Paris was attacked; leading conservative politicians leaped to shamelessly pander to their fearful and timid base. However, the comments of Donald Trump provoked my suspicion that Americans' love affair with the gun and war (with other people's skin in the game) creates cowards. The Donald said:
You can say what you want, but if they had guns -- if our people had guns, if they were allowed to carry -- it would have been a much, much different situation.
Other conservative notables urged war, not as an ally of France, but, rather, out of fear that 'they' would be next. Senator Ted Cruz said:
... the US should not allow jihadists to come back to America using US passports to murder innocent men and women...
As if allowing a small number of Syrian refugees would endanger life in the US as we know it. Where does this fear come from? The Republican candidates are serving a hot plate of fear to their followers who relish the dish. Where does this gullibility and fear originate? My answer is cowardice. A Baltimore Sun editorial summed it up best:
If the point of terrorism is to inflame, divide and frighten, surely the best response is to do just the opposite -- to not give in to rage and anger and blindly lash out, to unite and not fan the flames of fear. After the awful attacks on Paris by ISIS last Friday, the French people found their voice in a few simple words, "Je suis Paris" or "I am Paris," a showing of solidarity and support. Meanwhile, nine [now 29] U.S. governors, at last count, demonstrated how not to respond to terrorism, announcing that they oppose allowing Syrian refugees to settle in their states.
See the difference? One reflects compassion, unity and strength. The other is a quick cave to the terrorists, a signal that even before authorities can conduct a full investigation of the attacks to discover what, if any, role the recent wave of immigration from Syria might have played in them, governors in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Texas and Michigan are throwing out the white flag and pointing a finger at people who are themselves seeking to escape terrorism...
Every major Republican candidate for president shrieked outrage over President Obama's thoughtful explanation of the US strategy to end the contagion known as ISIS. While stoking their carefully tended anti-immigrant fires high with the fear of Syrian refugees coming to wage jihad, the candidates hid behind calls for yet more military action. Threatening use of the military is the low-cost Republican substitute for actual courage and rational planning.
Well over a decade of military action failed to bring resolution to the Middle East chaos; a fact simply ignored by Republican candidates who may become president. Calling for a military response is the easy answer and the one expected and hoped for by ISIS. Unable to govern and being increasingly unable to launch military offensives, ISIS must provoke war to recruit and justify their existence. Failed states like Libya and oppressive dictatorships like Egypt, along with the west, where young men are often filled with rage at a society where they feel unfairly undervalued provide the human fodder.
Nonsense statements like Trump's made concerning "if they had guns," again displays a juvenile braggadocio belying reality. Terrorists do not allow for reaction. All the guns in the world will not aid the citizens slaughtered without warning in a terrorist attack. The Miller's terrorist attack on two armed Las Vegas police officers while they ate lunch provides a sad, yet perfect example. A terrorist's intent is maximum damage -- better to kill, not fight. After every US domestic terrorist attack, frightened people go and purchase more guns that will just further endanger, rather than protect, them.
Cowardly political rhetoric does not reflect America's better angels whose values, written by Emma Lazarus, are inscribed on the Statue of Liberty:
Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses, yearning to breath free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore, Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door.
Contrary to what some people are saying, these real American values remain unchanged. The nativist, the racist and the coward existed then, as they do now, and sadly, at times in our past, we have denied these values. This nation turned away helpless European Jewish refugees prior to, and during, World War II. Regardless of Republican hyperbole and cowardice, now is the time to avoid making a similar tragic mistake. From the Baltimore Sun:
"...This isn't prudent behavior (even with the mounting evidence of Syrian links to the Paris attackers), it's cheap, panicked, cowardly and irrational xenophobia and, for lack of a better word, un-American."