Favorite

Ravings from the right 

Along with watching cable TV news terrorism coverage 24/7, some people appear to think it's your patriotic duty to run around with your hair on fire.

Be afraid, be very afraid.

Along with watching cable TV news terrorism coverage 24/7, some people appear to think it's your patriotic duty to run around with your hair on fire. It's the American Way.

Following the latest mass-shooting event in San Bernardino, Calif., President Obama gave a nationally televised address from the Oval Office. Because last week's killers were a husband and wife team of deranged Muslims instead of the stereotypical lone male demento, the White House sought to offer reassurance.

As is his custom, Obama expressed calm determination.

"The threat from terrorism is real, but we will overcome it," he vowed. "We will destroy ISIL and any other organization that tries to harm us. Our success won't depend on tough talk, or abandoning our values, or giving into fear. That's what groups like ISIL are hoping for. Instead, we will prevail by being strong and smart, resilient and relentless."

Among much of the electorate, however, calm and resilient have gone out of fashion. Overstimulated by a presidential race resembling a WWE promotion, they look for something along the lines of professional wrestling extravaganza, with heroes, villains, vainglorious boasting and hyperbolic threats.

The affiliation between Donald J. Trump and World Wrestling Entertainment head honcho Vince McMahon has been previously noted here. Indeed, the portly GOP candidate with the flowing hair has participated in WWE spectacles with former heavyweight boxing champion Muhummad Ali — to name just one Muslim-American athlete he was unable to recall after Obama's speech. (Trump has also conducted a one-sided public feud with former NBA great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.)

Trump himself, however, was very far from the only GOP hopeful to respond to Obama's speech with bombast. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, ex-commander of the Princeton University debate team, vowed to "utterly destroy" ISIS as president. Remember "Shock and Awe?" Like that. "We will carpet bomb them into oblivion," Cruz promised. "I don't know if sand can glow in the dark, but we're going to find out."

Is he really threatening to nuke ISIS's ragtag "Caliphate"?

And then what? Reoccupy Iraq and Syria? With whose army? For how long? The senator needn't say. It's simply a pose.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio thinks Americans aren't frightened enough. He told a Fox News audience that "people are scared not just because of these attacks but because of a growing sense that we have a president that's completely overwhelmed by them."

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush also ran to a Fox News studio to denounce "the idea that somehow there are radical elements in every religion" as "ridiculous," an argument Obama never made.

Indeed the president's GOP detractors spoke as if confident their intended audience had no clue what his speech actually said — probably a good bet.

To Bush, as to all the rest, the president's failure to pronounce the words "radical Islamic terrorism" has left the nation undefended. This odd bit of magical thinking has become an article of faith on the right.

This obsession with the phrase "radical Islam" puzzles me. Why if only Obama had uttered the magical trope, it seems, a bespectacled duck resembling Groucho Marx would have descended from the ceiling with a crisp new $100 bill, throwing ISIS terrorists into disarray.

Oops, wrong TV show. And yes, I'm showing my age. On Groucho Marx's "You Bet Your Life" everything depended on guests accidently pronouncing the secret word.

But yes, of course Obama has resisted saying that the U.S. is at war with Islam. So did George W. Bush, Kevin Drum points out, "and for good reason: He wanted all the non-terrorist Muslims in the world to be on our side. Why is this so hard to understand?"

Basically because everything is hard to understand for Fox News initiates emotionally committed to binary thinking: good vs. evil, white vs. black, Christian vs. Islamic, etc. After all, this is pretty much the same crowd that Trump has spent years persuading that President Obama's a foreign-born imposter of suspect loyalty. Counting higher than two strikes them as decadent, a sign of weakness.

Along with his race and his suspect parentage, it's precisely Obama's resistance to melodrama that makes this crowd think he's weak.

"ISIL does not speak for Islam," Obama insisted. "They are thugs and killers, part of a cult of death, and they account for a tiny fraction of more than a billion Muslims around the world — including millions of patriotic Muslim Americans who reject their hateful ideology ..."

"That does not mean denying the fact that an extremist ideology has spread within some Muslim communities," the president added. "This is a real problem that Muslims must confront, without excuse."

Far from weakness, it's precisely because he sees America and Americanism as infinitely stronger than ISIS that Obama retains the moral authority to speak such hard truths.

Led by Trump, Republican blowhards have thrown it away.

Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Comments (9)

Showing 1-9 of 9

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-9 of 9

Add a comment

More by Gene Lyons

  • O'Reilly's fall

    Whom the gods would destroy, they first make TV stars.
    • Apr 27, 2017
  • Art bull

    "God, I hate art," my late friend The Doctor used to say.
    • Apr 20, 2017
  • Now and then

    Almost exactly 10 years before launching a Tomahawk missile strike against a Syrian air base, Donald J. Trump enjoyed a similar triumph in an internationally televised, pay-per-view spectacle called the "Battle of the Billionaires."
    • Apr 13, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Not again

    This just in: Nothing boosts circulation or enhances ratings like a sex scandal.
    • Jan 14, 2016
  • Never wrong

    Quite a few people make noises about leaving the country if the wrong person gets elected president. I've been making discreet inquiries in the vicinity of Kinsale, County Cork, myself — from whence my people emigrated after 1880.
    • Apr 21, 2016
  • Hillary hit jobs

    It's always been my conviction that if Hillary Clinton could be appointed president, she'd do a bang-up job. Getting elected, however, might prove more difficult.
    • Jul 28, 2016

Most Shared

  • Former state board of education chair Sam Ledbetter weighs in on Little Rock millage vote

    Ledbetter, the former state Board of Education chair who cast the decisive vote in 2015 to take over the LRSD, writes that Education Commissioner Johnny Key "has shown time and again that he is out of touch with our community and the needs of the district." However, Ledbetter supports the May 9 vote as a positive for the district's students and staff.
  • Workers stiffed

    How is it going with the great experiment to make the Republican Party the champion of the sons and daughters of toil instead of the oligarchs of wealth and business?
  • O'Reilly's fall

    Whom the gods would destroy, they first make TV stars.

Latest in Gene Lyons

  • O'Reilly's fall

    Whom the gods would destroy, they first make TV stars.
    • Apr 27, 2017
  • Art bull

    "God, I hate art," my late friend The Doctor used to say.
    • Apr 20, 2017
  • Now and then

    Almost exactly 10 years before launching a Tomahawk missile strike against a Syrian air base, Donald J. Trump enjoyed a similar triumph in an internationally televised, pay-per-view spectacle called the "Battle of the Billionaires."
    • Apr 13, 2017
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

Fishing the Diamond Lakes of Arkansas

Fishing the Diamond Lakes of Arkansas

Arkansas angler and fishing expert Billy Murray shares his extensive knowledge of the Diamond Lakes of Arkansas

Event Calendar

« »

April

S M T W T F S
  1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30  

Most Viewed

  • Intracity tourism

    The issues that tug at my heartstrings are neighborhood stigma and neighborhood segregation, which are so prevalent in Little Rock. In my opinion, the solution to those problems is "intracity tourism."
  • Forget the hairdo

    As the 2018 races begin to heat up, we see more and more women running for office. And as more women run, we will see more of the seemingly endless critiques of their appearances.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: O'Reilly's fall

    • O'Reilly should run for president. He's already cleared one major hurdle by proving he's a…

    • on April 27, 2017
  • Re: Intracity tourism

    • I love being a tourist in my own backyard. One of the advantages of being…

    • on April 27, 2017
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation