How the Right and the Left Are Getting San Bernardino Wrong

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Professor Karima Bennoune during Tuesday panel discussion at the UC Davis School of Law
Professor Karima Bennoune during Tuesday panel discussion at the UC Davis School of Law

By Karima Bennoune

Editor’s note: On Tuesday at the UC Davis School of Law, the Vanguard co-hosted a discussion “After San Bernardino” on Muslim Extremism and Racial Profiling. Panelists included UC Davis Law Professor Karima Bennoune, Gabriel “Jack” Chin, UC Davis Police Chief Matt Carmichael and Davis Police Chief Darren Pytel. Professor Bennoune’s article from December in the Huffington Post is republished her by permission.

14 people are dead. 21 are injured.

A young couple armed for battle attacked a Christmas party full of the husband’s colleagues. In the face of this nightmare — both the 355th mass shooting in 336 days in the United States, and one that came less than three weeks after the Paris attacks — right and left alike are sticking to their scripts rather than grappling with the complex reality. If we are to successfully prevent future massacres, that has to change.

First and foremost, we have to think of the victims and their families.

And then we have to declare all-out war on the political ideology of Islamism that motivated Syed Farook and Tafsheen Malik, while simultaneously standing firm against all attempts to discriminate against Muslims generally. We have to disarm all potential terrorists by toughening up gun control laws and by discrediting the foul ideas that motivate them. (And we have to name those ideas without fear of being labelled politically incorrect. ) The right and the left, more worried about their fight with each other than the fight against terrorism, have made this an either/or choice when it is both/and. We cannot succeed by only doing one of these things or the other.

The right rushed in almost immediately. Twitter was full of smears of all Muslims, President Obama, immigrants, etc. Ann Coulter tweeted: “it’s been a 50 year invasion.” “Where,” shrieked Pamela Geller, “are the programs in mosques and madrassas teaching against jihad? NONE.” Are there enough such programs and are they succeeding? No. But, as someone who has spent years traveling the world talking to Muslims, including clergy, who are challenging extremism, I know that this is simply a lie. As the icing on the cake, Marco Rubio now denies that there is any discrimination against Muslims in America.

The left meanwhile, as exemplified by the tepid statements of Democratic candidates — has only been willing to talk about gun control and has mostly refused to name a key part of the problem in this case — Muslim fundamentalism or Islamism, a virulent political ideology (which represents the far right of the Muslim political spectrum). That ideology today poses a global threat and is one that many (but not enough) people of Muslim heritage themselves have been fighting against all around the world for years. Hilary Clinton deems it insulting to say “radical Islam.” Not saying it, when it represents a reality, is much worse.

The double standards have been stunning. On the right, people who denounced anyone who dared make a connection between the Colorado Planned Parenthood shooter and its own extreme anti-choice discourse were instantly linking the San Bernardino bloodbath to “Islamic” terrorism before there was any evidence other than that the first suspect had a foreign sounding name. On the left, the same people who had instantly (and correctly) recognized the politics of the Planned Parenthood shooting were reticent to admit any connection to terrorism here or to discuss the possible political motivation, even as thousands of rounds of ammunition were being found in the “IED factory” Farook and Malik had in their garage.

The soundtrack to all of this has been a diatribe from the Far Right in the West increasingly suggesting that all Muslims are members of one big sleeper cell and that there is something inherently wrong with this religion, and this religion only. Such views contravene basic tenets of humanism and decency. They also give a powerful weapon both to actual fundamentalists and those who apologize for them by suggesting that the extremists are just fighting an oppressive, imperialist West and defending Muslim interests. Making Muslims into victims, or making them feel like they are, plays into the hands of the fundamentalists who know just how to play that card.

While the Western Right sometimes advocates bigotry and international crimes — like killing the families of terrorists as Donald Trump appallingly suggests — in response to Muslim fundamentalist violence, the Western Left often refuses to recognize the reality of that violence and the actual danger posed by its underlying ideology.

They should listen to progressives of Muslim heritage whose words also belie the claims of the Gellers of the world. For example, Algerian anti-extremist activist Cherifa Kheddar, whose own brother and sister were killed by the Armed Islamic Group in 1996, clearly explains that you cannot end jihadist violence without “prioritizing the fight against fundamentalism which makes the bed of jihadism.”

A similar point was made by a petition authored by Muslim journalist Mohamed Sifaoui and published last summer in the leftwing and secular French magazine Marianne that was signed by some 2000 people, mostly people of North African, Muslim heritage. “Islamism imposes a war on us and its principle weapon is terrorism, but Islamism also imposes on us a great ideological battle that we must face up to collectively.”

In facing up to this very battle, President Obama got some things right in his Oval Office speech though he mainly pledged — somewhat incongruously — to continue the same strategy against a threat which has evolved, and emphasized what he would not do. However, he rightly reminded us that Muslim Americans are an integral part of the community. Discrimination is an unacceptable response to terror. Allowing terror suspects to arm themselves inside our borders is not a good idea. And at the same time he insisted that Muslims must confront extremism which is a grave threat and one that has, in fact, taken root in certain quarters, including here in the U.S..

What we need to do now — rather than giving a forum to self-appointed spokespeople like CAIR who have not led the fight against extremism — is listen to those who have actually been taking on this very struggle the President referenced. One of those brave people, Ani Zonneveld, the Malaysian American head of Muslims for Progressive Values based in Southern California, wrote to me the day after the San Bernardino slaughter. “You cannot be religious and go out and kill in Islam, and yet again we are witnessing murder in the name of our faith. The fact that guns are easily accessible and there have been more than 355 mass shootings in America to date should be irrelevant to our internal conversation. Our conversation should be why and what is it in our theology that has been so bastardized to give people permission to kill? Until we honestly root this out, we will by default be blamed.”

To enable the “rooting out” Ani calls for, the right and the left need to focus on the actual problem and not on each other. They all need to carefully distinguish between Muslims, people of Muslim heritage and immigrants on the one hand, and Islamist extremists on the other. They must be tolerant toward the former who are key allies, and unwaveringly intolerant of the latter. As a necessary first step, they must speak the name of the problem: “Muslim fundamentalism.”

The memory of the victims of San Bernardino, and of so many other recent terror attacks around the world, demands nothing less from us today.

Panel discussion participants from left to right: UC Davis Police Chief Matt Carmichael; UC Davis Professor Gabrial "Jack" Chin; Associate Dean Madhavi Sunder (moderator), Davis Police Chief Darren Pytel, and UC Davis Law Professor Karima Bennoune
Panel discussion participants from left to right: UC Davis Police Chief Matt Carmichael; UC Davis Professor Gabriel “Jack” Chin; Associate Dean Madhavi Sunder (moderator), Davis Police Chief Darren Pytel, and UC Davis Law Professor Karima Bennoune
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Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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52 thoughts on “How the Right and the Left Are Getting San Bernardino Wrong”

  1. Tia Will

    I sincerely regret having missed this event. My following point may have been covered. If so I would like anyone who did attend to educate me.

    As a necessary first step, they must speak the name of the problem: “Muslim fundamentalism.””

    I see a broader issue that is not fleshed out in this article. I believe that the issue is deeper than Muslim fundamentalism. I believe it is any fundamentalism that causes its believers to accept the use of violence as a means of forwarding their agenda.  In our country,  we have a long, long history of terrorism.

    As part of Western expansion we had forced removal of populations from their native lands. We  had slavery and the rise of the terrorist group the KKK. We have had militant arms of groups such as the Black Panthers and Move in Philadelphia culminating in the bombing of the Move compound in 1985. Moving forward a decade, we have the Oklahoma City   Bombing in which terrorist cell leader Timothy McVeigh believed that he had the right to kill 168 and injure another 680 to revenge the deaths of another armed and dangerous group in Texas. From 1997 through 2015, there have been 80 attacks on abortion providers and clinics including the use of acid, bombs, arson and firearms to murder individual providers. Finally, in 2015 we see Dylan Storm Roof kill nine black parishioners in Charleston in an attempt to in his own words “start a race war”.

    My point ?  No one race, religion or ideology has a monopoly on terror. The use of terror is not limited by numbers. There are individual “lone wolf” attackers, small groups or cells, although we do not seem to apply that word to domestic terrorists, and large organizations of every political stripe that promote violence against their opponents through words or actions. Some are just easier to identify because they look different or have different sounding names. But they are all united in the belief that their beliefs are true and worth killing for. I believe an entirely different approach is warranted.

    And then we have to declare all-out war on the political ideology of Islamism that motivated Syed Farook and Tafsheen Malik, while simultaneously standing firm against all attempts to discriminate against Muslims generally.”

    I believe that what we need to do is declare all out peace rather than promoting the endless cycle of fear, suspicion, hatred and desire for revenge that is now our modus operandi. The right and the left do need to unify. Muslim and non -Muslim Americans do need to unify in finding means to reduce harm. And we need to do it with the knowledge that there are no groups that universally accept violence, but there are likewise no groups who does not have some members who will resort to violence to promote their own goals.

    1. Frankly

      Jesus Tia – would you please pay attention to some time scale here?  How far back to you have to go to heap on enough shame to satiate your woldview?   This is getting ridiculous.  This seems to be some type of dysfunction owned by you and others… to keep reaching back in time for evidence that America is filled full of equally bad people committing equally horrendous acts.

      The United States apology tour continues…

      Please bring it into time focus will you?

      Today is 2016.   There is absolutely nothing materially connectable to the monstrosities and monsters that are Islamic fundamentalists committed to acts of terrorism.   The fact that you would attempt to connect this to anything American or Christian is frankly reprehensible.

      There is a 1000000000000000000000 percent difference between people that would coldly murder as many innocent people they can in the name of their religion and nations that use their military to kill enemies that would do them and their other friendly nations great material harm.

      1000000000000000000 percent.

      If you cannot get that I feel a bit sorry for you.

      The family of the male San Bernardino terrorist killer, even well after the event, still claimed that he was a peaceful and pious Muslim.  So what are we supposed to think about this hard-line dichotomy we are fed by the left and media… that peaceful Muslims and Extremist Islamists are completely different?  I might be more willing to draw that bright line if I was convinced that all peaceful followers of Islam would quickly rat out the extremists in their communities.  But as the events in San Bernardino have proven… we cannot expect that.

      I believe the Muslim community has everything it needs to ensure peaceful followers of Islam are kept separate from extremists.   But it requires that the Muslim community take responsibility for this as being a problem within their community and activity and aggressively working to root it out.  Because if they are passive and dismissive of that responsibility (which they largely appear to be), then the consequences are that general law enforcement most do this work.  But since general law enforcement is not a member of the community, they will have to profile to help reduce the risk of another San Bernardino event.   And that means more peaceful Muslims will be detained and questioned to ensure they are not terror threats.

      The primary component to freedom is safety.  Freedom is not free because ensuring safety is not free.  The cost of freedom in an era of Islamic fundamentalist terrorism is that some people in the same community of Islamic fundamentalist terrorist will have to endure inconveniences of suspicion.  In term of moral value judgement, I put their hurt feelings pain below the pain of American loss of life.  If they don’t like it then take responsibility for solving the problems in their community.

      And gun control is a stupid pursuit if the goal is to limit the loss of life from terrorism.  Just ask all those families of the people killed from the terrorist attacks in France where gun control is extreme.

      1. Tia Will

        Frankly

        I included the historical events going back to the beginnings of our country only to provide historical context for my real and very recent examples. So let’s let you choose. You pick the date that you believe is still relevant. How about 1975 with the Move group in Philadelphia ?  Too far back in time for you….then how about the Oklahoma City Bombing of 1985 ? How about the attacks on abortion clinics, all most all perpetrated by individuals who claim Christianty as their motive ? Last major attack 2015. Still too far back for you ?

        You also seem to overlook that the groups I cited are practically all across the board in terms of ethnicity. They have included both non- government and government related groups. Both Move and the Philadelphia police both advocated and/or used extreme violence against the other.

        I feel no guilt for actions that I did not commit either by individuals or our government. You are totally missing my point. Yes, I consider violence to be just that violence. The dead are dead regardless of whether the terrorist is foreign born or native, whether they wear a uniform of they do not. The same families are forever destroyed. I do not believe that violence is justified except in the case of self defense or the prevention of imminent danger to others whether we consider the perpetrator to be “one of us” or “the other. ”

         

        1. Frankly

          Biddlin – stop with the personal attacks.  Yes, we know you think I am not as smart as you are.  But this is a blog where you need to demonstrate all that mental prowess that you claim to have by writing on the topic.  Otherwise Don should be admonishing you and deleting your useless posts.

      2. hpierce

        Donald Trump has said, “I would bomb the s— out of them.” Ted Cruz has vowed, “We will utterly destroy them. We will carpet bomb them into oblivion.” source:  http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/chapman/ct-trump-cruz-carpet-bombing-chapman-perspec-1217-20151216-column.html

        They haven’t gotten to the point reached by John McCain in 2007, when he sang a few bars of what he called “that old Beach Boys song ‘Bomb Iran.’ ” But Cruz shares McCain’s capacity for amusement. “I don’t know if sand can glow in the dark, but we’re going to find out,” he promised an audience in Iowa. source: ibid

        Carpet bombing makes no differenciation between civilians and “bad guys”.

        Cruz implies nuclear weapon use… again, indiscriminate… and effects are much wider and longer.

        Compare this to your posit that terrorism is not “american” nor “Christian”… both these Republican front-runners actively court “evangelicals”… this indeed is 2016, and we have ‘conservative’ Republicans, seeking to become “commander-in-chief” advocating a type of human carnage 1,000,000 % more devastating than San Bernadino.

  2. The Pugilist

    I think she nailed this one – the right are racists, the left are fearful of buying into that mindset but in the process unwilling to condemn violence and instead get focused on their pet projects like gun control (which I support), but point taken.

        1. Frankly

          The right tends to apply common expectations of behavior to all racial groups, the left tends to excuse behavior based on membership to groups that they believe warrant extra protection.   The latter is racist, not the former… despite the media template.

          And this is important because it gets us back to the second point that the left is unwilling to condemn the behavior contained with one of their designated racial protected groups.

          1. David Greenwald

            Part of the problem is that the right’s belief is either premised on a level playing field or is ignorant of the lack thereof. Where I am left a bit at a loss is how that applies to the issue of terrorism. I certainly oppose racial profiling, surveillance, other tactics that do not respect our constitutional protections. On the other hand, and I think this was a good point made yesterday by I think Professor Chin, all bets are off if you are talking about surveillance and other tactics based on probable cause of specific threats.

            Another point that I’ll bring into this because it was raised interestingly enough both in the forum and in a private meeting I had with some police officials – the issue of racial profiling is tricky, but to the extent that you have that perception – it matters. It erodes trust. You are not going to convince people they are not racially profiled, you have to work with them to build trust. I was very encouraged – again both what I heard in public and private, that the police get this. In fact, I would argue that the police get it more than you do. Solving these problems won’t be easy, but the message has been delivered and I think enough police get it that they are going to figure out ways to address it.

        2. Frankly

          Part of the problem is that the right’s belief is either premised on a level playing field or is ignorant of the lack thereof. Where I am left a bit at a loss is how that applies to the issue of terrorism.

          I don’t think the right believes that there is a level playing field.  I think the right believes in a view more like a ladder where fate and luck play a part in where you might start on the ladder, and how easy or hard it might be to climb the ladder… but that protecting the access to the ladder and the freedom of individuals to climb and fall on their own merit and the expectation that everyone must keep trying to climb is of paramount importance to the ongoing success of the great American project.

          There is a line where assistance to climb the ladder creates a dependency for perpetual assistance just to prevent falling down.  It is that soft bigotry of low expectations thing.  Destructive dependence grows.

          Listen dude.  You had a crappy childhood.  No father around and a mother that was bitter and not very loving.  You are part of a racial group that, if you want to go back far enough in history to several generations past, was oppressed at some point.  You had bad luck.  Now, what are you going to do about it?  What choices are you going to make to get you to a better life?  Are you going to repeat the mistakes of your parents and many in your community, or are you going to reach for something better?

          The thing is… almost every person of every racial group can play that play in their heads as being connected to who they are.  The separation comes from deciding you are a victim, or deciding that you are a hero.   Liberals tend to create more victims and conservatives are frustrated that we are not turning more into heroes.

        3. Frankly

          Yeah, Beyonce only had that little ladder to climb.

          Obama only had that little ladder to climb.

          Ben Carson and Herman Cain only had that little ladder to climb.

          This image says a lot about the liberal victim mentality mind.

          But really think about.  What is the source/cause of that missing upper ladder?  What is the source/cause of that rope that the middle class has to climb?  The image attempts to demonize and negatively brand the CEO as the source/cause.  That is fun and feeds on the class anger that powers so much of the left political machine, but it is 90% incorrect.   And because it is 90% incorrect it deflects from what IS correct and prevents us from making things better.

          The source/cause is the decades of proved failed liberal policies.

          Liberals as a group seem to have little to no good understanding of economics.  Or they are just stubborn to accept economic truths and facts because it conflicts with their worldview.

          Honestly answer why there are not enough good paying jobs for Americans and why there is a growing income gap and shrinking income mobility… and most of that answer belongs to the implemented ideas of the political left.  Manufacturers are sending plants and jobs to Mexico and other countries.  Why?  The answer is that the US and states have taxed and regulated American business to the point that it cannot be competitive enough without finding ways to reduce costs.  The big-government, big-entitlements design of the left that exploded after FDRs New Deal is the giant leech sucking the lifeblood from economic productivity that sustained generations of workers.  Labor unions too are similar leeches.

          American companies could be enticed to stay with a strong workforce.  But liberal policies have resulted in crappy and expensive education.  And massive entitlements have trained many that they don’t have to work hard to survive.

          Recently the state of Maine required childless adults to work to get food stamps… and there was an 80% reduction in the request for food stamps.

          Demonizing CEOs and business is like kicking your milk cow to produce more milk.

          And really it makes sense that Trump and Sanders are the two candidates leading toward the general election.  Trump is the wrong candidate with the right message.  Sanders isn’t.

      1. Tia Will

        Frankly

        She nailed half of it.  But left out the part that the left are racist not the right.”

        Oh, for heaven’s sake. Are you never going to take off your white hat ?  You are very intelligent. I know that you are because we have spoken in person on a number of occasions. But when you write statements that categorize one team as the good guys and the other as the bad guys, while presumably knowing that all human beings are complicated arrangements of various proclivities, capable of racism, to say nothing of many, many other evils, then it may be approaching impossible for some to appreciate that intelligence.

        1. Barack Palin

          But when you write statements that categorize one team as the good guys and the other as the bad guys

          Tia Will, why do you jump on Frankly’s response when The Pugilist wrote:

          I think she nailed this one – the right are racists

          You didn’t respond to that, are you being that partisan?

        2. Frankly

          Read what I wrote above and then comment.

          I see the left as being obsessed with race, and the right being obsessed with individual behavior.  And yes, when those on the right note a high percentage of behavior within a racial group, then there is generalization.  The left likes to label this generalization as racist while going extreme to deny that the common behavior exists within the group.

          So both the left and the right end up having race be a component of their views, but for people with a right-leaning worldview, it starts as an assessment of the individual behavior.  For people on the left, race (or more specifically protected group-ism) more often dominates their assessment and narrative from the start.

      1. Tia Will

        Frankly

        Only those that would do material harm to others.”

        So do you not consider nine parishioners dead in Charleston, multiple attacks including bombs, arson and shooting providers in the name of Christ, or the Oklahoma City bombing to be material harm ?  I couldn’t help but notice that you left these out of your reply to me.

  3. Tia Will

    BP

    You didn’t respond to that, are you being that partisan?”

    Absolutely not. That was not my post. I do not take credit or blame for what others post about me. I think that I made it amply clear that I believe that there are racists, and terrorists, and otherwise just generally bad players on both sides of the political divide not only repetitively on this thread, but on multiple other threads. It is Frankly that despite his high level of intelligence who continues to insist that the left are bad guys and the right are good. And you continue to suggest that I am partisan  ?

    Really !

      1. Tia Will

        BP

        And I don’t call you out overtime you say something that I think is either wrong or stupid, either. As I said, I take no credit nor blame for the statements of others. Sometimes I think that you and Frankly ( just examples) or so far over the top that it isn’t worth while.

        Ask me a specific question, and I will give you a specific answer just as I am doing now. Expect equal treatment of ridiculous statements and I may miss a few.

        1. Barack Palin

          I just felt it curious that you chose to call out a partisan statement when the left was being called racist but not a peep when the right was called the same.

  4. Tia Will

    Frankly

    I know that you love your “ladder of opportunity” analogy. And  I would too if everyone lower down on that ladder did not have the foot of someone higher up consistently shoving them back down instead of extending a hand up. Just three examples, one of which I know from lunch you actually agree with because you said so.

    1. Walmart – a case of billionaires choosing to use their boots to push back the workers that they will not choose to support with a living wage. So much so that they implore other equally poorly paid workers to donate to those who literally cannot meet their living expenses on Walmart wages. This you claimed was a business model that you don’t like. I consider it indicative of systemic rigging of the ladder of opportunity against the middle, working and lower classes, however you want to define them.

    2. The scum ( sorry Don, but this is not in reference to a fellow Vanguradian, and I do believe in calling a spade a spade) Shkreli who has seen fit to not only kick back down the ladder many seriously ill individuals but perhaps to knock some of them out of this life altogether for his own material profit. Just one example from our exemplary pharmaceutical industry. I can provide more if you like but I thought that he was such a shining star that he could just represent them all.

    3. The currently leading Republican candidate for the presidency who claimed, truthfully, when asked about his multiple bankruptcies by stating that he had only used the existing laws to his advantage. True as spoken, but yet another stellar example of those at the top kicking people beneath then off those ladder rungs as what he did not do was to catch those he kicked down the ladder, some by a few rungs. Some probably to the bottom regardless of how hard they had worked to achieve their pre bankruptcy level.

    So just bad luck ?  I don’t think so. I believe that these are three examples of deliberate sabotage of the efforts of those at the bottom by those at the top who don’t seem to consider that a few billion just might be enough for them.

    But then, I am guessing that you do not consider any of this to represent material harm ?

    1. Barack Palin

      You left out Hillary Clinton who gives speeches for Wall Street in which she is compensated $100’s of thousands of dollars and her and Bill’s foundation in which they launder millions of dollars both domestic and foreign.  How many have they kicked under that ladder?

    2. Frankly

      I would too if everyone lower down on that ladder did not have the foot of someone higher up consistently shoving them back down.

      First, I do not support anyone doing this.

      Second, you seem to mistake the beneficial meritocracy that is our system of democrat free market capitalism with “shoving them back down.”   This is an irrational perspective because the free market works off value and price primarily.  If you have something of value to trade, there will be people willing to pay you a price for that value.   The market is biased, but only on value.

      It seems that you are frustrated with this…  feeling it is unfair that some people have not developed enough of value to trade… or that the things they want to pursue don’t return fair enough value compared to others.  Then you demand top-down government control and redistribution so that these gaps are smoothed out and happy unicorns dance under rainbows.   The problem is without bias of merit provided by a free market system you get bias based on the opinion of someone with power to decide.   That is collectivism and we have copious historical proof that it causes more human misery and suffering than all other systems.

      I agree that our American-style democratic merit-based market system is imperfect.  Your problem is the failure to accept the fact that it is still the best system ever designed… that all others are much, much worse.   And we are slowing heading to what is much worse because of people like yourself failing to understand the good in what we have and pursuing an unattainable Utopian state.

      Income mobility has shrunk specifically because the growth in government and its connection to big business.   Yet you advocate for more big government.  You are 100% wrong.

  5. Tia Will

    Bidden and Frankly

    A broad, but wafer thin mind.”

    That is funny. I thought the above reference was to me. But either way, Don made the right call. I am all for pointing our when we believe others are in error. Cheap shots and name calling not so much so.

    You go Don !

  6. Tia Will

    Frankly

    This is an irrational perspective because the free market works off value and price primarily.”

    A possibility if we actually had a free market. We have already agreed that we do not. In conversation if not on the Vanguard.

    It seems that you are frustrated with this…  feeling it is unfair that some people have not developed enough of value to trade”

    I am indeed. But it has nothing to do with “unfairness” what ever that may mean. It has to do with my feeling that deliberate prevention of some people having the opportunity to ever develop enough of value to trade is largely responsible for their predicament. I gave you my three examples to which you seem to not care to have responded.

    Then you demand top-down government control and redistribution so that these gaps are smoothed out “

    No, I demand nothing. I favor a change in wealth distribution in much the same way as you favor the status quo, even though you are aware, in your own words that we do not have a “free market”. And frankly, your ongoing use of “rainbows and unicorns” is seeming increasingly childish and boring. Could we stick with discussing the actual issues ?

    Your problem is the failure to accept the fact that it is still the best system ever designed”

    No problem at all since I do not accept the fact that it is still the best system ever designed. We more generate more wealth, but exactly what good does that accomplish if the handful of multimillionaires and billionaires do not use their vast wealth to stretch out those helping hands, but rather choose to enrich only themselves ?

    Yet you advocate for more big government.”

    I am no fonder of “big government” than you are. And if all of your corporate leaders, hedge fund managers, billionaires, and others in power played by the same set of rules as they expect everyone else to play by, we actually could probably do  with a much, much smaller government. But they don’t all do that, do they Frankly?

  7. Frankly

    1. Walmart

    This is classic Tia liberal mindset that these employee are somehow entitled to work at Walmart and that Walmart is required to pay them some wage level that Tia thinks is fair.   These employees are not slaves.  They are not in indentured servitude.   If they don’t like the wages they are paid they can quit and go work somewhere else.  Oh wait, the high business tax and suffocating regulatory costs demanded by big government liberals result in not enough new business starts and business growth to provide enough new jobs.  Which gets me to another point about liberals… they create most of the problems they criticize others for causing so they can create more problems they can “solve” in an endless spiral downward in creating their artificial relevancy.

    2. The scum Shkreli

    We agree about the scum point.  By the way, Shkreli is a liberal Jew that made all his hefty political donations to the Democrat party.  But you are scraping the barrel for a few fantastic examples to make a claim of global/general state of broken.  You are failing big time.  Like I said, the system is not perfect so there are going to be examples of bad behavior.  By the way, what has happened to Shkreli?  What has happen to the lying criminal Hillary Clinton?  The system that is broken is American government.

    3. The currently leading Republican candidate for the presidency who claimed, truthfully, when asked about his multiple bankruptcies

    This is rich.  Government made the bankruptcy laws.  Trump and many other businesses and individuals take advantage of them.  Trump does not criticize them, although he does agree that we need to clamp down on business loopholes.  Trump is simply living the ideology he claims to support… and that everyone else has the same access to.  But then there is Hillary Clinton.   Railing against those evil banks and big businesses and the rich as she does all three.  You defend the real hypocrite here… obviously for partisan reasons.

    The bottom line here is that your examples are all really weak to non-connected to the “putting a foot on people to prevent them from moving up.”   The primary things we can call a foot on people preventing them from moving up is the crappy education system and crappy economic policy from all the powerful people seemingly having a genetic defect that allows them to over-count the impact of carbon molecules in the atmosphere, and under-count the impact of running out of other people’s money.  These are constructs of the political left.

    1. Eric Gelber

      From Frankly:

      By the way, Shkreli is a liberal Jew …

      I apologize for an off-topic comment; but I can’t let this revealing characterization slip by. The relevance of his being a Jew is what, may I ask? And, I don’t know if he’s a liberal, but I do know that he is a poster child for the free market capitalism that you so revere. His actions may be extreme, but they are the foreseeable and ineluctable result of an unfettered market.

      1. Frankly

        I remember reading that he was a New York Jew and a liberal.  That is important only because that group donates millions to Democrats.

        He tried to donate to Bernie Sander’s campaign and Sanders declined it.  Shkreli Tweeted that he was pissed about that.

        His actions had nothing to do with capitalism.  You should ready Adam Smith to educate yourself about what capitalism really is.  Not the government meddled and muddled crony system we have today.

        1. Don Shor

          The only sites I find that refer to Shkreli as Jewish are very fringe, to put it mildly. In the future, I suggest you be more cautious about making references that play into stereotypes.

        2. Frankly

          Yeah, I accept that advise.  It really does not matter that he is Jewish or not other than, like I wrote, to make a case about group membership relative to Tia’s attempts to brand him as one of those evil conservative capitalists.

    2. hpierce

      Seems like I recall another individual who criticized liberal/socialist/communist Jews, blamed the national government for all the economic woes of the country, railed against the folk that have a ‘genetic defect’… his name escapes me… sorta’ remember it was in the 1920’s-30’s… might be more recently, in ‘discussions’ leading up to the Iowa caucuses… might have been on this blog… AH… I guess I need to ‘re-boot’ to figure out who I’m thinking of… and, I may be incorrect in my recollection…

      Mine error…

  8. Tia Will

    Frankly,

    Thanks for replying. However I do have a few follow up questions for you.

    1. On WalMart – can you then clarify what you did not like about their business model. Perhaps I was misinterpreting your comment. And relevance of the reasons for the ability or lack thereof to find a job. It there isn’t one available whether from government regulation or by billionaire indifference makes no difference whatsoever to the person who cannot find work, nor to their family. It is the lower down individuals on the economic scale who suffer material damage. So much for the ladder of opportunity !

    2. On Shkreli – relevance of his political affiliation and ethnicity or religion ?  I believe that I should have made clear by now that it is my belief that “scum” exists on all parts of the political spectrum which is also true of people of all religions.

    3. On Trump – again, relevance ?  I do not claim to like every law passed by the government. When a law allows a billionaire to bail himself out using existing law while stiffing his employees does not mean that he must do so. Only that he can. So how does this let him off the moral hook  for the material damage he chose to inflict on his employees ?

     

    1. Frankly

      1. I don’t have a problem with the Walmart business model.  They open stores in economically depressed and high-crime areas where there would otherwise be no stores and no jobs working in the stores.  They provide lower-price goods that low-income people benefit from.  They offer employment for a wage and people take the jobs because they need the jobs.  Then you demonize them even in light of all this because they don’t hold up to your standards of Utopia.

      2. See above.  Many liberal Democrats generally don’t get capitalism and don’t honor it and tend to lie, steal and cheat in business like they do in politics.

      3. Bankruptcy laws exist to help business and individuals that end up unable to pay their debts.  How many homeowners have benefited from bankruptcy laws when the economy tanked and housing values crashed while their mortgage payments went up?  An individual part or full owner of a corporate business entity generally has protection from creditors of business debt going after his personal assets.  Would you really want banks to have this ability to go after individual assets for a failed business?  You demonize Trump for his wealth, but I know of local Davis investors in local business that failed… would you want the banks to be able to force them to sell their homes to pay off the business debt?  I am guessing not.  So why the double-standard?  The impact from bankruptcy is higher cost debt for 7 or more years depending on the type of bankruptcy.  So it is not without consequences.   In other words, when someone that files bankruptcy applies for a new loan they would have to pay a higher interest rate given their credit risk score derived from the loan underwriting process.

      The point is that Trump is not the hypocrite here.  He supports the business bankruptcy laws and takes advantage of them when he needs them.  And Trump’s enterprises employ almost 25,000 people.  Clinton is the hypocrite and does little with her significant wealth other than benefit her and Wild Bill.

      1. Barack Palin

        Walmart is closing hundreds of locations and pulling back from expansion in depressed areas.

        Hiking labor costs substantially likely means that some locations, previously marginal, will now be unprofitable, or at least, not profitable enough to bother keeping them open.

        It’s also announced that it’s closing a bunch of stores, and in my own fair city, declining to open stores long-promised for low-income neighborhoods

        Nonetheless, this should still give labor activists pause. The immediate takeaway is: Getting higher wages for workers seems to have, somewhat predictably, resulted in the company cutting back hours.

        I remember a few of us stating this is exactly what would happen when companies were forced to raise wages.

        http://finance.yahoo.com/news/beware-wal-marts-raises-not-163730718.html

         

        1. Barack Palin

          Walmart’s business model has been an ongoing conversation on here so now it’s way off topic?  So I guess whether or not Shkreli is Jewish is on topic?

          1. David Greenwald

            I wasn’t monitoring the discussion, but given the topic of the article, there is no way you can justify a discussion on Walmart as being on-topic.

  9. Tia Will

    David

    You are right. I managed to divert the conversation and my only defense is that I consider “isms” including materialism to be key to understanding many aspects of violence in our society and that when we divide the violent up into the good guys and the bad guys, we are viewing the problem far too narrowly. Sorry.

  10. Don Shor

    [moderator] It really seems to me that there’s enough topic material here with respect to terrorism, religion, and political responses to those issues that all these side discussions are unnecessary. Can we please get back to the topic, stop calling each other names, and make this a productive conversation? Thanks. 

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