Trump, Clinton, and the ISIS Freak Out

Donald TrumpGlenn Greenwald wrote an important reminder for all of us, Donald Trump’s “Ban Muslims” Proposal Is Wildly Dangerous but Not Far Outside the US Mainstream. This should not come as a shock to anyone. Everywhere in Republican presidential field you see this kind of thing. I was shocked when Jeb Bush suggested that we only allow Christian refugees into the country. And that is part of a widely held view among Republicans that America is a Christian nation — an idea that is so far removed from reality to be offensive.

I understand that people are freaked out. But I don’t exactly “get” it. A couple of Muslims killed a bunch of people and now much of the nation is on tilt. Suddenly, “Something must be done!” If 2 December 2015 was like most days, there were about 30 other gun murders in the nation. Bad things happen. People murder. Hillary ClintonWhen a Latino murders someone, do we start talking limiting immigration? No. But when it comes to Muslims, hatred and fear is quite socially acceptable. And so talking nonsense about making major changes to the country to combat what is a minor issue at this point makes no sense.

Clearly, mass shootings generally are an important issue. I would like to see something done to stop them. But I don’t know of any mainstream politician who is talking about anything that would actually do much. However, there is nothing even approaching the kind of carnage that the UK saw during The Troubles. Of course, we know that the Republicans are crazy. The problem is that it isn’t just them.

I wanted to offer up a very disturbing contrast that Greenwald presented. (He got it from Trevor Timm.) Back on Monday, Trump was talking to a group of his blackshirts. And he had this to say:

We’re losing a lot of people because of the internet. We have to see Bill Gates and a lot of different people that really understand what’s happening. We have to talk to them about, maybe in certain areas, closing that internet up in some ways. Somebody will say, “Oh freedom of speech, freedom of speech.” These are foolish people.

Yes, these are foolish people. They are so in the tradition of the founding of this country onward. Very foolish! I understand that the murder of 14 people is tragic. But it is hardly the clash of civilizations. It does not suggest that we change our way of life and start shutting down parts of the internet. This is what the Chinese government and other autocracies do. As Benjamin Franklin said, “Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” The truth is, it isn’t even about what they deserve; they won’t get the safety that is supposed to come with the loss of liberty.

But last week, Hillary Clinton talked about the same thing. And here’s what she said:

Self-radicalization that leads to attacks, like what we think happened in San Bernardino, we’re going to have to ask our tech companies… to help us on this. And this is complicated, you’re gonna hear all of the usual complaints, you know, freedom of speech, etc.

So other than the fact that she has some clue the issue might be “complicated” because, you know, the Constitution and all, how is that different from what Trump said?

In the “war on terror,” the US seems very much like a meth addict complaining that she isn’t getting any sleep. Implied in both Trump and Clinton’s comments is this idea, “We keep killing Muslims, and yet more just keep coming.” Maybe our strategy is wrong. Maybe rather than adding the destruction of the First Amendment to our weapons, we could do something that might work. Then again, what do I know? Maybe that meth addict just needs a strong cup of coffee in order to get a good night’s sleep.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

10 thoughts on “Trump, Clinton, and the ISIS Freak Out

  1. Generally in war, even an asymmetrical war like the one with ISIS, there are attempts at shutting off communication. So the difference between the two is that Clinton accepts that there are balances to be struck between shutting off that communication and freedom of speech. Oh and she knows that Bill Gates doesn’t do anything with tech directly anymore.

    • That’s a good framing of it. And I do accept that she’s more aware of the issues. But I still think it is wrong. I’ve decided to spare you my take on it, because you probably already know and largely agree.

      • Yep, we mostly agree even though you are more dovish then I am. Someone has to tell us hawks we are being warmongering idiots after all. :)

        • I’m now beginning to think that her time as SoS is making a strong liberal case for her, because it will be very hard for the Republicans to run anyone against her. They all just look like a bunch of chick hawks. And that’s good. Because they are!

          • There is a difference between a thoughtful hawk and what the Republicans do.

            She is going to think about it before she does something. And that has value since there is a window of time to persuade her to take a different course of action. It is the same with Obama-sure he is just as willing as any other American president to bomb the crap out of something but he is less likely than the Republican ones to do it when you can negotiate.

            • I would never say that Clinton is even in the same ballpark as the Republicans. But there is a broader analysis that looks at what is acceptable in our political discourse. And it is very concerning that controlling the internet is on the agenda of both parties.

              • I don’t think it should be a surprise. Leaders always want to control the discourse. The important thing is telling them to get stuffed when they do and back it up by removing them from office if they don’t.

                • Yeah, but that’s expecting a lot. When was the last time the voters got mad and removed someone from office for a good reason?

                  • Here locally we did that to a particularly virulent racist-he was not only recalled as the sitting State Senator, he was the President of the Senate at the time.

                    However you are right-on the whole it seems awfully difficult to kick someone out of office for misbehavior since we both know rarely do voters pay attention at the right time.

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