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

  • Cats and dogs

    I've always been leery of people who dislike animals. To my wife and me, a house without dog hair in the corners and a cat perched on the windowsill is as barren as a highway rest stop. We're down to three dogs and two cats, the smallest menagerie we've had for years.
    • Dec 7, 2017
  • GOP contempt

    Sometimes it's hard to be cynical enough about the current course of American politics. Astonishing, yet not at all surprising. That was my immediate reaction to the news — largely ignored by national print and broadcast media — that the Trump administration refused to ask Congress for one thin dime of disaster funding in the wake of Northern California's devastating wildfires.
    • Nov 30, 2017
  • Who knows?

    While we’re on the subject, has everybody already forgotten about “Jackie” of Rolling Stone and University of Virginia fame? Or Crystal Mangum, who falsely accused several Duke lacrosse players of rape (supported by a large contingent of the faculty) and who was subsequently convicted of stabbing her boyfriend to death?
    • Nov 21, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • 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

  • Conflicts of interest in the legislatures

    The Center for Public Integrity and the Associated Press collaborated for a project aimed at highlighting state legislators whose lawmaking might be affected by private business interests.
  • Industrial hemp pilot program coming soon to Arkansas

    One of the booths at this week's Ark-La-Tex Medical Cannabis Expo was hosted by the Arkansas Hemp Association, a trade group founded to promote and expand non-intoxicating industrial hemp as an agricultural crop in the state. AHA Vice President Jeremy Fisher said the first licenses to grow experimental plots of hemp in the state should be issued by the Arkansas State Plant Board next spring.
  • Cats and dogs

    I've always been leery of people who dislike animals. To my wife and me, a house without dog hair in the corners and a cat perched on the windowsill is as barren as a highway rest stop. We're down to three dogs and two cats, the smallest menagerie we've had for years.

Latest in Gene Lyons

  • Cats and dogs

    I've always been leery of people who dislike animals. To my wife and me, a house without dog hair in the corners and a cat perched on the windowsill is as barren as a highway rest stop. We're down to three dogs and two cats, the smallest menagerie we've had for years.
    • Dec 7, 2017
  • GOP contempt

    Sometimes it's hard to be cynical enough about the current course of American politics. Astonishing, yet not at all surprising. That was my immediate reaction to the news — largely ignored by national print and broadcast media — that the Trump administration refused to ask Congress for one thin dime of disaster funding in the wake of Northern California's devastating wildfires.
    • Nov 30, 2017
  • Who knows?

    While we’re on the subject, has everybody already forgotten about “Jackie” of Rolling Stone and University of Virginia fame? Or Crystal Mangum, who falsely accused several Duke lacrosse players of rape (supported by a large contingent of the faculty) and who was subsequently convicted of stabbing her boyfriend to death?
    • Nov 21, 2017
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »

December

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
31  

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Where cities go from here

    • So Florida says he was wrong the first time and the second time he says…

    • on December 10, 2017
  • Re: Cats and dogs

    • Dee-lightful column - and wonderfully written comments.

    • on December 10, 2017
  • Re: GOP contempt

    • If ineptitude and irrelevance had a poster boy, it would be Gene Lyons. He harangues…

    • on December 10, 2017
 

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