Editorial: Orlando’s tragedy, GOP’s folly, Trump’s transgressions
In the aftermath of the Orlando massacre late Saturday night, what should appall all Americans is Trump’s assault on the basic values of Americanism — our respect for common decency, our sense of justice and tolerance of religious beliefs. Trump’s lack thereof was an embarrassment to many top leaders of the Republican Party, and an outrage to almost everyone else in the U.S. and the western world. Even House Speaker Paul Ryan, the leading congressional Republican, rejected Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric and his call for a ban on Muslims entering the country.
But what is really galling is the complicity among many Republicans leaders and their supporters across the country. Polls show more than 55 percent of Republicans support Trump’s call for a ban on Muslim immigration. It demonstrates, more than anything to date, the party’s moral collapse and an acute level of ignorance.
In terms of understanding one specific point of Trump’s criticism of the president, Obama chooses not to lump all acts of terror by a Muslim under the term “radical Islam” because that plays into the hands of groups like ISIS and Al Qaeda to create the perception of a holy war between Islam and America. Obama resists labeling all Muslims under the term of “radical Islam” because that would serve their interest. “They want to claim that they (the radical Islamists) are the true leaders of over a billion Muslims around the world who reject their crazy notions.”
Implying that these terrorists speak for all of Islam aids their propaganda, Obama explains. “That’s how they recruit. And if we fall into the trap of painting all Muslims with a broad brush, and imply that we are at war with an entire religion,” Obama says, “then we are doing the terrorists’ work for them.”
That Trump and other national Republican leaders can’t understand that simple nuance is what’s truly frightening.
And then there are the facts that Trump simply ignores. The alleged Orlando gunman, Omar Mateen, was American — born and raised. Trump’s suggested action, in other words, is all bluster. His plan is not only ludicrous, dangerous and a betrayal of our nation’s best interest, but banning all Muslim immigrants would not have stopped the mass shooting, and it completely misses the point.
Mateen was emotionally unstable and violent, according to his former wife and acquaintances. He was investigated by the FBI and put on their terror watch list for two years, but failing to find any illegal actions the FBI could not arrest him. The only action that might have prevented the Orlando shooting was stricter gun control measures.
Had the Republican Congress not rejected a recent bill to ban the sale of assault weapons or rejected a Democratic-sponsored bill that would have banned the sale of arms to those on the FBI’s terror watch list, the Orlando shooting might have been prevented. The fact is, Mateen bought the automatic assault rifle and a pistol just before the attack — simple as that, and even though he had been on the FBI’s terror watch list.
A shameful lack of gun-control legislation is directly to blame for the Orlando killings. Each politician and each NRA member who has fought against such sensible gun control measures — the ban on automatic assault weapons and against gun restrictions for those on the FBI watch list — bears responsibility. Surely some reason on these issues will prevail.
Trump, ironically, could salvage a modicum of respect on the issue if he suddenly breaks with past GOP dogma and leads the rank-and-file to support a ban on assault weapons and gun sales to those who are currently on the FBI terror watch list. That would be small consolation for Trump’s transgressions, and would no doubt anger some, but it would allow him to take center stage on the issue and mute some of the worldwide criticism rapidly mounting against him.
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