Monday, December 7, 2015

Response to Longing for Cheap Talk

(See: Just Above Sunset: Longing for Cheap Talk)

Do we have any quotes anywhere from anyone explaining why it's important to call our enemy "Radical Islamic Terrorists" or whatever? Although I'm glad to finally see this from Matthew Yglesias:
The Oval Office address represents Obama's best effort to meet the psychological needs of a frightened nation under attack...
Of course, Matthew Yglesias is not a conservative candidate for president, and although he does seem to be generally discussing the kind of things those people fault Obama for not addressing, he's not specifically talking about what to call the terrorists. Still, it's the closest answer I've seen to what I'm asking, so it'll have to do.

And yet, has any reporter ever asked Trump and that gang for a good reason to refer to those people with a phrase that has the word "Islamic" in there? Or, just as good, have any of the candidates, or even their acolytes, ever volunteered an answer, without having been asked? And if not, why not? Do they assume the answer is so obvious that no one need ask?

Mind you, we've all heard Obama and others give us any number of times the explanation of why we shouldn't lump Islam into the phrase -- no matter what we think we mean by using that word, the "undecided" Muslims in the middle see it as us being involved in some sort of "War of Civilizations", the West versus all Islam, which is exactly what the extremists hope to achieve -- but the Republicans never seem to acknowledge even hearing that explanation.

Worse yet, many in the media don't seem to understand this any clearer than the Republicans do. I've heard several mainstream, theoretically objective journalists lately (I think I heard it from Chuck Todd this past Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press") seem to wonder out loud when the Democrats, particularly Hillary Clinton, will finally cave in and somehow use the word "Islamic". We need to keep asking all these people, Republicans and journalists alike, "Are we at war with Islam? Do you want us to be? If not, then why do you keep trying to tell the whole world that we are, since that's what moderate Muslims hear over there?"

Those "psychological needs" probably don't just include the feeling that our president understands, first of all, that we're at war, and also who we're at war with, but also that, with every new event, the inkling that he will offer a change in approach, even if no new approach is necessarily called for.

Here's something else Yglesias said:
The deaths in San Bernardino were both tragic and horrifying. But if there is one thing the United States has learned from Sandy Hook and Charleston and Colorado Springs and scores of other mass shooting events, it is that the United States of America is fundamentally robust to the occasional spree killing.
In fact, that's a point that I wish Obama had made in last night's speech.

Americans might not understand when Obama tells them that ISIS does not present an "existential threat" to America -- if they ever do try to "take us over", they will fail miserably -- but I do think it would help to let them know that there will probably be more attacks, and that more Americans may die, but we will withstand them, and maybe even survive just as Britain heroically survived the German bombardment in 1940. That way, he could cover himself after the next terrorist attack, instead of us having to endure the wailing of those delicate flowers who, panicked, will be once again shrieking, "Look! It happened again! And he has still done nothing to prevent it!"

Yet, believe it or not, not doing anything in response could actually discourage homegrown terrorists, since it would show them that their feeble attempts to stir us up have no more effect than getting us all onto discussing gun control. It would be our version to the stiff-upper-lip UK response of "Keep Calm and Carry On" to War of Britain bombings in WWII.

But yes, I realize that conservatives too often look to Hollywood for positive examples of fictional American presidents with the kind of backbone they admire, not the least of which being President James Marshall, the Harrison Ford character in "Air Force One".

In real life, Harrison Ford's father's family is Irish Catholic and German, and his mother's is Jewish:
When asked in which religion he and his brother were raised, Ford has jokingly responded, "Democrat," "to be liberals of every stripe". ... Like his parents, Ford is a lifelong Democrat, and a close friend of former President Bill Clinton. ... 
In 2003, he publicly condemned the Iraq War and called for "regime change" in the United States. He also criticized Hollywood for making violent movies, and called for more gun control in the United States.
In case you missed the point, Hollywood's most heralded tough-guy president, Harrison Ford, is a Democrat -- as have been most of our recent, most exemplary presidents.

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