Americans want less politically correct rhetoric and more action.
BOB: The terrorist attack in San Bernardino, Calif., which killed 14 and wounded 21, is the deadliest of its kind on U.S. soil since 9/11. Coming on the heels of the Paris attack, which killed at least 120, a state of fear has taken hold across America. Putting fear into people is the principal goal of terrorists, and they have been successful. The question is, where do we go from here?
CAL: As you have courageously said, one step should be to put a hold on the visas granted to students and others from countries that breed terrorists. Thousands have absconded after their visas expired, and the government can’t locate them. The Islamic State terrorist group has claimed that its sympathizers are among the refugee-immigrants coming to Europe, which means they’re likely among the refugees coming to the United States. We disbelieve them at our peril. In his Sunday night address, President Obama said he has ordered a “review” of the visa program under which San Bernardino terrorist Tashfeen Malik entered the USA. That’s a start.
BOB: After 9/11, terrorism became a major issue in American politics, but in recent years the public’s fear of terrorism receded as a political concern. The events in Paris and San Bernardino have changed that. Suddenly, terrorism has become the top issue in the 2016 presidential race, forcing candidates of both parties to address it. The responses ran from reasonable (Hillary Clinton’s call for more special operations troops in Iraq) to the absurd (Donald Trump’s call for profiling Muslims in the U.S., including Muslim Americans).
CAL: People want action. They are tired of a defeatist mentality. America is used to winning, not losing, and certainly not passivity in the face of threats. Trump is gaining in popularity because he is perceived — rightly or wrongly — as having convictions. He is channeling the anger many feel. Americans are tired of waiting around for the next terrorist attack, followed by political statements from people who have the ultimate in security telling us we are not at war with a religious-political ideology. Ask the wounded and relatives of the dead if they believe that.
BOB: In a rare address from the Oval Office to the nation Sunday night, President Obama branded the San Bernardino shootings an act of terrorism committed by a husband and wife who “had gone down the dark path of radicalization.” Obama said we would defeat ISIL and other terrorist organizations that followed a “perverted interpretation of Islam.” The president also renewed his call for gun control measures, which immediately drew cries from Republicans who attacked Obama for suggesting more gun control laws would reduce terrorism.
CAL: I am still waiting for an explanation of how more laws would deter people who don’t obey current laws. Terrorists go after soft targets in “gun free zones.” If they think their potential targets are armed, it might deter them better than more laws and political rhetoric.
BOB: The fact still remains that the assault weapons used by terrorists Syed Farook and wife Malik were bought legally in California. The president called on Congress to pass a bill making it illegal for those people on the anti-terrorist no-fly list to buy guns in the United States. That seems like a no-brainer, but some Republicans and the powerful NRA oppose such a law. Pure insanity.
CAL: I don’t have a problem with that. But while he’s at it, how about dealing with the 72 people (and possibly more) on the no-fly list who are employed by the Department of Homeland Security? Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., disclosed that number following an investigation by the inspector general. Growing numbers of Americans, as revealed in opinion polls, feel that not enough is being done to protect us, and that political correctness seems more important than common sense.
BOB: President Obama urged Americans to stay the current course against ISIL and other terrorist groups. I’m afraid that is not going to sell to a frightened electorate. Obama is sending 50 commandos to Syria. That is not nearly enough. With our allies in Europe now joining the war against terrorism in the wake of Paris, it is time for us to send ground troops to confront ISIL. If our allies stick with us, this is exactly the right time to go on the offensive against radical Islam.
CAL: You are exactly right, Bob. I salute you for your realism. War should always be a last resort, but we have been attacked and will be targeted again and again unless we go on offense. This war is different from all the others America has fought. There are no fronts, no Berlin or Tokyo, and there will be no surrender ceremony should this war ever end. One component should be the destruction of the terrorist base in Syria and the prevention of ISIL from establishing a foothold in any other country. Your party’s leaders should pay attention to your voice.