What we saw on TV this evening was the product as advertised: No Drama Obama. The President said what had to be said. We need, he told us, to do measured, reasoned things to defend ourselves at home and abroad, and one of Â them is cultivating a split between the radical Islamic fringe and the mass of Muslims.
This is the basic point that divides Obama from Trump and Cruz and Rubio and everyone in the 101st Chairborne Division who insists that Obama say “Islamic terrorism.” Really, it’s not hard to see that when it comes to Christianity: those of us who aren’t Christians want Christians to disavow Junior Falwell and the Westboro Baptist Church and that Bible-thumper who just shot up the Planned Parenthood clinic, and we know we can’t achieve that by insisting that every lunatic who has a cross at home or a pulpit to pound, and kills someone or makes speeches full of hatred, demonstrates that Christianity, as such, is evil.
By the same token, putting massive numbers of U.S. troops on the ground in Syria would be to follow the fox into the briarpatch. That, after all, is the great lesson of the Iraqi adventure. (As Â @Lib_Librarian – not otherwise known to me – Tweeted, “You know the stupid thing we did before? Which got us in this mess? Yeah, let’s try to avoid that this time.”) Â “Not doing stupid sh*t” isn’t an emotionally satisfying foreign policy principle, but it beats the alternative all hollow.
But in some ways the tone of the speech was even more important than the substance. The President made his caseÂ with logical force but without dramatic passion. No anger. No shouting. He addressed us as a grown-up talking to other grown-ups about a difficult situation, not an adolescent gangbanger egging his homies on to some act of emotionally satisfying, but disastrous, retaliatory violence.
What Barack Obama’s fans love about him is precisely what the Red Team hates: his sanity. Unlike Trump, he doesn’t appeal to people who want a leader to express their rage for them and make them feel righteous about it: An Angry-Drunk-in-Chief.
What we need most, at this moment, is courage: the courage, as the President said yesterday, not to be terrorized, not to give the terrorists the power that only we can give them, by letting them bait us into folly, like stallion driven mad by a horsefly.
What I felt when the speech was over was a mixture of gratitude and pride: gratitude that we are being led by someone who prefers accuracy to dramatic passion, and pride, as both a Democrat and an American, at having a leader worth following.
Footnote Â Given that being placed on the “no-fly” list means that, if you’re an American citizen abroad, you’re effectively stranded there, a virtual exile, Obama’s argument that someone dangerous enough to be on that list shouldn’t be able to acquire an arsenal seems reasonably sound. On the other hand, the objection that people are put on the list without due process, and have no effective recourse once they’re on it, also seems cogent. So how about we compromise: Give everyone on the no-fly list full notice and an opportunity to be heard and represented, and extend the consequences of being on that list to not being able to buy weaponry?
7 thoughts on “A grown-up talks to grown-ups about ISIL”
> So how about we compromise: Give everyone on the no-fly list full notice and an opportunity to be heard and represented, and extend the consequences of being on that list to not being able to buy weaponry?
Having someone place you on a list is not a crime. We are nation that (rightly) believe in the principle of innocent until proven guilty of a crime.
Having a bureaucrat place you on a list is not a crime.
We do have lists of real criminals already, and they are not allowed weapons: http://people.howstuffworks.com/can-felon-own-gun…
The way autocratic governments establish themselves is by talking about terrorism and then asking you to give up some right you have. Most of the first 10 Amendments are no longer respected. We need to take back those rights, not lose more.
Let's start by getting rid of indefinite detention without due process: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Defense_Au…
Then let's move on to getting rid of modern day slavery in our prison system by ending the War on Drugs.
This nonsense about taking away more rights? No thanks. There are fascist countries that you are welcome to move to if that's your thing.
One area where I think the speech fell a bit short was when Obama talked about the need for Muslims to confront extremism. "That does not mean denying the fact that an extremist ideology has spread within some Muslim communities. This is a real problem that Muslims must confront, without excuse. Muslim leaders here and around the globe have to continue working with us to decisively and unequivocally reject the hateful ideology that groups like ISIL and al Qaeda promote…"
First of all, "working with us," is a poorly chosen phrase. It makes it sound like Muslims "around the globe" who condemn terrorism are doing it to please the United States rather than out of serious religious conviction. Second, "continue working" does indicate that Muslims have already taken action, but it's easy to miss this if you are listen to the speech rather than reading it carefully. A widely repeated myth on the political right is that Muslims don't condemn terrorism, so if Obama wants to talk about what Muslims must do, he must first set the record straight about what Muslims have already done.
Here are a couple of articles that give Muslim perspectives on condemning extremism: http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/us-muslims-str… http://www.theguardian.com/media/greenslade/2015/…
"So how about we compromise: Give everyone on the no-fly list full notice and an opportunity to be heard and represented, and extend the consequences of being on that list to not being able to buy weaponry?"
Fair enough: Put people on the no-fly list as a consequence of a felony conviction, or a process with a similar level of procedural safeguards, including the right to trial by jury, and I'm in. For anything less? No way.
Oh, and I think losing any of your civil rights on the basis of mental illness ought to follow the same principle: If you want to take somebody's rights away, you need a process comparable to a felony trial, including right to trial by jury.
It's a civil right, I insist it be treated as one until the 2nd amendment is repealed.
"… insisting that every lunatic who has a cross at home or a pulpit to pound, and kills someone or makes speeches full of hatred, demonstrates that Christianity, as such, is evil."
What if 35% or 51% or 82% of Christians acted that way? At what point is it allowable to say that Christianity is evil? The problem of using Christianity as an analog of Islam is that there are many places in the world where large minorities to outright majorities of Muslims believe in ideas which are antithetic to Enlightenment values, like justified violence against apostates, heretics and sinners. They support Islamic theocracy. They vote for candidates and belong to Mosques where the leaders make speeches full of hatred, vitriol and violence.
What are supposed to call philosophies like this if not evil?
There are Christian places like that too – many in the US. Salafism is very much a minority within Islam. Maybe Obama was trying to get a message to Saudi and the wealthy ideologues in the Gulf States who fund Salafist proselytising?
Really? There are many places in the US where you'll be murdered if you convert from Christianity? Where murder of of apostates is preached from the pulpit, and put into effect by the faithful? There's an ongoing genocide of Muslims across the West?
News to me. You must be living on Bizzaro Earth where a party just got shot up by Christians.
Well, the FBI is still looking into where and when Trump was radicalized, and have not yet figured out if it was perhaps at some kind of extremist website on the internet or whether it was through having traveled to Texas or perhaps to South Carolina. He is also known to have had contacts with certain right wing Republicans in the past and may have been influenced by them, but there is no solid evidence that that is how his radicalization occurred. It will take the FBI forensics teams a while to examine his hard drive and cell phone and perhaps they will have better information by then. Give the professionals time to do their job and don't go jumping to conclusions just yet.
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