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Hullabaloo


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

 

He's not gonna take it anymore

by Tom Sullivan

So now Donald Trump's campaign has revoked the press credentials of the Washington Post because the paper called him out for suggesting President Obama is somehow complicit in the mass shooting in Orlando. (The Post staff responded with mocking tweets.) Because the president won't use the words "radical Islamic terrorism" to describe these incidents, Trump implies (as a lot of right wing commentators do) that there is "something going on" with the president. This is the gilded King of Comb Over's idea of subtlety.

Charlie Pierce had this to say about Obama's response yesterday:

That is the great blessing of having a president whose big bag of fcks is empty and gathering dust up in the Residence. His great gift in the first place was to be the chillest president who ever lived, and that was when he was trying to find his way out of the mess the last guy left behind.

Do they really still think they can roll him now, when his approval rating is in the mid-50s and their party is about to nominate a vulgar talking yam, and now that the president never will face the voters again? He has developed a great ease with power, and a consummate respect for the damage that power can do, which is the only way to wield it in such a way as to do the least amount of damage to democracy. (Yeah, I know. Drones.) The presumptive Republican presidential nominee couldn't learn that if you spotted him Marcus Aurelius and three terms in office.
Here is how the president responded to Trump yesterday, in case you missed it:
And let me make a final point. For a while now, the main contribution of some of my friends on the other side of the aisle have made in the fight against ISIL is to criticize this administration and me for not using the phrase “radical Islam.” That’s the key, they tell us -- we can’t beat ISIL unless we call them “radical Islamists.” What exactly would using this label accomplish? What exactly would it change? Would it make ISIL less committed to trying to kill Americans? Would it bring in more allies? Is there a military strategy that is served by this? The answer is none of the above. Calling a threat by a different name does not make it go away. This is a political distraction. Since before I was President, I’ve been clear about how extremist groups have perverted Islam to justify terrorism. As President, I have repeatedly called on our Muslim friends and allies at home and around the world to work with us to reject this twisted interpretation of one of the world’s great religions.

There has not been a moment in my seven and a half years as President where we have not been able to pursue a strategy because we didn’t use the label "radical Islam." Not once has an advisor of mine said, man, if we really use that phrase, we're going to turn this whole thing around. Not once. So if someone seriously thinks that we don’t know who we're fighting, if there's anyone out there who thinks we're confused about who our enemies are, that would come as a surprise to the thousands of terrorists who we've taken off the battlefield. If the implication is that those of us up here and the thousands of people around the country and around the world who are working to defeat ISIL aren't taking the fight seriously, that would come as a surprise to those who have spent these last seven and a half years dismantling al Qaeda in the FATA, for example -- including the men and women in uniform who put their lives at risk and the Special Forces that I ordered to get bin Laden and are now on the ground in Iraq and in Syria. They know full well who the enemy is. So do the intelligence and law enforcement officers who spend countless hours disrupting plots and protecting all Americans, including politicians who tweet and appear on cable news shows. They know who the nature of the enemy is.

So there’s no magic to the phrase “radical Islam.” It’s a political talking point; it's not a strategy. And the reason I am careful about how I describe this threat has nothing to do with political correctness and everything to do with actually defeating extremism. Groups like ISIL and al Qaeda want to make this war a war between Islam and America, or between Islam and the West. They want to claim that they are the true leaders of over a billion Muslims around the world who reject their crazy notions. They want us to validate them by implying that they speak for those billion-plus people; that they speak for Islam. That’s their propaganda. That's how they recruit. And if we fall into the trap of painting all Muslims with a broad brush and imply that we are at war with an entire religion -- then we’re doing the terrorists' work for them.

Now, up until this point, this argument about labels has mostly just been partisan rhetoric. And, sadly, we've all become accustomed to that kind of partisanship, even when it involves the fight against these extremist groups. And that kind of yapping has not prevented folks across government from doing their jobs, from sacrificing and working really hard to protect the American people.

But we are now seeing how dangerous this kind of mindset and this kind of thinking can be. We're starting to see where this kind of rhetoric and loose talk and sloppiness about who exactly we're fighting, where this can lead us. We now have proposals from the presumptive Republican nominee for President of the United States to bar all Muslims from emigrating to America. We hear language that singles out immigrants and suggests that entire religious communities are complicit in violence. Where does this stop? The Orlando killer, one of the San Bernardino killers, the Fort Hood killer -- they were all U.S. citizens.

Are we going to start treating all Muslim Americans differently? Are we going to start subjecting them to special surveillance? Are we going to start discriminating against them because of their faith? We’ve heard these suggestions during the course of this campaign. Do Republican officials actually agree with this? Because that's not the America we want. It doesn't reflect our democratic ideals. It won’t make us more safe; it will make us less safe -- fueling ISIL’s notion that the West hates Muslims, making young Muslims in this country and around the world feel like no matter what they do, they're going to be under suspicion and under attack. It makes Muslim Americans feel like they're government is betraying them. It betrays the very values America stands for.

We've gone through moments in our history before when we acted out of fear -- and we came to regret it. We've seen our government mistreat our fellow citizens. And it has been a shameful part of our history.

This is a country founded on basic freedoms, including freedom of religion. We don't have religious tests here. Our Founders, our Constitution, our Bill of Rights are clear about that. And if we ever abandon those values, we would not only make it a lot easier to radicalize people here and around the world, but we would have betrayed the very things we are trying to protect -- the pluralism and the openness, our rule of law, our civil liberties -- the very things that make this country great; the very things that make us exceptional. And then the terrorists would have won. And we cannot let that happen. I will not let that happen.

Two weeks ago, I was at the commencement ceremony at the Air Force Academy. And it could not have been more inspiring to see these young people stepping up, dedicated to serve and protect this country. And part of what was inspiring was the incredible diversity of these cadets. We saw cadets, who are straight, applauding classmates who were openly gay. We saw cadets, born here in America, applauding classmates who are immigrants and love this country so much they decided they wanted to be part of our armed forces. We saw cadets and families of all religions applaud cadets who are proud, patriotic Muslim Americans serving their country in uniform, ready to lay their lives on the line to protect you and to protect me. We saw male cadets applauding for female classmates, who can now serve in combat positions. That’s the American military. That’s America -- one team, one nation. Those are the values that ISIL is trying to destroy, and we shouldn’t help them do it.

Our diversity and our respect for one another, our drawing on the talents of everybody in this country, our making sure that we are treating everybody fairly -- that we’re not judging people on the basis of what faith they are or what race they are, or what ethnicity they are, or what their sexual orientation is -- that’s what makes this country great. That’s the spirit we see in Orlando. That’s the unity and resolve that will allow us to defeat ISIL. That’s what will preserve our values and our ideals that define us as Americans. That’s how we’re going to defend this nation, and that’s how we’re going to defend our way of life.

Thank you very much.

As Andrea Mitchell observed, echoes of "My name is Barack Obama, and I *am* the President."