we must, as good-thinking, law-abiding, upstanding citizens of liberal democracies, first and foremost lay blame at the feet of the Irish. For reasons discussed at length elsewhere, to entertain any other possibility would be evil and Racist and transphobic and Islamophobic and quite possibly an inadvertent vote for The Most Dangerous Man in the World (as identified by the Germans without a trace of irony): Donald Trump.
So we should move quickly past the inconsequential questions of which group is responsible and how we should view such a group. After all, all humans are the same inside. It’s only the malign influence of “white privilege” that causes members of some groups to do bad things. Muslims are the same as Catholics are the same as Jews are the same as Bhuddists are the same as Scots are the same as Nigerians are the same as Mexicans, no matter what the wildly varying levels of crime, development, education, happiness and health among these groups would suggest. No matter who did this, it’s the fault of the White Man and his Invisible Knapsack.
So let us focus on the important thing: the hardware that causes these atrocities. After the Orlando nightclub massacre, President Obama identified the main way to prevent the “next heartbreak” of this sort: banning assault weapons. With that in mind, the more curious readers may be tempted to ask as to the status of the gun laws in Bangladesh, and the more enterprising readers may have already surmised that all types of firearms are comprehensively regulated, licensed and registered in that country. And those with a morbid bent may have surmised that the worst of the atrocities committed in Bangladesh were done with blades, not guns.
Loose gun laws, strict gun laws, knife attacks, bomb attacks, car-ramming attacks… I just can’t figure out what the pattern is here. But the President assures me that the way to prevent further attacks is to restrict access to certain inanimate tools, so it must be true. That’s the only way to stay safe.
And heinous as the crimes were, I must complement the Irish attackers for their focus on ironically erudite trivia. They are reported to have asked the hostages to “recite verses from the Quran,” which apparently is an obscure religious text venerated by a peace-loving people who dwelt in Arabia long ago. Those hostages who loved peace and recondite trivia as much as their Irish hosts were free to go. But woe betide the warlike and godless among the hostages, unable to recite such ancient verses, like 80 year old Hiroshi Tanaka who came to Bangladesh from Japan on an aid mission to improve the railways. Such deserving souls were hacked to death with machetes.
But President Obama’s lesson remains clear: We must have strict laws against assault weapons if we are to prevent café patrons from being stabbed to death in the future. Obviously.