The latest political storm is around Donald Trump's comments yesterday about blocking all Muslims from coming into the United States. His comments are shown at right.
Pretty much everyone's reaction (that we can see on tv and online) is that his comments were absurd. Jeb Bush referred to him as "unhinged." Lindsey Graham said this morning that we need to tell Trump "to go to Hell." The list of criticisms goes on and on.
The impetus for Trump's comments is fueled by many things I am sure. However, there are three key recent contributors to it genesis. First, we are in some sort of war-like conflict with ISIS. Second, the recent Paris killings. Finally, the San Bernardino killings by two radicalized Muslims living her in the U.S..
My initial reaction to Trump's comments were "what the heck is he doing now" and "why would he even say something like that?" I immediately thought of the 1995 bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City, which I covered as a photojournalist for the NY Times.
Timothy McVeigh, born in Lockport, NY, killed 168 people and injured more than 680 others that day. I remember that once he was found, I drove to the jail where he was held and when they brought him out, the crowd was yelling at him as he was stuffed into the waiting police vehicle. The reaction by everyone was horror, terror and left everyone asking "why".
However, no one said at the time, or since, that I am aware of, let's not let anyone from New York cross the state lines into Oklahoma. That would be ridiculous. How could it even be implemented if we wanted to do it?
On the surface, that is what Trump appears to be saying about Muslims. ISIS, the Paris murderers and the San Bernardino murderers all are Muslim. If Muslims could be and do all those awful things, then why would we want them to come to the United States?
The easy answer is that not all Muslims subscribe to those radical jihadist actions. Why we would want to treat all Muslims the same?
The answer is that we DO NOT. I don't believe that Trump even wants to treat them all the same.
Now, this the part of this post that gets very logic oriented. It will likely infuriate some as the logic goes against the prevailing winds of outrage.
If you believe that ISIS and some small subset of the total Muslim population want to do more harm here in the U.S., then you may be drawn to the question of how can we stop them from doing so. This is where it gets dicey.
Logically speaking, the ONLY way to make sure that there are no more events in the U.S. committed by Muslims, is to not have any Muslims at all living here in the country. Let me be clear, I am not advocating for that, I am simply pointing out the logical argument.
Trump says he wants to keep America safe. I believe he views ISIS and radicalized Muslims as one of the greatest threats to our country. Because of that, his simplistic answer that has so many apoplectic, is to not let any Muslims in.
His spokesperson Katrina Pierson said this morning that his statement was based upon and confined to the narrow topic of immigration. Again, going to the logical argument, the question is "Why would we let anyone, Muslims in this case, into the country until we had a process that provides high-level of accuracy as to any potential threat they could pose to our country and our people.
The logic is there.
The problem is that logic and what we stand for as Americans, collide. This leads me to what is the question of the day: how do we hold on to our ideals and at the same time keep ourselves safe.
At the end of the day, what is more important? Would we rather risk many more being killed at the expense of our ideals or would we rather relax from ideology in order to keep ourselves as safe as possible?
I know it is much easier to ASK questions than it is to ANSWER them.
I have seen non-stop coverage of Trump today on television. Literally non-stop. I have seen several people refer to him as hateful. Honestly, I do not know with certainty that hate is his motivation. I have no idea.
However, I have to posit if it is possible that love is part of his calculation. Could it be possible that he loves our country and its people so much that he truly wants to to do everything, and anything, to protect it and us?
Again, I do not know the answer.
The following chart shows a quick poll of the response by likely Republican voters to Trump's statement. This info is from Bloomberg Politics (@bpolitics) on Twitter.