Getting serious about terrorism

By Gary Abernathy - [email protected]

The actor Rob Lowe, currently starring in a new and very funny ABC sitcom called “The Grinder,” caught flak over the weekend because of a tweet he sent following the terrorist attacks in Paris.

After hearing that France had announced it was closing its borders, Lowe tweeted, “Oh, NOW France closes its borders.”

In Hollywood, there is only one accepted political philosophy, and it starts with an “L” and ends in “iberal.” The admitted conservatives in Tinsel Town are so few that short lists containing their names have always been popular features online, among other oddities like pictures of two-headed snakes. Lowe’s comments were predictably condemned by many of his fellow thespians.

Speaking of knee-jerk reactions, I caught parts of “Meet the Press” and “This Week,” both of which featured guests predicting that the Paris terrorist attacks might “finally” signal the end of “outsider” candidates like Donald Trump and Ben Carson (Carly Fiorina cannot get any meaningful traction, it seems). According to the talking heads, voters will now get serious about who they support and will lean more toward the experienced over the shiny and new.

Carson seems to be on a downward descent anyway thanks to his own rather odd recollections of his supposedly bad-boy youth, stories which were rather amusingly parodied on “Saturday Night Live” over the weekend.

But Trump? If anything, the terrorism in France and the country’s reaction to it, referenced by Lowe, seem to play right into The Donald’s hands. Which candidate has spent the most time harping on the need to control our borders, to build a wall, to actually deport the illegal immigrants living in the U.S.? If you answer anything but “Donald Trump,” you haven’t been paying close attention.

To be clear, I don’t entirely agree with Trump’s spiel on immigration, particularly the deportation part. Regardless of what President Eisenhower did in the 1950s, rounding up and deporting 11 or 12 million illegal immigrants is not feasible nor particularly desirable, even if Trump says he will do it, and even if he says we will love how he does it, as we will love everything else he does, according to Trump.

But he is right to keep attention focused on this subject, because foolishness is sometimes being confused with compassion when it comes to our porous borders and those of other nations.

What did Trump say after the Paris attacks? He didn’t issue some long-winded, carefully-worded, politically correct statement about how tragic it was, about how it was an attack on all free people, and how we stand shoulder to shoulder with France. Instead, Trump criticized the gun control laws in France and said that if the people there had guns, the outcome would have been different. Most political consultants fainted.

I still don’t know if Trump is for real, but I’ll admit I’m cheering for him to stick around as long as possible. I can’t help but enjoy how he confounds the experts, particularly the national media types. Watching someone run for president spout mostly conservative viewpoints who has nothing to lose, no one to pander to, no donors to placate, no built-in constituency to flatter is the freshest breath of political air in decades. It’s probably a recipe for disaster in the long run, but while it lasts it is pure joy.

The opposite of joy is Ohio Gov. John Kasich, based on the last GOP debate. Kasich has tried hard to fashion himself as the adult in the room, the one who is most practical, dealing in reality and best positioned to win a General Election, not just a Republican primary campaign. His problem is that he is first running in a Republican primary campaign.

Kasich has generally done a good job in Ohio, but what we see re-emerging lately is his long-held personal certainty that he is the smartest guy in any room, and his conclusion that it’s time for everyone else to shut up and just do what he says. His frustration was evident at the last debate. While Carson will be the favorite of evangelicals for a while longer, the GOP race will likely come down to Trump, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz.

Even in the wake of the Paris attacks, many politicians, including President Obama, Hillary Clinton, and sometimes Rand Paul, continue to talk about sending troops to war – or putting “boots on the ground” – only as a last resort, an act so dreadful we dare not even think about it.

In a perfect world, we never have wars. But we have all noticed from time to time that the world is not perfect. I imagine that the “last resort” attitudes and pledges from some politicians are taken as insults by our men and women in the military. The soldiers and sailors in our all-volunteer armed forces are there specifically to defend our nation and to fight wars. They are the best-trained fighting forces on earth, when they are actually permitted to fight to win rather than to “contain.”

Last-resort thinking too often results in responding only after hundreds or thousands of innocent lives are lost. The zealot terrorists are already taking the fight to their targets’ turf, and the more we do now to destroy their bases of operation, the less we will have open warfare in our own streets.

The obvious first step in defeating terrorism at home sooner than later is getting serious about border security today. America is a nation of immigrants and we should always guarantee and support legal immigration. But the gate must be made much narrower than it is now. One horrific act in the U.S. will have all who are fortunate to survive tweeting a few hours later, “Oh, NOW we close our borders.”

Reach Gary Abernathy at 937-393-3456 or on Twitter @abernathygary.

By Gary Abernathy

[email protected]