After the Paris attacks the GOP conveniently went after Syrian refugees which allowed the American Left to turn the debate of Islamic terrorism into a part of the 2016 presidential election contest. It became part of the classic battle between the Democratic party’s multi-culturalism and the Republican Party’s resurgent racist nativism. In the process the threat of real live Islamic terrorism was ignored, even belittled. I wondered, a month ago, how we on the Left would react when American Islamic terrorists, inspired by ISIS, would attack.
That attack came quickly enough, in San Bernardino, in an appalling bloodbath. The Left reacted immediately by going into complete denial and swearing up and down that the slaughter was actually the result of a work place grievance. As stupid as that sounds now, most progressives, certainly on Facebook anyway, could not accept the possibility that the attack was Islamic terrorism, because that is what the conservatives had been screaming about. The GOP wanted to ban or at least restrict the entry of Syrian refugees out of fear there could be ISIS infiltrators among them. And in the all or nothing nature of American politics anymore, that meant even admitting the possibility of Islamic terrorism could happen here meant that one was one of them, a conservative, i.e., racist, evil, fascist and unworthy of US citizenship. The American Left has become just as intolerant of the American Right as the Right is of us, right down to denying rights of citizenship to those who disagree with us. The more extreme of us stink of the Tea Party in the ways we argue. We have learned their methods well.
The sad and forgotten thing, of course, is that Syrian refugees and ISIS cells are not the same, but by denying the possibility ISIS terrorism in our defense of Syrian refugees we have idiotically linked the two. The Republicans opposed admitting Syrians because there will be terrorism. So of course we say we support the Syrian refugees and there will not be terrorism. What we should have done, of course, was focus on the ISIS threat AND support Syrian refugees, but that required a level of subtlety and mental flexibility that most on the Left–or at least in the social media left–appear capable of engaging in, let alone comprehending. Even the smartest people on our side have been rendered stupid by the all or nothing nature of current American political debate. Just as stupid as they are on the other side.
Thank God Donald Trump came to the rescue. By demanding that all Muslims be banned, he has turned the discussion of Islamic terrorism again into the classic battle between the Democratic party’s multi-culturalism and the Republican racist nativism. Liberals and especially Progressives love this kind of thing, these all or nothing good vs evil battles with no subtlety whatsoever. And as Donald Trump is one of the least subtle American politicians in years it allows us to forget all about Islamic terrorism and talk purely about what a racist Donald Trump is. Meanwhile fourteen dead civil servants and social workers, most of them women of color, are buried and we don’t even know their names. We don’t even want to know their names. Because knowing their names would remind us that there are homicidal and suicidal ISIS supporters in this country now and that we don’t seem to give a damn. We’re too busy playing the presidential election game, which is much more fun than thinking about murdered people.
The Left is acting disgracefully on this home grown ISIS issue. It has stooped so low that it scorned those who wanted to pray for the dead–even told them they were evil for praying. And it has effectively handed over the ISIS issue to the conservatives, because it refuses to come up with a way to discuss dealing with ISIS while retaining its own core principals. Somehow, the American Left believes that discussing the genuine threat of Islamic terrorism in American means we are supporting Donald Trump. Why we think that I have no idea, as it makes no sense. But that’s what we have done. And as the Left is pretending none of this actual bloody slaughter has happened and will keep happening (and as more than a few of us engage in harebrained thinking that somehow ISIS is all a CIA conspiracy), there will inevitably be more massacres, and the left will begin hemorrhaging panicky progressives to the right, and the much of the rest of us will find ourselves endorsing extra-constitutional measures just the way panicky New Deal Democrats supported dumping loyal Japanese-Americans in concentration camps in 1942. In France the Left is balancing its beliefs with vigilance against ISIS, but in the US the Left pretends there is no ISIS here at all, and the only truly evil people in America are those nasty Republicans that Rachel Maddow points out for us.
It’s not ISIS but the GOP who are the real radicalized fanatics in this country, someone commented to on a post of mine, they are the really dangerous ones. Somehow she had seen those pictures of dead social workers and blamed Republicans. I wanted to ask if she thought we should shoot them, but I knew what her answer would be.