Our war on ter­ror is clouded by fog and noise

Cecil Whig - - OPINON - Ruben Navarette Jr.

— In the af­ter­math of the worst mass shoot­ing in mod­ern U.S. his­tory, and what ap­pears to be the lat­est at­tack by an Is­lamic mil­i­tant on U.S. soil, it’s es­sen­tial for Amer­i­cans to know our en­e­mies. We have two: fog and noise.

Fog is what politi­cians cre­ate to keep Amer­i­cans from see­ing what they don’t want us to see. They’d rather we stay fo­cused on nar­ra­tives that ben­e­fit them and hurt their op­po­nents.

Noise is what the me­dia gen­er­ate to steer the dis­cus­sion to­ward what they see as the real prob­lems and away from an­gles of the story that make ad­ver­tis­ers squea-


mish. Re­porters have no prob­lem talking about the fact that there are too many guns in Amer­ica, but they are care­ful to point out that an as­sailant who is Mus­lim is also a U.S. cit­i­zen.

There is a lot that will make peo­ple un­com­fort­able in the story about how 29-year-old Omar Ma­teen grabbed a semi-au­to­matic ri­fle, walked into a gay night­club in Or­lando early Sun­day morn­ing and mowed down dozens of peo­ple — killing 49, and wound­ing 53 more.

For in­stance, Don­ald Trump doesn’t want to talk about how easy it is for Amer­i­cans to buy mil­i­tary­grade weapons of mass mur­der, or how the mas­sacre il­lus­trates that ho­mo­pho­bia can help pro­duce a na­tional tragedy.

In­stead, Trump cre­ates fog by im­ply­ing that Pres­i­dent Obama may have ad- di­tional in­sights into these at­tacks that he is keep­ing hid­den from the Amer­i­can peo­ple. Dur­ing an in­ter­view on Fox News, Trump said: Obama “doesn’t get it. Or he gets it bet­ter than any­body un­der­stands.”

Mean­while, Obama and other Democrats seem to pre­tend there is no war against Is­lamic mil­i­tants. And so they have no in­ter­est in en­gag­ing the Amer­i­can peo­ple in an un­com­fort­able but nec­es­sary dis­cus­sion about whether the Or­lando car­nage — along with an at­tack on po­lice of­fi­cers Mon­day by an Is­lamic State sym­pa­thizer in France; the bomb­ings in Brus­sels in March; the at­tack on a hol­i­day party in San Bernardino last De­cem­ber; and the mur­der­ous ram­page through­out Paris last Novem­ber — is part of a mas­sive global as­sault by Is­lamic mil­i­tants in- tent on killing in­fi­dels wher­ever they’re found.

In­stead, Democrats cre­ate the fog that this is pri­mar­ily about guns and the un­de­ni­able head­lock in which the Na­tional Ri­fle As­so­ci­a­tion has Congress. They’re also ea­ger to talk about the need to in­crease tol­er­ance and de­crease hate crimes to­ward the LGBT com­mu­nity but they’re squea­mish about en­cour­ag­ing more ha­tred or vi­o­lence to­ward Mus­lim Amer­i­cans.

It’s a tough spot for the left. It would be more con­ve­nient if the shooter be­longed to the tea party. You have to feel bad for the lib­eral who wants to take a stand against ho­mo­pho­bia but doesn’t want to con­trib­ute to Is­lam­o­pho­bia.

But this is also a tough spot for the right. It’s sur­real to watch Trump talk about how peo­ple out­side the Unit- ed States “hate” us, when he has, in the last year, worked so hard to stir up ha­tred against so many groups of peo­ple in the United States.

Af­ter all, it was “Latin Night” at the club in Or­lando and so many of the de­ceased have names like So­tomayor, Almod­ovar, Martinez and Ve­lazquez. Hasn’t this com­mu­nity of Amer­i­cans suf­fered enough? Is the new mes­sage to Lati­nos: If Trump doesn’t get you, a ter­ror­ist will?

These peo­ple were al­ready on the out­skirts of the Amer­i­can ex­pe­ri­ence, told im­plic­itly by Trump and other con­ser­va­tives that their loy­al­ties lay with the coun­tries that their par­ents and grand­par­ents em­i­grated from and that they weren’t real Amer­i­cans.

Ma­teen didn’t see it that way. These vic­tims were real Amer­i­cans to him. Real enough to be killed as sym­bols of a coun­try that the Is­lamic State is at war with, whether most of the peo­ple who live in that coun­try re­al­ize it or not.

How about we take a break from be­ing in­ter­na­tional so­cial work­ers and so­ci­etal en­gi­neers try­ing to build the world’s most en­light­ened so­ci­ety and con­cen­trate on telling the truth?

Amer­i­cans would have to be deaf, dumb and blind not to hear the mes­sage be­ing broad­cast from the dark corners of the Mid­dle East. Af­ter the Or­lando mas­sacre, a spokesman for the Is­lamic State called Ma­teen “one of the sol­diers for the caliphate in Amer­ica.”

Don’t look now, but the fog may be lift­ing.

Ruben Navarette Jr. is a syn­di­cated colum­nist from the Wash­ing­ton Post.

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