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Aug 05 2019

Pondering the Pundits

Pondering 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 “Pondering the Pundits”.

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Ali H. Soufran: I Spent 25 Years Fighting Jihadis. White Supremacists Aren’t So Different. 

We can’t fight domestic terror groups efficiently until the law treats them the way we treat foreign ones.

When a young Muslim man, self-radicalized online, kills in the name of Islamist ideology, we have no trouble calling him a terrorist and connecting him with groups like ISIS. When a young white man, similarly self-radicalized, kills in the name of racist ideology — even when he publishes a manifesto to that effect — we tend to call him disturbed. We speak about him as a troubled loner, rather than a member of a wider network.

The disparities are not limited to cultural perceptions. America’s law enforcement agencies, intelligence community and court system all treat these two scenarios differently. Those differences in treatment mask instructive similarities between these two forms of organized hate. Having spent almost 25 years fighting jihadi terrorism here and abroad, I see disturbing parallels between the rise of Al Qaeda in the 1990s and that of racist terrorism today.

White supremacists, like their Islamist counterparts, explicitly seek to use violence to create a climate of fear and chaos that can then be exploited to reshape society in their own image. Their recruitment videos share an emphasis on the lifestyle they purport to offer recruits — one of “purity,” militancy and physical fitness. While jihadis share beheading videos, right-wing extremists glory in the live streaming of the deadly attack on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. While Islamic State supporters communicate through an online platform called Telegram, white supremacists tend to do so through another platform, 8chan.

Charles M. Blow: Terror and Policy: 2 Sides of White Nationalism

The white supremacist terrorists and the white supremacist policymakers share the same mission.

Be warned: There is nothing soothing and uplifting in this column. I will not somberly mourn and point to our better angel and American resilience. This is not that kind of column.

I have a warning to deliver, a truth to tell, and it is as unsettling as it is obvious. [..]

It is not lost on me that this summer is the 100th anniversary of the “Red Summer,” when violent anti-black white supremacists rioted in cities across the country, killing many, just as the Great Migration — the mass migration of millions of black people mostly from the rural South to the urban North — was getting underway. Violence is the way the white terrorists respond to demographic shifts and demographic threat.

It’s not simply a matter of whether Trump’s rhetoric, or that of any other politician, led these shooters to do what they did. Maybe. It is also about recognizing that all of these people are on the same team and share the same mission and eat from the same philosophical trough. It’s just that their methods differ. The white supremacist terrorists and the white supremacist policymakers are bound at the hip.

Paul Waldman: How Trump’s biggest broken promise will make white supremacist terrorism even worse

In the wake of two horrific mass shootings over the weekend, particularly the one in El Paso where 20 people were allegedly murdered by a man who apparently left an online message echoing some of the themes of President Trump’s rhetoric, many have been putting blame at least partially at the president’s feet. We can debate how justified that is, but for the moment I want to shift focus just a little. There’s another vital question we need to ask: not whether Trump is inspiring murderers, but whether he is now, and will in the future, disappoint them in ways that could lead to more deadly violence. [..]

In 2016, with his disturbingly sharp instinct for locating and stimulating the worst in people, Trump understood something other Republicans missed. The party’s base was angry and hungry, hungry for someone who would dispense with dog whistles and insinuations and give explicit voice to their rage and resentments. Trump gave it to them, and over and over again we still hear it from his supporters: “He says what I’m feeling.”

For many of them, that’s enough. To hear their sentiments echoed from the highest office in the land provides enormous satisfaction, even if the results don’t match the rhetoric.

But others, the less stable and the more heavily armed, will not be assuaged. They may well see in Trump’s presidency nothing but failure. After all, didn’t he promise a return to when people like them were on top? The Muslims would be banned, the minorities would be shown their place, a “big beautiful wall” would be built from the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico — and Mexico would pay for it.

Jennifer Rubin: Democratic candidates grasp the moral seriousness of this moment

On Sunday, in the wake of two more horrific mass shootings, one inspired by the hateful replacement conspiracy-mongering that casts immigrants as “invaders” and less than human (e.g., “infestation,” “animals”), the Democratic presidential candidates seized the high ground and, in the absence of a president who could exert moral leadership, directed attention to the central challenges we face: A white nationalist-supporting president and a country flooded with semiautomatic guns. The toxic combination has created a pandemic of hate crimes and mass violence the likes of which we have never experienced in America.

The candidates grasped the moral seriousness of the moment. [..]

It was quite a transformation from last week’s debates in which candidates were scolding one another and castigating President Barack Obama’s legacy rather than focusing on President Trump. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) dredged up a nearly 40-year-old op-ed to accuse former vice president Joe Biden of opposition to working women, an accusation so at odds with what we know of Biden — a single father after losing his first wife, married to Dr. Jill Biden, advocate of issues such as equal pay — that it not only fell flat but also made Gillibrand seem desperate. Likewise, attacks on Obama, the au

thor of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, for excessive deportations sounded weird when the current president is ripping children from parents arms and stoking white nationalism. And after Dayton and El Paso, these tactics seem even more ludicrously tone deaf.

Robert J. Spitzer: There’s No Second Amendment Right to Large-Capacity Magazines

But conservative judges may block common-sense measures for a long time to come.

The right-wing political extremist who gunned down nearly two dozen people at an El Paso Walmart on Saturday and the man who shot and killed nine people only hours later in a downtown area of Dayton, Ohio, both unleashed their savage attacks thanks to military-style rifles. Just as culpable for the carnage, however, were the large-capacity magazines that enabled these shooters to discharge many rounds of ammo without reloading.

Once all the rounds in a magazine are fired, reloading takes time. That chunk of time is often the crucial moment in which citizens are able to flee (or fight) and law enforcement is able to arrive and gain some control of the situation. When shooters can fire off dozens of shots before reloading, the potential for mass casualties heightens.

The lethality of military-style rifles is self-evident: Six of the deadliest mass shootings in the last 10 years all included military-style firearms. But large-capacity magazines — generally defined as ammunition-feeding devices holding more than 10 rounds — are arguably even more dangerous than the guns themselves: A study last year found roughly half of recent mass shootings involved them. A growing consensus among criminologists is that, as deadly as military-style weapons are, the critical factor that multiplies the mayhem is not necessarily the style of the weapon but the size of the magazines.

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