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Nov 25 2015

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

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Trevor Timm: Obama kept his cool after the Paris attacks. Too bad his critics haven’t

Judging by the range of irrational responses to the Paris attacks, you’d think we have learned absolutely nothing from the last 14 years of constant war and destruction in the Middle East. Worse, the president is one of the few people being somewhat rational about the whole situation – and he is receiving nothing but criticism for it. […]

If Obama is taking a hit for his calm and rational rhetoric, then that’s a shame, because he’s actually the only one responding the way he should: by not elevating Isis to the status its members crave. “The most powerful tool we have to fight Isil is to say that we’re not afraid, to not elevate them, to not buy into their fantasy that they’re doing something important,” Obama said the other day. “They are a bunch of killers with good social media.”

He was criticized for the remark, but he’s exactly right. We often elevate these terrorists as “masterminds” and present them as grand warriors who we must upend our lives and our values to go to all-out war to stop. Obama’s getting ripped for approaching this like a “law professor”, but after decades of approaching this emotionally and ending in disaster, maybe a little logic is in order.

Naomi Klein: What’s really at stake at the Paris climate conference now marches are banned

Whose security gets protected by any means necessary? Whose security is casually sacrificed, despite the means to do so much better? Those are the questions at the heart of the climate crisis, and the answers are the reason climate summits so often end in acrimony and tears.

The French government’s decision to ban protests, marches and other “outdoor activities” during the Paris climate summit is disturbing on many levels. The one that preoccupies me most has to do with the way it reflects the fundamental inequity of the climate crisis itself – and that core question of whose security is ultimately valued in our lopsided world. [..]

In explaining why forthcoming football matches would go on as scheduled, France’s secretary of state for sport said: “Life must go on.” Indeed it must. That’s why I joined the climate justice movement. Because when governments and corporations fail to act in a way that reflects the value of all of life on Earth, they must be protested.

David Cay Johnston: No Western ground troops against ISIL

The attacks by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) this month in Paris and Beirut and the bombing a Russian jetliner over Egypt last month undoubtedly require a vigorous response.

But any response fashioned without a deep understanding of how past policies have created the current conditions in the Middle East runs a huge risk of creating global violence for decades and perhaps even centuries to come.

ISIL has no capacity to invade the United States or Europe. But it can make life unpleasant by deploying true believers to set off bombs, fire guns and disperse biological and chemical weapons.

A smart response requires a thorough understanding of what motivates ISIL’s leaders, what draws some zealous young people to die for the cause and how to exploit ISIL’s internal theological contradictions to discredit its religious claims.

We can’t kill our way out of this problem, but that seems to be the approach favored by French President François Hollande. The presence of French or American troops fighting ISIL would just help ISIL recruiting by lending credence to its claims that Christians have launched a crusade against Islam.

Steven W. Thrasher: The men who shot at the Minneapolis protesters want to scare all black people

When gun-toting alleged white supremacists shot up a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest outside a police station in Minneapolis on Monday night, leaving five people wounded and terrorizing Black Lives Matter activists locally and nationally, I was sad, but not surprised. This is how America rolls: we are a nation founded and still peopled by white people enacting violence against people of color.

In the older lynching era, it wasn’t uncommon for civilians to take matters into their hands whenever black Americans gained a little political or economic ground. But under the KKK hoods were quite often members of local law enforcement. [..]

Indeed for black America, just as lynching was meant to to, this attack has created threatening injuries to our social life. The movement for black lives will continue to thrive: it keeps getting stronger week by week, from the streets of Ferguson to college campuses across the country. But black community suffers life threatening injuries whenever something like this happens.

Good and strong people will rise up despite the threats to their lives, but the work will be harder, and the toll on black psyches and spirits will be great as a result of both the violence of the police and civilian shooters in Minneapolis.

Chelsea E. Manning: We must not let Isis’s crimes dictate how we address the refugee crisis – or privacy

Following the horrific attacks by Isis terrorists in Paris and Beirut, we have rapidly seen blatant pandering to xenophobia on a disturbing scale and scope. Leaders throughout the US and Europe have demanded that authorities stifle the flow of migrants seeking asylum, and to increase the size and depths of intelligence and law enforcement powers in the US and Europe.

I don’t have all the answers – but I do know that blaming minority groups, refugees and immigrants, investing in gigantic surveillance platforms and calling for expansive legal authority and the creation of a neo-Gestapo and panopticon-style police state aren’t one of them.

Even in the weeks and months before the attacks, rightwing parties in Europe – most notably the National Front in France – have attempted to exploit a rising xenophobic sentiment following this year’s influx of migrants seeking refuge from Syria, Iraq and other parts of the Middle East. Immediately following the attacks such fears have “gone viral” in a way that is disturbing and frightening.