Sunday, December 13, 2015

Difficult Problem, Bad Solutions

The Dec. 2 murders of 14 people in San Bernardino, Calif., and the Nov. 14 killings of three people, including a police officer, at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs are chilling examples of the kind of terrorism that seems the most impossible to prevent.
Both were murderous rampages by people who, for the moment, can’t be tied to a specific directive or widespread plot from any particular organization. Instead, what we seem to have here are deranged individuals with nearly unlimited access to high-powered weapons and enraged by inflammatory rhetoric that tells them who the enemies of God are.
It’s hard to imagine how such a plot might be disrupted. Specific plans and instructions from an organization might be intercepted, or members of the conspiracy might have an attack of conscience or otherwise be turned to inform on and break up the plan.
It happens all the time. But how do you find out about a plot that festers in someone’s living room or in some primitive hut on a North Carolina mountainside, under the radar of everyone, including even the killers’ families in the case of the San Bernardino attack?
A difficult problem, to be sure. So, of course, you can count on our politicians to come up with totally wrong solutions.
Take, for example, Donald Trump. The current Republican front-runner has suggested that the solution is to just bar all Muslims from coming to the U.S., until, and I quote, “our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.” This apparently includes Muslim-Americans, born in this country and therefore citizens, who are out of the U.S. when Trump’s Super Huge and Classy Iron Curtain comes down.
OK, let’s just address one thing right off the bat. If you’re going to use as your end date some mythical time when “our country's representatives can figure out what is going on,” then you might as well go ahead and say “forever.”
But the biggest problem with The Donald’s latest brain-spew is … well, let’s let another famous Republican explain it: “I think this whole notion that somehow we can just say, ‘No more Muslims,’ and just ban a whole religion, goes against everything we stand for and believe in.”
You know who said that? The Dark Prince himself, Dick Cheney. Let me tell you something, folks: When even Dick Cheney tells you you’ve gone too far, you need to slow your roll. It’s like having Keith Richards and Axl Rose do an intervention to tell you you’re doing too many drugs.
In any case, Cheney is right. The idea that we deny people, even American citizens, rights based on religion is not only repugnant, but it also violates the U.S. Constitution that Trump and people like him claim to revere, even as they trample all over it.
And, of course, nothing in the Trump proposal would have done a thing to stop Robert Dear, the Planned Parenthood terrorist. Remember him? Everyone else, including the so-called liberal media, seems to have forgotten.
Unfortunately, The Donald is not the only one with a bad idea to thwart so-called “lone wolf” terrorism. President Obama, apparently frustrated by the inability of Congress to even provide for expanded background checks for prospective gun buyers, suggested that maybe we can at least bar people on the TSA’s “no-fly” list from owning firearms.
Now, on the surface, this makes sense. I mean, if you can’t even get on a plane because you’re a suspected terrorist, you shouldn’t be able to own a gun, right? There’s only one problem. For years, the “no fly” list (actually several lists) has been a fiasco, a Kafkaesque nightmare where people are pulled out of line by security, subjected to “enhanced” searches and interrogation, and even denied flights for reasons which no one can or will explain.
Those people include a pilot told he couldn’t board the plane he was supposed to fly, a former U.S. attorney with a “top secret” clearance, and a 5-year-old child, all of whom have names similar to people on the list. Maybe if the various watch lists could be fixed, they might serve as an indicator of who shouldn’t own guns, but since it’s illegal to even reveal who’s actually on them, I don’t see that happening.
The “lone wolf” terrorist problem isn’t going to be solved by simplistic solutions. It’s certainly not going to get solved by fomenting more hate and fear, whether that be against Muslims or against women’s health providers falsely accused of “selling baby parts.” You can’t legislate that, and you can’t control the hate and fear spewed by radicals. But you can call on the people who want your votes to avoid adding to it.


Celine said...

The only possible good that might come out of Obama's proposal is if it serves as the lever to get rid of the "no-fly list" completely. Which should not be discounted as a possibility; sometimes the only way you can get people to notice that something they're doing is wrong is to do it right back at them. Then when they lose their shit, you've got a bargaining point: "I'll stop doing it if you will."

L.J. Sellers said...

And we can stop letting individuals stockpile weapons and ammunition. Or at least create a reporting system, so we know who they are.