This video may not tell us much about Faisal Hussain as an individual, but it does touch on what lies behind his rampage two days ago, so watch and listen carefully.
There’s been a spate of the usual far-right shriekers blaming Faisal Hussain’s murderous (and probably suicidal) gun rampage in the Danforth Avenue neighborhood of Toronto, popularly known as Greektown. And no doubt those same fascistic trolls will be all over the fact that Hussein’s brother, who likely procured the handgun the shooter used, was in a gang. No doubt the usual racist arguments against immigration (and specifically, that of Muslim refugees) will be trotted out.
But those trolls are idiots who like to reach for the easiest, most convenient, and predictably wrong “answers” to the question of what’s behind this. They’re all too happy to blame ethnicity and religion for this rampage, disregarding the fact that a quarter of the Earth’s population is Muslim, and most of them are not running around playing a deranged live-action shooter game on the streets of their cities, towns and villages. Most of them, in fact, are just doing what the denizens of Greektown were on the night of the rampage: chatting, working, playing, eating. That’s a billion and a half people around the world, just being people: living life, abiding by the laws of their land, just as the imams of their mosques tell them to do.
Canada’s Muslims have actually voted AGAINST Sharia law, even if only to be used in divorce arbitration, citing instead a preference for existing Canadian law. And there has been a distinct paucity of “Islamism”-related terrorism and crime on the part of Muslims in general. The few such incidents we’ve had are outliers; the norm is that Muslims are fitting in just fine behaviorally, even if they don’t always blend in visually. They are not out to overrun us; they show no signs of wanting to overthrow us. The phantom of the polygamous Muslim warlord, coming in as a false refugee to “outbreed” the whites and then enslave them, is just that: a phantom. A figment of the overheated, sex-obsessed fascist imagination. The reality is that outside of a few superficial differences, the average Canadian Muslim lives just like the average other Canadian. There is, in other words, NO sound reason to bar them from coming here.
So no, we don’t have a Muslim problem. And we don’t have an immigrant problem, either. So, what is our problem?
In a word, it is CONSERVATISM.
It was conservatives who abolished our federal long-gun registry, leading to an explosion in gun importation — and with it, gun crimes. It is conservatives now looking to undermine other gun laws and regulations as well. It is also conservatives who keep squawking about a need to “find efficiencies” by cutting healthcare and welfare funding, who close down urgently needed hospitals, and who have pushed mental health so far onto the back burner that it’s about to fall off the stove altogether. They talk big and tough about policing, but the only kind that really interests them is the kind that’s about keeping activists from protesting the hot mess of incipient fascism we’re living in: riot policing, kettling, carding, restriction of speech and movement. They want a police state to restrict the movements of people, but they don’t want anyone or anything to restrict the movement of guns!
Which leads us nicely to Faisal Hussain, and how he became the latest casualty of all this conservatism. Had we an adequate system of hospitals, including mental ones, he’d probably still be alive today; institutionalized, maybe, and possibly incurable, but at least safely off the streets, away from gangs and guns, and no danger to anyone else OR himself. But there was no help available to him. Mental hospitals have been shuttered across Ontario since the mid-1990s, and healthcare funding to mental health services has seen cut after cut after deadly cut. There’s practically nothing left for the likes of him to fall back on. Mental patients were literally thrown onto the street when Mike Harris’s Tories cut both healthcare AND welfare funding. That money has not since been restored, and no new hospitals have opened. The money for mental healthcare went away, but the mentally ill did not go away along with it. So the system failed Faisal Hussain even before he arrived in Canada. He needed asylum from his own mental problems, and did not get it.
What he got, instead, was a handgun…probably courtesy of his brother, a gang member, who’s currently in a coma. And the ease with which his brother acquired it points to another problem, one that also traces back to conservatism: straw purchasing by legal gun owners, who then resell the guns to people who shouldn’t be getting them. Gang members, for instance. Or mentally unstable types, like Faisal Hussain.
The oft-heard cry from the right that if guns are legally regulated, only criminals will have guns, is officially a lie. So-called law-abiding gun owners turn criminal all the time. They do so whenever they resell or lend their legally purchased guns to those who have no legal rights to them. The loosening of gun laws in this country has not led to the “polite society” the right likes to envision; it has led the other way altogether, to turf wars between gun-running gangs, and to the militarization of the biggest gun-gang of all, the police.
In short, conservatism has been a perfect storm of epic policy failures. And the winds of the eyewall are the deranged shooters who run amuck on the streets, wreaking brief havoc before either committing suicide by cop or by their own hands. The damage left in the storm’s wake are the memorials to the innocent victims of mass shooters. We pick up the debris, sure, and do what we can to clean up and patch up. But until we rebuild our society, and rebuild it better, we should not only expect to see more casualties, but also more storms…and worse ones, too.