David Cay Johnston
CommUnity of Minds — David Cay Johnston writes: Listening to Republican presidential candidates on Tuesday night, you would think that America has become a nation of wimps, cowering in fear for no good reason over a murderous band of Middle Easterners with little power to harm us.
Polls show strong support for Donald Trump, who wants to spy on mosques and ban all Muslims from entering the country. Ben Carson fears a Muslim president would follow Sharia, unaware of the most basic principles of our Constitution. Sen. Ted Cruz spreads sophisticated versions of the same un-American rhetoric and calls President Barack Obama “an apologist” for terrorists during appearances on conspiracy theorist Glenn Beck’s show.
All three, along with the other Republican candidates, say if elected they will protect us from “radical Islamic terrorists.” But the reality is that their vile comments threaten America far more than those they attack.
The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) is a pipsqueak. It has no capacity to occupy a single inch of American soil and never will. It is no military threat to America or Europe. All it can do is recruit foolish people to harry us with violent crimes that have no military significance.
Yet under the influence of such political hyperventilating, Americans express their fears to journalists and pollsters about this mouse that cannot even roar. Their anxiety is as ludicrous as the plot of the 1959 Peter Sellers farce about the fictional Duchy of Grand Fenwick invading Manhattan so that, by surrendering, it could get American aid for its wine industry.
Trump’s remarks inciting hatred of Muslims (and Mexicans) have made him ISIL’s chief recruitment officer. ISIL has no better friend than Trump, though his ignorance and narcissism blind him to this awful reality.
ISIL markets the idea that Islam is under attack, persuading people long on zeal and short on good sense to embrace its apocalyptic fantasies that the end is near. ISIL is an enemy not just of America and the West, but also of any Muslims who do not hew to its vision of religious piety, itself a murderous apostasy that offends the Prophet Muhammad and his teachings.
Carson, Cruz and others help ISIL by encouraging the idea that America and its allies are at war with Islam, something that George W. Bush and Obama frequently emphasized is not the case.
Now the leading Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, has joined in. At a town hall last week in Waterloo, Iowa, after the massacre in San Bernardino, California, she pandered, saying, “It’s OK, it’s OK to be afraid.”
No, it is not OK to be afraid. And shame on her for saying that, lending credence to the modern Know-Nothings in the Republican Party.
Being afraid is what ISIL, the remnants of Al-Qaeda and their murderous friends want. What they cannot withstand are smart responses that degrade their capacity and demonstrate American distaste for government violence beyond the minimum necessary in response.
What we should fear are pandering politicians. We should be anxious when politicians promise safety at the price of trashing our Constitution, our values and our history.
Anyone who has read the writings of Osama bin Laden and his ideological spawn knows that their objective is to get America to destroy itself by getting into endless land wars in the Middle East. (12/18/2015)