Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Spies Like Us!


"May you live in interesting times." Yeah, not so much. With the remarkable and deadly attacks in San Bernadino, I feel we have crossed a  rubicon of sorts when it comes to the nature of how we American citizens intertact with one another. Now that "ISIS-Al Quaeda-Al Nusra-Whatever" (can you say "Eurasia / Eastasia") has successfully infected an actual American citizen who actually inflicted severe harm on innocent people inside our borders, we are no longer confined in our search for the enemy to those who slink across our venerated borders. Now we have to look askance at each and every one of us, but of course that's not true either. We will only look suspiciously on those of darker complexion who practice a particular religion, and dress a certain way, citizen or not. Despite evidence to the contrary by the way. We currently conflate the much overused "political correctness" with rank racism. Being under threat does not give anyone license to become a total putz.


I have no doubt that there are dangerous people inside this country who seek to do harm to the population to gain infamy for some grand political claim or other. The evidence is overwhelming. God forbid they gain access to nuclear material. But they have been with us forever and a day, but whereas once they were unreconstructed Confederates, Russian anarchists, German Bundists, Japanese Issei, then Red Chinese, and after that Middle Eastern something or other, the accused can often still be American citizens and are still shielded by the rights which are bestowed upon any citizen. We cannot forget that most important fact in our haste to drive from our midst the real threats which do exist. We must put those threats into perspective and take reasonable precautions to guard against attack, but never can we betray what it is to be an American, a land dedicated to individual liberties. We cannot sacrifice what we are in order to protect it.


We are encouraged these days to as they say, "say something" if we "see something". But what are we to look for -- men gathering at a diner, UPS deliveries, target practice. These are the very ordinary things which make up American life. I dread that we will become a nation of fearful prats looking for a scapegoat to shield us from our own cowardice. In a country which will not discuss limiting gun sales to people who are deemed too suspicious to fly on planes, nor restrict VISA applications for folks big business deems necessary but at the same time herd more poor refugees through yet more red-taped avenues, we should be careful not to fall victim to the fear-mongering which pummels us in what passes for modern media.


The fetid frenzy of news coverage which assaulted the popular senses when they were given access to the murderers' home this past weekend is just one example of the stampede which can occur so very swiftly when scared folk make decisions which should be left to cooler heads. Pitiful display of shoddy craftsmanship and smacking of the worst kind of yellow journalism. We must as a nation display more poise in the face of threat which is real but far far from existential, unless that harm is what we do to ourselves.


Yesterday was the anniversary of what a real and true threat to the nation looked like. We would do well to remember that.

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P.S. I wrote this piece before Donald Trump's most recent outrageous comments about forbidding further Muslim immigration into the United States. It is exactly this type of vile demagoguery which President Obama has tried to forestall by refusing to utter those words his critics demand of him, that we fight a full-blown world religion and not some spurious and deadly species hatred which uses religion to hide behind. Donald Trump has well and truly declared himself unfit to lead the United States. He is to be rebuked and rejected by his fellow Republicans, just as so many of them constantly cry for the Muslim community to reject the extremists in their ranks. What goes around, comes around.


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8 comments:

  1. And shooting up Planned Parenthood offices is no less terrorism. no less religious extremism, no less insane. There's no way to throw those guys out of the country, though it's tactically ridiculous and practically impossible to do even with any profiled minority that numbers in the millions. The reason why many want to look at gun restrictions is that it's a common denominator that is relatively do-able. The sheer blind ignorance of going after women's healthcare (even if it provides -legally- services that upset you ) is more than matched by a reluctance to pass laws restricting guns to people not even allowed to fly on planes. And if you don't think there are gun nuts that fit the definition of terrorist, look into the Militia movement. When you look at the actions of Congress, you might say the terrorists have won.

    One bit of hope in this, Rip, is that Trump has stated the logical extreme of this particular idiocy with such clarity that there is no mistaking what we're considering here. There is no subtle evasion, "dog whistle" or other below-the-radar political manipulation going on. He's attacking a minority for existing, pure and simple. I still have faith that a sizable majority will turn away from that, now that it's out in the open.

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    1. I do believe based on what I heard yesterday that he has crossed the line at last and has made himself unacceptable to the Republican leadership. It doesn't mean he won't be able to continue to gin up trouble with his bigoted blather, but finally most leadership has decided they have to denounce him. It's a start, but I do at some level relish their cooking in the juices they've brewed now for seven years with the subtle racism the party has dabbled in concerning the President. That Obamamania is what fuels the Republican party now and Trump has been a master at igniting and feeding that fire. That it might consume them all is to be hoped. That it might spread further still and consume us all is to be dreaded.

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  2. What I'd like to see are reporters asking these guys questions along the lines of: "If you denounce that thing, why do you support this thing?" The slow leakage of logic into the discussion may get some of the voters to at least ask questions of themselves.

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    1. I'm finding many voters (of both stripes but most vividly conservative Republicans right now) are less moved by ideas than emotions and Trump triggers the right feelings of anger powered by fear. Instead of trying to channel that anger, he wants to stoke it and use it for his own immediate purposes which benefit him and not those he purports to care about. Anyone who imagines a mob attitude can solve anything is foolish and dangerously so.

      We need to calm down and approach this problem with a relentless effort not twitch and turn everytime there's a setback. I have grave doubts that anyone currently running for President on the Republican side has the audacity and nerve to have waged World War II, they seem too caught up in whipping the crowd to seeing the end results.

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  3. Muslim extremists murder unarmed victims, in a designated gun-free zone, in a state with strict gun control laws. One of the killers had recently visited the Middle East. Another was from the Middle East, and apparently had no trouble getting through our immigration screening process. Also, neither of them was ever on the No-Fly List, or any terrorism watch list.

    A neighbor had noticed suspicious behavior, but was afraid to report it, for fear of being labeled a racist and an Islamophobe.

    The Obama administration's response to the San Bernardino massacre:

    1. Demand more gun laws. Including a law to prevent people on the No-Fly List (a list that did not include Syed Farook or Tashfeen Malik) from buying guns.

    2. Allow increased immigration from the Middle East. (While the administration's own officials admit that they can't adequately vet immigrants.) And hurl accusations of racism at anyone who suggests temporarily suspending immigration until better vetting procedures are in place.

    3. The US Attorney General promises to "take action" against anyone whose speech "has the potential to raise the mantle of anti-Muslim rhetoric."

    Welcome to Bizarro World.

    BTW, when the Bush was president, Progressives denounced (with considerable justification) the Terror Watch List and its subset, the No-Fly List. The New York Times pointed out that people could be listed based on hearsay and unsupported allegations, and that suspects remained on the list even after they had been investigated and exonerated. The Atlantic and the ACLU also complained about the lack of objective criteria, and the lack of due process.

    Then Obama got elected, and Progressives learned to Stop Worrying and Love the List. Op-eds and articles in the New York Times and Atlantic warned about "gun sales to terrorists on the No-Fly List."

    Hillary Clinton and John Kerry have said that terrorism has "nothing to do with Islam." It's one thing to point out that most Muslims are not terrorists. Or that most Christians are not violent. But to deny any connection between Islam and terrorism is as absurd as denying any connection between the Planned Parenthood shooting and anti-abortion extremism.

    Kerry's and Clinton's statements are beyond political correctness, and cross the line into dhimmitude.

    The media are playing along. They reported that the killers' weapons were bought legally. It now appears to have been an illegal straw purchase. They also reported that the Inland Regional Center was "only a few blocks away from a Planned Parenthood clinic." Turns out the nearest PP clinic was 1.5 miles away.

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    1. Meanwhile, in Pakislamistan, a single white-skinned person does a single bad thing & all whites are condemned along with him :) extremists are everywhere...including your own backyard :P

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    2. I agree with you about the watch list that it is spurious, and I will grant that Progressives have given Obama more leeway to wage the war on terror, but that admits he's waged a pretty aggressive campaign, sometimes with a great deal of innocent death overseas. He wants to mitigate that, and he gets grief.

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    3. I further agree with you that this is not about guns, though of course it is. I have given up any notion that the United States will ever leash guns in our society. If Newtown didn't do it nothing will. But I am always amazed that Conservatives who argue for virtual unlimited access to even military style weapons are only ever fazed when people of color use them for dire purposes. Once in the country, and that should be dead easy I've been hearing for years since they can just walk across the border, getting guns here is the least of a terrorist's problems.

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