May 20th, 2022


Dems' terror compassion gap

Glenn Reynolds

By Glenn Reynolds

Published Dec. 21, 2015

Democrats are supposed to be the party of compassion, but lately a lot of Americans are feeling as if the Obama administration doesn't much care about them. The reason is terrorism and the way Obama and Hillary Clinton have responded to it.

After the San Bernardino attacks — which now look as if they might have been even worse, with a little bad luck — people are beginning to wonder if the federal government and the Obama administration actually care about protecting them. And the Obama administration hasn't done much to ease those fears.

After terrorists linked to the Islamic State perpetrated a massacre, President Obama waited days to go on TV, and then delivered a limp speech about gun control and the importance of avoiding Islamophobia.

Then The New York Times revealed that immigration officials don't read the public social media accounts of visa applicants like one of the San Bernardino killers because some at the Department of Homeland Security think it isn't "appropriate." Never mind that Tashfeen Malik had announced her interest in "violent jihad" for the world to see.

So when a Homeland Security whistleblower told Fox News that in 2012 federal authorities had called off an investigation of terror supporters in San Bernardino, ordering the files be deleted, his claims didn't seem far-fetched. The whistleblower alleges that officials at the Department of Homeland Security and the State Department (then headed by current Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton) were afraid that this investigation might constitute "religious profiling."

That's yet to be confirmed, but if visa examiners are afraid to pry into applicants' public Facebook profiles, it wouldn't be a surprise to find out that terrorism investigators were told to ignore the Islamic part of "Islamic terrorism."

It's gotten so bad that even the reliably liberal and pro-Obama Piers Morgan is writing that Donald Trump's plan for a temporary ban on Muslim immigration is dumb, but Obama's do-nothing approach is even dumber. Morgan writes: "The reason Trump's new, stunningly divisive message is resonating with so many Americans is that none of his opponents seems to have a clue how better to deal with this deadly threat, especially President Obama. ... As Obama is seen to be fiddling while Rome burns, Trump is seen, whether you agree with him or not, to at least have an understanding of the immediacy and scale of the threat and a clear determination to try and deal with it. ... [Obama] sounded utterly devoid of any real new ideas on how to tackle ISIS, whose military and economic power strengthens every day. He spoke in weary tones of how we were going to beat them but nobody listening to him could have felt remotely convinced that he has a clue how this will actually happen. His current strategy clearly isn't working, yet all he promises is more of the same. Obama's whole attitude to ISIS has always been breathtakingly complacent, and now this casual approach has come back to haunt him."

Yes. When we talk about "compassion" in American politics, it usually involves some sort of scheme to give poor people money. But compassion ultimately comes down to caring what happens to people, and when Obama acts as if he doesn't take the threat of Islamic terrorism in America seriously, he's sending a signal that he doesn't care what happens to Americans who might be victims of terrorism or even about Americans who are worried about becoming victims.

The pressure to downplay the threat of the Islamic State is so severe that dozens of Defense Department analysts are complaining their reports are being distorted to cover for a failing policy to address the terrorist group in Syria and Iraq.

When his Democratic allies turn to mocking people who worry about terrorism even as The New York Times reports that Americans are more worried about terrorism than they've been since the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, it seems as if they don't care about Americans, or what Americans think.

Americans are worried about terror, and they're worried that they have a president who doesn't care what happens to them. As Piers Morgan notes, that's bad for the Democrats. But, ultimately, it's bad for the country.

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Glenn Harlan Reynolds, a University of Tennessee law professor, is the author of The New School: How the Information Age Will Save American Education from Itself and is a columnist at USA TODAY.