Post-Orlando discussion shows how ISIS threat might be ‘existential’

Terry DeCarlo, executive director of the LGBT Center of Central Florida, is comforted by Orlando City Commissioner Patty Sheehan, right, after a shooting at a nightclub in Orlando on Sunday. (AP Photo / Phelan M. Ebenhack)

Terry DeCarlo, executive director of the LGBT Center of Central Florida, is comforted by Orlando City Commissioner Patty Sheehan, right, after a shooting at a nightclub in Orlando on Sunday. (AP Photo / Phelan M. Ebenhack)

Three months ago, after a different mass killing by ISIS loyalists, President Barack Obama made a claim about the limits of the Islamic State’s ability to harm us:

“Groups like ISIL,” Obama said, using a different name for the group, “can’t destroy us, they can’t defeat us. … They’re not an existential threat to us.”

In the strictest sense of the word “existential,” Obama was correct. It is almost unfathomable that the would-be caliphate could engage the United States militarily, defeat us and take control over our territory. But Americans have always thought of ourselves as the sum of more than blood and soil. Subscribe to what it means to be an American, and you can be one of us.

So what if, instead of killing us all, these Islamic radicals are merely trying to kill some of the long-essential elements of what it means to be Americans? Wouldn’t that be an “existential threat” of a different kind?

One needed only to peek at social media Sunday as word got out about the atrocity in Orlandoat least 50 dead and dozens more wounded in a shooting at a gay nightclub — to see what I’m talking about. As is by now numbingly predictable, the discussion quickly turned from horror at what had happened to outrage about what people many miles from Orlando were for or against.

According to multiple reports, the killer, a 29-year-old man of Afghani descent, called 911 beforehand to “pledge allegiance to ISIS.” The FBI said agents investigated the man twice in recent years for ties to Islamic extremists. On Sunday afternoon, ISIS claimed responsibility.

Yet, to many of the pundits, politicians and private citizens who felt the need to respond instantly to the news, the “solutions” require us to curtail liberty, in ways they just happen to already support.

There were the likes of Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., who quickly issued an 84-word statement that didn’t mention terrorism, but rather said “the Senate’s inaction on commonsense gun violence prevention makes it complicit in this public health crisis.” He wasn’t alone. Deeming certain murders — only those committed with firearms — a matter of “public health” is a new tactic to push gun-control measures that many Americans oppose as infringements on the Second Amendment, as is claiming senators have blood on their hands every time someone pulls a trigger.

From the opposite end of the spectrum, we got this tweet from Donald Trump, who famously called for a “temporary” ban on Muslims entering the United States:

There are, of course, many Americans who view a religious test on those entering the country as an affront to the First Amendment.

Debating which type of liberty to forgo, in the name of defeating an enemy that would eliminate all liberties, is dreadful enough. It is also futile, when we consider neither side is proposing measures that would actually have prevented these atrocities.

The “commonsense” background checks proposed in the Senate in 2013? They wouldn’t have mattered: The Orlando killer was vetted before buying his weapons, despite being on the FBI’s anti-terror radar.

Trump’s bid to block Muslims from entering the country? No dice there, either: The killer was an American citizen, and Trump has said his ban wouldn’t apply to citizens (though, as always with Trump, one suspects such assurances are subject to change).

There is no clearer of sign of terrorism at hand than the fact our response is to out-bid one another in changing our own character rather than attacking the actual enemy.

Obama almost acknowledged as much in his remarks in March. After the aforementioned comment about an “existential threat,” he said the “primary power” of ISIS, “in addition to killing innocent lives, is to strike fear in our societies, to disrupt our societies, so that the effect cascades from an explosion or an attack by a semi-automatic rifle.”

For a free people, that kind of fear, disruption and cascading effect is as existential as threats come.

Reader Comments 0

216 comments
lvg
lvg

So Idiot Trump won't acknowledge GOP complicity in this tragedy. Obama requested a ban on gun sales to people like this misfit who were on FBI watch list- After getting marching orders from NRA, every member of GOP voted no.Idiot Trump also ignores recent SCOTUS decision allowing a city to ban assault weapon possession and sales.We should be discussing why Georgia will not allow similar city ordinances.

LDH2O
LDH2O

@Lil_Barry_Bailout  Really? You still up late after  your mommy spanked you? You still making up delusions to post? Laurel and Hardy could not make up the lies  you post. AND you still refuse to back up ANYTHING with any facts. Such delusions add nothing to the public discussion.

lvg
lvg

@LDH2O @Lil_Barry_Bailout Unfortunately I must agree with Lil Barry on this!!


The watch list was removed for this bag of dog feces because it could not be proven conclusively he was radicalized after twice visiting Saudi Arabia . Issue to be debated is should a young Muslim male or female who travels to Saudi Arabia or other hot spots of radical Islam have their rights restricted and monitored automatically?For how long?



There are still same holes in out national security as before 9-11 when it comes to Saudi Arabia since everyone is distracted by ISIL and phantom Iranian threats. If Trump had some modicum of intelligence he would verbalize this issue and Hillary's connection to Saudis. 


Kyle could act like a true journalist and follow up on this critical issue.



Where are the missing 9-11 pages about Saudi complicity???



There is a reason Obama will not condemn radical Islam but instead has ended seven decades of US coddling of the Saudis. 

Unlike the Bushes and Reagan, they are not a favored ally due to oil any longer.

They are allied with ISIL and Al Queda in Yemen- will Trump or Hillary continue Obama's efforts? 


Will Muslims travelling to the holy kingdom be more carefully scrutinized ( along with any dirt bag wives)?

Lil_Barry_Bailout
Lil_Barry_Bailout

Omar wasn't on the watch list, and you know why? The Obama administration took him off the watch list.

Fail. After. Fail.

LDH2O
LDH2O

I think Kyle was waaaay too quick on the draw for this article. Blood donators are around the block. Moments of silence all around. Remembrances in our churches. That is the discussion that says ISIS cannot have more than a temporary, isolated affect on us.

Lil_Barry_Bailout
Lil_Barry_Bailout

Guess who was even quicker on the draw--bigots blaming Christians and liberal fascists making a new play for infringements of Our Second Amendment freedoms.

Wake up and smell the coffee (or read the piece you pretend to be commenting on).

LDH2O
LDH2O

@Lil_Barry_Bailout  Yes, I already knew you have the IQ of an 8 year old because ALL you do is post obnoxious statements with ZERO facts. Does your mommy know you are up this late? NOW, if you actually have some thing that is supported by actual factually facts, then go ahead.


lvg
lvg

@Lil_Barry_Bailout I guess LIl barry will be joining Perdue and Deal in cheering their idol -Donald and gaping at his Russian escort/wife on Wednesday. Maybe Trump will call Obama and Hillary scumbags to give the resident bigot some thrills.

Lil_Barry_Bailout
Lil_Barry_Bailout

Betcha didn't know that Republicans proposed a bill to block those on the terror watch list from purchasing firearms. It included due process protections though, so Democrats opposed it.

Lil_Barry_Bailout
Lil_Barry_Bailout

The Democrat bill denies Americans due process and is un-American.

LDH2O
LDH2O

@Lil_Barry_Bailout  This bill has one provision that says to use the watch list  in accordance with Pres Directive 11 that says NOTHING about "due process" - You made all that up, nice try.

LDH2O
LDH2O

@Lil_Barry_Bailout  No, with rights come responsibilities. You cannot make up stuff. Perhaps you missed that in civics class, or perhaps you did not make it to the 7th grade. Hitler had the big lie and so do you.

LDH2O
LDH2O

@Lil_Barry_Bailout  Nope, that is drivel that is no more factual than you are. I QUOTED the bill,  you post some hack URL. Still NO FACTS.

LDH2O
LDH2O

@Lil_Barry_Bailout  On the other hand, I CAN quote the bill that the Republicans blocked:  “Denying Firearms And Explosives To Dangerous Terrorists Act Of 2015”, which works to prevent people who are on the terror watchlist, no fly lists, and other suspected terrorists from legally buying guns,

Lil_Barry_Bailout
Lil_Barry_Bailout

Leave it to liberal fascists to force people to prove their innocence before being able to exercise their rights. Isn't your Idiot Messiah supposed to be some kind of Constitutional scholar? LMAO!!!

LDH2O
LDH2O

@Lil_Barry_Bailout  That bill has this in it: " Allows any individual whose firearm or explosives license application has been denied to bring legal action challenging the denial." SO there is your due process. Again, nice try, oh wait, not really - you just keep spewing vomit hoping someone will think it is caviar.

ScubaSteve
ScubaSteve

I finally figured it out: The Problem with this country is the Constitution.


I really don't know what took me so long. Throw out the Constitution and we might actually start to get somewhere.

Lil_Barry_Bailout
Lil_Barry_Bailout

If you've been paying attention you'll know that I expect Real Americans to be outnumbered by Taker Nation. Half the country is on the dole, a huge advantage for the party of handouts.

But do go on celebrating the liberal fascist transformation. It's working out great so far.

You might even get your wish and have an amendment passed to repeal our free speech protections, or what your fellow travelers call "overturning Citizens United".

Lil_Barry_Bailout
Lil_Barry_Bailout

Better hope we don't fade too much. Somebody's gotta pay the bills for you un-American layabouts!

ScubaSteve
ScubaSteve

@Lil_Barry_Bailout Go on celebrating I will. Day by day, as more of your "Real Americans" fade into oblivion, I will think of you and I will celebrate.

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@ScubaSteve You're being naive if you think whatever came after the Constitution would allow you to criticize it as freely as you are allowed to criticize the current system. Not to mention other liberties.


ScubaSteve
ScubaSteve

@Lil_Barry_Bailout Pardon me if that doesn't exactly sound frightening. "Conservatives" are the Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight.


I'll say this, Lil Barry, I do sincerely hope you'll stick in there and wear the absolute blasting you're going to take when the painfully obvious election results become official. I mean, you've run your mouth a good bit, and I admire you for your dedication, so don't cut and run if (when) you take another L.

LDH2O
LDH2O

@Lil_Barry_Bailout"Half the country is on the dole" Yes those corporate welfare recipients are bleeding us dry. Glad you recognize that.

Lil_Barry_Bailout
Lil_Barry_Bailout

Yep, that Islamofascist terrorist knew just where to strike to get the insane freaks of the left--his fellow Democrats-- as berserk as possible.

Try to remember what it's like to be Americans, leftists.

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

Seven and one-half years of Obama apologizing and "talking" to everyone, but Hillary won't give up.

She says all we have to do is talk to "the communities" more.

Yea Hillary, I just know you will be able to turn them against the Koran.

CondoMan
CondoMan

Conservative columnists conveniently forget that Republican George W Bush infuriated Muslims by invading Iraq to find weapons of mass destruction, but never found them.  Bush had the chance to unite this country, but he failed miserably. Bush will go down in history as one of the worst presidents.  With Trump leading the ticket, the Republicans should be worried about losing the Senate, not what Obama will do or did do. 

Lil_Barry_Bailout
Lil_Barry_Bailout

The country was united until Democrats figured out that wasn't going to work for them electorally.

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@CondoMan Maybe CondoMan you should change your name to History Revisionist.

Yes, on reflection invading Iraq was a mistake however

the most failure in the Middle East belongs to Obama and Hillary who are mostly responsible for the rise of ISIS and certainly for the horrors of displaced people.

xxxzzz
xxxzzz

@MarkVV @JohnnyReb @CondoMan Iraq was stable when W. left office.  Obama/Clinton destabilized it by withdrawing too quickly and threw in Libya and Syria to boot.  Then did nothing while the JV team overran half of those 3 countries and spread tentacles around the globe.

MarkVV
MarkVV

@JohnnyReb @CondoMan So Bush made the "mistake" which started what resulted in ISIS, but Obama and Hillary are responsible - that is the JohnnyReb "logic." 

MarkVV
MarkVV

@xxxzzz @MarkVV @JohnnyReb @CondoMan So the US should have stayed in Iraq indefinitely? How much money were you willing to throw away after what Bush spent there.? How many more US soldiers did you want to get killed?

LDH2O
LDH2O

@xxxzzz @MarkVV @JohnnyReb @CondoMan  Iraq was never stable since W. invaded. The Shia and Shiites were going at it. "threw in Libya and Syria" Those revolutions were home grown, nothing to do with Obama and strictly modeled on W's Arab Spring.

Lil_Barry_Bailout
Lil_Barry_Bailout

Obama accepts the occasional 50 murdered in Orlando as the price to be paid for doing nothing meaningful in the Middle East.

Doesn't mean he won't make as much political hay as possible out of a good crisis, of course.

LDH2O
LDH2O

@Lil_Barry_Bailout  Bush started it when he covertly bombed the towers. It has been proven that they would not have fallen down from the planes. Bush said he did not want to pursue Bin Laden - how convenient since BL was not to blame in the first place.

LoMoney
LoMoney

relax--barack has everything under control! just ban guns, and isis is defeated!! YES!! I feel better now!

MarkVV
MarkVV

@LoMoney No surprise there. Insane people can feel very happy.

Lil_Barry_Bailout
Lil_Barry_Bailout

Seems to me that the only faction not trying to "out-bid one another in changing our own character rather than attacking the actual enemy" are establishment conservatives.  Not shredding the constitution, not slamming the door on legal immigration.  Just commonsense, levelheaded response.

Americans are fortunate that such people are running Our Congress.  Now if the president would act like an adult and an American, we'd really have something.

McGarnagle
McGarnagle

@Lil_Barry_Bailout


Your bias blinds you to the reality. Quit trying to defend your "side" and actually try to be solution oriented. Also the leader of the republican party is far from providing level headed or common sense responses. 

LDH2O
LDH2O

@Lil_Barry_Bailout  I am surprised the party of NO has anytime to do anything other than vote to repeal the ACA for the Nth time. Our glorious senator Isakson said " it was time to declare a “no holds barred” war against Islamic terrorism." What an asinine statement all these years after 911 and what a slap in the face to all the brave men and women who sacrificed so much in the Global War on Terror.