The GOP belittles those of us who renew our plea for stricter gun regulation after every mass murder, but we have actually been making that plea for a very long time, and not just after a mass murder, but on a daily basis, every day, because every day an average 27 people die of senseless gun violence. The GOP, however, never cease to amaze with their vast array of wildly rabid responses to disasters and tragic situations of every type. Here were a few of the GOP responses to the massacre in Orlando last week:
- Presidential candidate Donald Trump: We have to start looking at profiling
“I think profiling is something we’re going to have to start thinking about as a country. Other countries do it. You look at Israel and you look at others, and they do it and they do it successfully. We have to use, you know, we have to use our heads. … We really have to look at profiling. We have to look at it seriously. I think, right now, we have some pretty big problems, and they’re problems coming out of radical Islamic groups. You know, radical Islamic groups. You have a very, very strong group of people that is radical Islamic and that seems to be a problem.”
(It would be such a relief if this man learned to speak proper English and in complete sentences!)
- House Homeland Security Chairman, Representative Michael McCaul: FBI should monitor Facebook for possible terrorists
Omar Mateen, the killer of 49 people in Orlando last weekend, allegedly used multiple Facebook accounts to write posts and make searches about Daesh. In his posts, Mateen called on the United States and Russia to stop the bombing campaign against Daesh. He also frequently used Facebook to search for information on law enforcement agencies and terrorist groups. This, Chairman McCaul believes, justifies monitoring social media. He said it’s possible the FBI could develop an algorithm to find suspicious Facebook posts and that users “have no expectation of privacy” on the site.
- Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions: Of course the threat is radical Islam
Sessions said the threat of radical Islam is “out there, it’s growing and … it looks like it will continue to grow.” He said President Obama doesn’t understand the threat the country faces from Daesh and defended Trump’s earlier comments criticizing the president and even intimating that he believed President Obama had ties to Daesh.
See the problem with any of these broadly ambiguous ‘solutions’?
Let’s start with the first one, Trump’s claim that we need to use profiling. He doesn’t specify whether he means racial profiling or religious profiling, but there is a problem with both. Religious profiling is unconstitutional, thus illegal and would require an unlikely act of Congress to change the law, basically altering the 1st Amendment, to allow it. Racial profiling, checking out and monitoring people of Middle-Eastern heritage, would be unwieldy, impractical, and would do very little to prevent a terrorist attack, since many people of Middle-Eastern descent are American citizens, 99.9% have no ties to terrorism, and not all terrorists, as we have seen in recent years, are of Middle-Eastern descent. This process would be extremely costly and net few, if any, results, plus would have the added disadvantage of leaving behind disgruntled, innocent citizens who were unjustly profiled. Scratch that one.
McCaul’s call for monitoring Facebook is equally impractical, though I see somewhat more merit in the idea. First problem here is that Facebook is not the only social media venue that would need to be monitored. There are Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest, to name only a few, with more likely to pop up in the coming years. Again, we come back to the cost-benefit question. Also, there is not only a possibility, but a near certainty that mistakes will be made and 12-year-old kids will find the FBI knocking at their door because of something they posted about some game they were playing. McCaul said that Facebook users have no expectation of privacy. Well, that is arguable, as many of my friends, though I have told them time and time again that there is no privacy in electronic communications, whether e-mail, cell phone, text messaging or Facebook, still believe they have a guaranteed ‘right to privacy’ for their photos and communications. So, while they would have no legal ground upon which to stand, watch how many of them scream, rant and rail once they figure out that Uncle is monitoring their posts. I suspect that the end result would be a series of lawsuits, costing We The People much for little or no benefit.
I have previously addressed the whole issue of referring to terrorism acts as ‘radical Islamic’. Islam is a religion, and not everyone who ascribes to the religion are terrorists any more than anyone who ascribes to Christianity are members of the Westboro Church. Need I repeat that? So, what happens when we call everyone who commits or is suspected of committing an act of terrorism a ‘radical Islamist’? And what happens when, as Sessions, Trump, and so many others call for the word ‘terrorism’ to be replaced with the phrase ‘radical Islamic terrorism’? We have just condemned every Muslim in the world, 1.6 billion people, 23% of the entire world’s population, to hatred and harassment by people who do not understand the distinction. What in the Sam Heck is to be gained by that? I will tell you what … we will make enemies across the globe!
So if all three of these non-solutions are not only impractical, unworkable, costly and likely doomed before they hit paper, how and why did these men even mention them? Now, at least 2 of these 3 ‘gentlemen’ are not stupid men. They are college-educated, and have worked their way through the ranks of government.
McCaul earned his Juris Doctor from St. Mary’s University in 1987. He also attended Harvard University, taking courses in the Kennedy School of Government. He has worked as an attorney and federal prosecutor, worked within the Department of Justice’s Public Integrity Section, and served as Deputy Attorney General in Texas. He was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2004. He was involved in a conflict in 2011 when he and two fellow congressmen tried to force Christian funerals on all military personnel killed in action, regardless of the deceased’s religion or the consent of the families, but that appears to be the only major ‘black mark’ on his record.
Jeff Sessions earned his Juris Doctor in 1973 from the Alabama School of Law. He has practiced private law, served as the Assistant District Attorney and was nominated by President Reagan to the U.S. District Court but failed the nomination hearing. He was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1996.
Why am I boring you with all this detail? To support my point that these are not stupid men. One does not get where they are today without being educated and intelligent. Yet they are spouting rhetoric that is not only stupid, but dangerous. The biggest danger, since none of the proposed ‘solutions’ have any relevance, is that these words will only spread the flames of hatred, bigotry and fear that the other man, Donald Trump, put a match to a year ago. It is the responsibility of our lawmakers to reduce the fear, to speak directly to the people and tell them that there is no reason for hatred and it will not be tolerated. Instead, these two otherwise intelligent men are pouring gasoline on the fire and we will all pay the price. Have they been given to believe they have more power than they actually have? Are they, like Trump, truly narcissists? Although McCaul is up for re-election this November, Sessions term will not expire for another four years thereafter. Sadly we are stuck with him, but his constituents need to let him know that they will not tolerate this tone of rhetoric. Oh wait, did I fail to mention that both McCaul and Sessions are from southern states? My, isn’t that a co-incidence?