The More You Know

Steve Kerr is the coach of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors. He also played for seven different NBA teams including championship teams in Chicago and San Antonio. He still holds the career record for highest percentage of 3-pointers made at 45.4%.

Kerr is also an ardent gun prohibitionist and has lent his name to the Brady Campaign for fundraising. Indeed, I just got an email from Brady yesterday featuring him.

Here are parts of it.

John – as a young man, Steve Kerr thought bad things happened to other people – that his life was impenetrable, and that his family was immune to everything. Steve was consumed by basketball, but his life changed forever instantly when his father was senselessly shot and murdered outside his office.
That’s why Steve is working with Brady to elect gun safety champions. He knows that preventing pain and devastation for thousands of families across the country depends on stopping Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump’s inaction on gun violence.

Now you may be thinking that Kerr’s dad was the victim of a robbery or a school shooting given he was murdered outside his office.

And you would be wrong.

Kerr’s father, Professor Malcolm Kerr was a political scientist whose specialty was the Middle East. He had taught at the American University of Beirut. Professor Kerr continued his career at UCLA where he went on to become chairman of the political science department and then dean of the division of social sciences. Then in 1982 he returned to the American University of Beirut as its president.

I should note here that the Kerr family had a long history in Lebanon with both Steve and his father Malcolm being born in Beirut. Steve’s grandparents like his father had been affiliated with the American University of Beirut. AUB has traditionally been considered one of the best universities in the Middle East and North African region outside of Israel.

When Malcolm Kerr took the presidency of the American University of Beirut, Lebanon was still in the throes of its civil war which lasted from 1975 until 1990. Israel had invaded Lebanon in 1982 to wipe out the PLO and the Marine Barracks in Beirut was bombed in late 1983. The American Embassy had been hit with a car bomb a few months earlier in 1983 killing 63.

1980s Beirut was a dangerous place with Maronite Christians, Druze, Sunni Muslims, and Shiite Muslims all vying for power. You could throw in the Palestinians, the Syrians, and the Iranians into the mix as well for good measure. If you were an American or other westerner in Beirut, you were a target. Kidnappings were rife along with murders and assassinations.

Professor Malcolm Kerr was just such a target as he was the head of one of the most prestigious institutions affiliated with America in Lebanon. On January 19, 1984, two gunmen fired two shots into the back of his head from a silenced pistol as he walked to his office.

As the New York Times reported on Kerr’s assassination at the time:

Soon after the killing of the 52-year- old educator, a male caller telephoned the Beirut office of Agence France- Presse and said the slaying was the work of Islamic Holy War – supposedly a pro-Iranian underground group.

Callers saying they were from Islamic Holy War took responsibility for bombing the American Embassy in Beirut last April 18 and the attack against the Marine compound here on Oct. 23. But the police have no evidence that the group actually exists. Dr. Kerr’s assailants escaped after the attack.

‘We Are Responsible’

The Islamic Holy War caller told Agence France-Presse in Arabic: ”We are responsible for the assassination of the president of the American University of Beirut, who was a victim of the American military presence in Lebanon. We also vow that not a single American or Frenchman will remain on this soil.”

The group who killed Kerr was called Islamic Jihad at the time. Now we know them as Hezbollah. There were ties to Iran as well which actually led the Kerr family to sue Iran in 2001.

The assassination of Malcolm Kerr was a targeted act of political terrorism. Hezbollah assassins just as easily could have used a car bomb, a knife, or a rope to murder him. It was only an “act of gun violence” (sic) because the assassins used a handgun. No amount of gun control or gun prohibition could have prevented this act of state-sponsored terrorism.

There is no correlation between the targeted political assassination of Professor Kerr and your garden variety murder or shooting in the United States. The death of Professor Kerr was a tragedy on both a personal and national level. That said, a contribution to the Brady Campaign is not going to end murders in the United States nor will it stop state-sponsored terrorism in the Middle East. The Brady Campaign knows that and one would hope that Steve Kerr knows that as well.

It is sad that Steve Kerr lost his father to a political assassination. It is even sadder that he is using that event to push an unrelated political agenda in the United States.


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