Half of the country is unwilling to challenge the virtue of weapons that are obsolete in a modern world but pervasive in our culture. These close-minded, obstinate Americans see the costs and routine massacres of human life but won’t even acknowledge the central role these weapons play in the carnage.
For the right, it’s guns. For the left, it’s religion.
I am pro American leadership. I am anti-war. What we must do is remember what it means to be American: pro-freedom, and the land of opportunity, of immigrants.
Here are my policy proposals:
- Declare American opposition to ideologies that conflict with basic human rights. Recognize that Christianity was once, and in a few ways still is, such an ideology. Challenge the world’s muslims to reform and modernize their religion.
- Pour American money into the housing of Syrian refugees in neighboring countries, and commit the US military to oversee and protect their transfer and any temporary camps.
- Remove or drastically raise caps on the acceptance of refugees on US soil.
- Accept a non-zero, low level of terrorism, even on US soil, as the cost of a free country.
We are neglecting a war of ideas in favor of a war of vengeance. Waging a war of ideas means that the President of the United States and the free people of the west say without equivocation that we are for freedom of expression everywhere. We are for freedom to worship everywhere. Therefore, we must oppose any ideology, including any religion, that infringes on the rights of others. We must stand against radical Islam and any violent ideology that is so fundamentally opposed to peace and modernity.
The left needs to have a few ideas pounded into its head: Islam is not a race. Criticism of an ideology, even war against an ideology, is not bigotry or prejudice any more than wars on fascism, racism, or communism. Of course there are anti-Arab, anti-muslim bigots, and of course there is no legitimacy in that prejudice.
Imagine if, during World War II, when we were were disgracefully locking up Japanese Americans for their race, the American left was unwilling to declare war on Japan because, clearly, it’s just racist fervor: “Japan is a nation of peace. Not all Japanese people attacked Pearl Harbor, and the attack has nothing to do with what the emperor of Japan says.”
Containment is an honorable mission. The United States can easily prevent the Islamic State from building a conventional military stronghold. With little risk and relatively low cost, our military can flatten any base or building, forcing our enemies to act small and live underground. Sending billion dollar warplanes to take out snipers and pickup trucks is not a good use of military might. Pursuing Islamists into the shadows, aiming for absolute destruction, is not practical. We have limited resources that could and should be committed to protecting civilians and housing refugees. Americans must welcome the tired, poor, huddled masses yearning to breathe free. The wretched refuse of our teeming shore are forsaken so that we can spend millions trying to blow up pickup trucks in Syria. We should be accepting hundreds of thousands of these huddled masses and pouring money into neighboring countries to support and protect refugees.
Conservatives like to bloviate about liberals “throwing money at the problem”. When it comes to foreign policy, money is one of our most useful tools. It’s time for the American right to stop getting away with throwing bullets and bombs at the problem.
Finally, we must accept that occasional terrorist attacks, even on US soil, are the inevitable result of apocalyptic ideologies. The goal is not to prevent every attack, but to minimize their number and casualties without sacrificing our values or liberty. The gut response to attacks should not be to raise security in the name of “never again”. Rather, our reaction should be that we will never surrender who we are out of fear.
Terrorists love to say that the jihadist loves death more than the infidel loves life. Our challenge is to love freedom more than the jihadist loves death.