Source: Why Evolution is True
Last night President Obama addressed the nation in the wake of the San Bernardino shootings. If you missed his twelve-minute talk, here it is:
In general I think he did the best he could given the circumstances, though, with the exacerbated calls for gun control, it sounded a lot like “we’ll do more of the same.” It was basically a Presidential attempt to calm the country down. Here are the good and not-so-good bits:
The good stuff:
- The call for Congress to make it harder for Americans to buy assault weapons and a call to ban those on the terrorism watch list from buying any guns (Republicans recently voted down that law)
- A review of the relatively lax “fiancee visa” regulations that allowed the female shooter in San Bernardino to enter the U.S.
- A review of our policy about visa waivers
- A refusal to put American forces in a ground war
- A call for Americans to resist the demonization of Muslims, and an emphasis on our law-abiding Muslim citizens and residents, many of whom serve in the armed forces. Obama said that this demonization is exactly what ISIS wants, though I hear the trope about “not doing what ISIS wants” all the time, and I’m not sure what they really do want. We shouldn’t demonize Muslims, but not because it plays into the hands of ISIS, but because treating Muslims as equal citizens, and avoiding personal or legal discrimination against them on the basis of their faith, are simply the right things to do
- An implicit emphasis on maintaining Englightenment values, i.e., a refusal to abandon American principles when combating terrorism (then we should close Guantanamo, for crying out loud!)
The not-so-good stuff:
- Obama’s emphasis that terrorists or members ISIS instantiate a “perverted interpretation of Islam” and that ISIS “does not speak for Islam.” Well, ISIS speaks for Islam just as much as Pat Robertson speaks for Christianity. But at least Obama said the “I” word.
- The call for Congress to declare war on ISIS by authorizing continuing military involvement. I’m not sure exactly what that means, or how it would change our present strategy. I fear that American ground troops will eventually be involved, what with a Republican Congress in place and a more hawkish President, Hillary Clinton (or any Republican) in the wings.
- The nod to God at the end: “God bless you and God bless America” (omitted in the video). The ritual invocation of the deity at the end of Presidential speeches is a relatively new development: the first President to use the phrase was Richard Nixon, during a 1973 exculpation speech on Watergate.
In general, though, the only real change that will result from this talk will be is a stricter review of the U.S. visa program. Our military strategy in Syria and Iraq probably won’t change, Congress won’t pass laws tightening gun restrictions, and God won’t bless America, because he doesn’t exist.
But against the braying and braggadocio of the right-wing gun nuts, who use mass killings as a rationale for loosening gun regulations, Obama sounds like a saint. Here, for instance, is Jerry Falwell Jr., the son of the Matchbox and his successor as President of the fundamentalist Christian Liberty University, speaking at the University convocation. Fallwell fils called for more guns, implied he was carrying one in his back pocket, urged students to carry more legal, concealed handguns (nothing that the University has free courses on this), and added, “If more good people had concealed carry permits, then we could end those Muslims before they, before they go out there and kill.”
And listen to all those Christian students cheering Falwell on!
Seriously “end those Muslims”?
Finally, here’s Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican Presidential candidate, defending his vote allowing people on the “no fly list” to buy guns. His rationale: the majority of people on the list are there by mistake. This is of course a dismissal of President Obama’s statement, “Right now, people on the No-Fly list can walk into a store and buy a gun. That is insane. If you’re too dangerous to board a plane, you’re too dangerous, by definition, to buy a gun.”
h/t: GB James, jsp