Wednesday, December 9, 2015
Let's face it - this administration's system for vetting people coming into our country failed spectacularly in the case of the San Bernardino killers. As did domestic intelligence efforts intended to ferret out terrorists in our midst before they strike. And in the aftermath, Barack Obama once again bloodlessly lectured a frightened country - claiming that Islam had nothing to do with the violence, that the refugee "widows and orphans" entering our country are no more dangerous than tourists, and that the steps he's already taking to protect us from terror (so unsuccessfully) are all that is necessary.
And, oh yeah - Americans must resist their natural inclinations toward racism and ethnic hatred.
Much of what Obama said is demonstrably nonsense. But sadly we're also hearing nonsense of a distinctly non-helpful variety from Donald Trump. Should we consider a pause on the admission of refugees and immigrants until we figure out what went wrong with the vetting process for Tashfeen Malik? Absolutely. But simply banning all Muslims from entry (and assuming that terrorists are too stupid to lie about their faith) is a ham-handed approach which reinforces Trump's image as an overly-loud oaf who has had a few too many drinks at the bar and needs to be put in a taxi.
When speaking about Syed Farook, Trump said (and we paraphrase from memory here), "Howzabout that woman he brought in with him? Was that his first woman? Probably he'd never had a woman before! So she was able to radicalize him real fast." Well gosh, Donald, thanks for the pithy analysis and the sophomoric locker room talk.
Additionally, Hope n' Change is tired of hearing (from numerous sources) that "we're at war!" Yes, there is a battle which we need to take seriously and need to win - but San Bernardino wasn't Pearl Harbor.
There is room - and necessity - for our nation to find the middle ground between Barack Hussein Obama's denials and Donald Trump's bellicose bombast. It is time - indeed, well past time - for all of this to be dealt with seriously, by serious people.
A personal sidebar: today, I had lunch in a McDonald's which is very near a large mosque in our neighborhood. It wasn't crowded inside, and I took note of the other people who were there. The staffers behind the counter were happily speaking to each other in Spanish. A woman wearing a headscarf was eating and looking at a video on her computer (I admit it - I looked to see if it was a "how to" on building "clocks," but it appeared to be a soap opera). Nearby, two Asian men chatted in what I presume was Chinese. And the McDonald's itself was nicely decorated for Christmas (by name) and, despite being next door to a mosque, advertising the distinctly non-Halal McRib.
As we were leaving, I held the door for a young mother wearing a head scarf as she entered while Mrs. Jarlsberg helped guide the woman's baby stroller through the door. The woman smiled and thanked us.
There's no big punchline to this story, other than that everyone was getting along just fine. At a McDonald's. And it made me wish that we could all take a deep breath and turn down the nonsensical rhetoric a bit on both sides. Not closing our eyes to very real dangers; just remembering that keeping our eyes open should have rewards which go beyond surveillance.