There was this silly headline run in the Star-Ledger (NJ.com) last week. It read: To N.J. congressmen: If you're not battling travel ban, you're backing bigotry.
Accompanying the silly headline were the faces of two Republican Congressmen who, if the author had taken just 5 minutes to study them, would understand that they are as far removed from bigotry as human beings can be. Congressman Chris Smith and Congressman Tom MacArthur... bigots??? Then you know not a thing about them, their families, or their good works.
The opinion column underneath that headline was written by a young "progressive" political consultant. A nice enough young man, recently married, who is starting on his journey in life. We don't know his character or if it will ever match that of the men he has so casually maligned.
Of course, "progressive" these days is defined as establishmentarian, globalist, corporate, and politically somewhere between Hillary Clinton and Tony Blair. This is what the Democratic Party's incumbent class is made of and to it must bend the knees of people like our young writer.
If this headline had been written by a member of the Tea Party -- about a couple of Democrats -- it would have read something like this: To NJ congressmen: If you're not backing travel ban, you're backing terrorism.
The hysteria of it. Both headlines. We can already see the campaigns that will be run -- the terrorists vs. the bigots!
And it will be all such bullshit and so unedifying. But that is how we communicate to each other now -- via twitter or Facebook or even face-to-face. Whether snarky or roaring, nowadays we speak "asshole" to each other.
We speak "asshole" to each other because our knowledge is limited and our emotions unchecked. We are scared shitless of something, so shitless and so lost for solutions that we act like so many cats stuffed into a sack, suffocating, clawing at each other in our darkness. And so we get headlines like the ones above.
And talk about limited knowledge. The nations engaged in the so-called War on Terror can't even agree on what a terrorist organization is. The military wing of Hezbollah is a terrorist organization according to the European Union and the United Kingdom but not the United States. The Muslim Brotherhood is recognized as an Islamic terrorist group in such Islamic countries as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates -- but not in the United States.
Our Department of Homeland Security understands so little that they processed the visa of a woman using the name of a male jihadist, with a false address, and a plethora of red flags concerning her social media. She ended up participating in the 2015 massacre of 14 people (22 others were seriously wounded) in San Bernardino, California. And this happened a decade and a half after student visa-holder Hani Hasan Hanjour flew American Airlines flight 77 into the Pentagon, killing 184 people, including everyone on the flight.
Our knowledge is flawed, our process faulty, but the deaths and injuries are very real. If we don't want more and possibly a lot worse, we need to accept that we don't know, place the emotion and name-calling to one side, stop speaking in "asshole" and start communicating to each other so that we can -- together -- work the problem.
Fritz Kuhn, that old Nazi who led the German American Bund back in the 1930's clothed his organization in the red, white, and blue too. Kuhn used accusations of "bigotry" towards those who attempted to close down his organization. The ACLU defended him too. A Democrat State Senator even spoke at one of his rallies, held at a Nazi camp in Andover Township, Sussex County.
Now Senator Bob Gordon and others are attempting to interfere in the federal government's work to keep us safe from terrorist attack. Legislation Gordon is sponsoring, S-3006, would prohibit personnel of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey from providing "any aid, resources, assistance, or support to any federal employee or representative in enforcing the provisions of a United States Executive Order issued on January 27, 2017 regarding Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States, nor may any resources or facilities of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey be used for such purpose."
Wow, imagine if the State Legislature in Alabama had passed such a law affecting the Alabama National Guard in 1963. Remember your history and remember well that it was the federalized Alabama Guard led by General Henry Graham that affected the end to Governor George Wallace's "schoolhouse door" blockade of African-American students attempting to register for classes at the University of Alabama.
Senator Gordon should be careful of the precedent he is setting, for he might just be taking a major step in turning our federal Republic into something akin to the Wild West. Has the Senator thought this through, or is he simply caught up in the "be-in" surrounding the opposition to all things Trump? Is this helping or is it merely a fashion statement?
Last year, Gordon supported legislation that directed the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to take extra-measures, above and beyond those of the federal government, to prevent hunting trophies from coming through the transportation facilities (airports, etc.) controlled by the Port Authority. This too was a reaction to something that had gone viral on Facebook.
The language of last year's legislation couldn't be more direct: "Any Port Authority agent or Port Authority police officer shall have authority to enforce the prohibition in subsection b. of this section and, where necessary, to apply for and execute any warrant to search for and seize..."
It is a question of language and of priorities. Representing counties in a state that suffered so much death and misery at the hands of terrorists, why is there no similar language regarding the vigilance against terrorism in S-3006? Where is the insistence that no more innocent victims suffer death or maiming?
It's not there, because it's not "trending" on Facebook. Not at the moment, anyway. But legislators like Senator Gordon must be keeping their fingers crossed.