Jun 15th 2016

Donald Trump’s Dangerous, Panic-Stricken Speech on the Orlando Massacre

by Charles J. Reid, Jr.

Charles J. Reid, Jr. was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where he majored in Latin, Classics, and History, and also did substantial coursework in classical Greek and modern European languages. It was during his undergraduate days that he developed an interest in canon law, doing a year of directed research in Roman and canon law under the supervision of James Brundage. Reid then attended the Catholic University of America, where he earned J.D. and J.C.L. (license in canon law) degrees. During his time at Catholic University, he organized a series of symposia on the bishops' pastoral letter on nuclear arms. The proceedings of these symposia were published under Reid's editorship as "Peace in a Nuclear Age: The Bishops' Pastoral Letter in Perspective" (Catholic University of America Press, 1986). This book was called by the New York Times "among the most scholarly and unsettling of responses" to the pastoral letter (December 28, 1986).Reid then attended Cornell University, where he earned a Ph.D. in the history of medieval law under the supervision of Brian Tierney. His thesis at Cornell was on the Christian, medieval origins of the western concept of individual rights. Over the last ten years, he has published a number of articles on the history of western rights thought, and is currently completing work on a book manuscript addressing this question.In 1991, Reid was appointed research associate in law and history at the Emory University School of Law, where he has worked closely with Harold Berman on the history of western law. He collaborated with Professor Berman on articles on the Lutheran legal science of the sixteenth century, the English legal science of the seventeenth century, and the flawed premises of Max Weber's legal historiography.While at Emory, Reid has also pursued a research agenda involving scholarship on the history of western notions of individual rights; the history of liberty of conscience in America; and the natural-law foundations of the jurisprudence of Judge John Noonan. He has also published articles on various aspects of the history of the English common law. He has had the chance to apply legal history in a forensic setting, serving as an expert witness in litigation involving the religious significance of Christian burial. Additionally, Reid has taught a seminar on the contribution of medieval canon law to the shaping of western constitutionalism.  Recently, Reid has become a featured blogger at the Huffington Post on current issues where religion, law and politics intersect.

One should never shout fire in a crowded theater. In his panic-stricken response to the horrifying massacre that occurred over the weekend at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Donald Trump has come close to doing just that.

Crises demand a coolness of purpose and language. That is especially so where ISIS-inspired terrorism is concerned. News reports indicate that ISIS is a weakening, not a growing, threat in the Middle East and around the world. The territory it controls in Syria and Iraq is shrinking daily. Its access to money and weapons has been gravely impaired. Indeed, there are credible news reports indicating that ISIS has been forced to execute deserters from its ranks as a last-gasp means of keeping its own adherents from abandoning the cause.

If this is the case, then we should not want to embark on a course of action that will only succeed in reinvigorating a movement that will soon enough collapse. Unfortunately, the proposals Donald Trump advanced in his speech of June 13 will have precisely that effect. Indeed, they will weaken the United States and gravely damage our interests in the Middle East and throughout the Islamic world.

Let us review the steps that Trump has proposed the United States undertake. First, he has reiterated his plan to close down immigration from the Arab Middle East and from other predominantly Islamic nations. Where to begin? Despite Trump’s bluster, his proposal is not a show of strength but a declaration of fear and panic. It says to the world that we stand in such abject fear of one of the world’s great religions that we shall try to prevent its followers from traveling to or residing within the United States.

The consequences of such a ban would be devastating to America. We are a global nation. Everyday we invite the world to our shores, to do business, to marvel at our nation’s beauty, to attend our colleges and universities, and to seek out the world’s best medical care. Think of the impact of shutting down travel from Islamic nations. There would be no engineers from Egypt or Jordan. There would be no gifted surgeons from Kuwait or Pakistan. Professors from Indonesia to Tunisia would be forbidden to deliver papers or to exchange ideas with our greatest minds. There would be no eager young students from Malaysia or Qatar. The world works through intellectual, economic, cultural, and social interchange. The Trump ban would cut off the circulation of world talent that makes America great.

We would, in other words, erect castle walls and moats around our nation and hunker down in irrational fear. We must not do that. Americans ought not to live in trembling and trepidation, withdrawn and isolated from the wider world.

Not only would the Trump ban plunge Americans into fear and isolation, it would empower ISIS. ISIS has announced that its purpose is to eliminate the “gray zones,” those spheres of coexistence, cooperation, and ambiguity where Muslims living in the West interact on a daily basis with the secular world.

Donald Trump’s plan would effectively do ISIS’s dirty work for them. He would blow up the gray zones and substitute for them a binary choice: our way, or ISIS’s. William McCants of Brookings Institution wrote that ISIS “selected a stark black for [their] flag rather than green, yellow, or white; the color suits their Manichean world view, which permits no gray areas.” (ISIS Apocalypse, p. 151). Donald Trump would have us hoist the very same flag of defeat and despair.

This is bad enough but there are yet other destructive elements to Trump’s speech that require attention. He called upon Americans to conduct surveillance on one another. “The Muslim community,” he stated, “has to work with us.” “They have to cooperate with law enforcement and turn in the people who they know are bad. They know, and they have to do it, and they have to do it forthwith.”

Trump should know that most Muslims are like most other Americans. They work hard, pay their taxes, and seek better lives for their children. And, yes, like other Americans they cooperate with law enforcement.

Trump’s call for self-surveillance and self-policing has an authoritarian quality to it. Neighborhood vigilantism was a feature of Soviet Communism and of fascists everywhere. Police your neighbors, ferret out their hidden thoughts, and if they harbor forbidden ideas, report them to the authorities.

Does Trump have any idea how such a system can be abused? How such systems have been historically exploited to take petty vengeance on neighbors who just don’t quite “fit in?” The tyranny of the neighborhood watch committee has been a staple of oppressive regimes around the world. And now Donald Trump wants to build such a system on shores? I think it is time to question Trump’s loyalty. Just how un-American is he?

Trump, finally, would empower gun owners. There is much that was horrifying about his speech, but ask yourselves whether this was not the single most frightening passage: “I will be meeting with the NRA, . . . to discuss how to ensure Americans have the means to protect themselves in this age of terror. I will always be defending the Second Amendment.”

And just what would the NRA propose as a solution? Their steady recommendation is to put ever more weapons in the hands of ever more Americans. So, the way to solve gun violence is with more gun violence? We are a nation of guns and gun owners. There are more than 300 million guns in the United States, more guns than there are adults. A depressingly large number of Americans already fetishize their guns. It would make more sense to pass an assault weapons ban. Or would Donald Trump arm us all with AK-47’s subsidized by the federal government?

There are yet other aspects of the speech too absurd to merit comment, such as the conspiracy-mongering about President Obama. This is McCarthyism relived as farce.

There is, however, one aspect of his speech which I will refrain from criticizing, and that was his expression of solidarity with the LGBT community. This, after all, is more than many members of his Party have had the courage to say. Paul Ryan (R.-Donor Class), for one, in his statement of June 12, never mentioned that the targets of this heinous attack were gay. As bad as Trump is, Ryan managed to be even more craven.

In truth, this horrific mass murder in Orlando has a depressing familiarity to it. How, really, does Omar Mateen’s crime differ from that of the alleged mass murderer Dylann Roof? Roof was motivated by white supremacy. He flew the Confederate flag, he made racist jokes, and visited white supremacist web sites before entering that Charleston church. And while we do not know all the particulars about Mateen’s path to mass homicide, I am guessing that there are some resemblances to Dylann Roof’s journey.

Omar Mateen is a domestic terrorist, no different than the Charleston church shooter. They each found extremist ideologies that gave them license to act on their darkest impulses. The problem we face, in other words, is that of dealing with domestic terrorists armed with guns. And lamentably, Donald Trump does not even know what to call this crisis.

 


This article is brought to you by the author who owns the copyright to the text.

Should you want to support the author’s creative work you can use the PayPal “Donate” button below.

Your donation is a transaction between you and the author. The proceeds go directly to the author’s PayPal account in full less PayPal’s commission.

Facts & Arts neither receives information about you, nor of your donation, nor does Facts & Arts receive a commission.

Facts & Arts does not pay the author, nor takes paid by the author, for the posting of the author's material on Facts & Arts. Facts & Arts finances its operations by selling advertising space.

 

 

Browse articles by author

More Essays

Nov 19th 2021
EXTRACTS: "At a time when the struggle between authoritarianism and democracy is so intense, if not fateful for the future of democracies, NATO and the EU must warn these countries [Editor's note: Poland and Hungary, EU and NATO, Turkey NATO] that they are on the precipice of being kicked out if they do not change their governing practice. They must be required to restore the principles of democracy by upholding universal human rights and abiding the rule of law, or else they will forfeit their membership and suffer from the consequences of their crimes." ------ "A narcissistic leader, such as Trump, whose hunger for power seems to know no limit, has happily sacrificed the good of the country on the altar of his twisted ego. America’s democracy cannot be repaired unless he and those who helped him are held accountable and face the weight of the law."
Nov 18th 2021
EXTRACT: "Many people who go through intense trauma, for example, become deeper and stronger than they were before. They may even undergo a sudden and radical transformation that makes life more meaningful and fulfilling. Indeed, research shows that between half and one-third of all people experience significant personal development after traumatic events, such as bereavement, serious illness, accidents or divorce. Over time, they may feel a new sense of inner strength and confidence and gratitude for life and other people. They may develop more intimate and authentic relationships and have a wider perspective, with a clear sense of what is important in life and what isn’t. In psychology, this is referred to as “post-traumatic growth”. "
Nov 11th 2021
EXTRACT: "Notably, Murdoch thinks that really knowing or understanding another person is a difficult task: “It is a task to come to see the world as it is”. According to the Freudian psychology Murdoch subscribes to in The Sovereignty of Good, humans are prone to “fantasy” – refusing to face the truth because it can damage our fragile egos."
Nov 9th 2021
EXTRACT: "People do not believe false information because they are ignorant. There are many factors at work, but most researchers would agree that the belief in misinformation has little to do with the amount of knowledge a person possesses. Misinformation is a prime example of motivated reasoning. People tend to arrive at the conclusions they want to reach as long as they can construct seemingly reasonable justifications for these outcomes."
Oct 28th 2021
EXTRACTS: "Brood with me on the latest delay of the full release of the records pertaining to the murder of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas on November 22, 1963. That was 58 years ago." -----"Mark my words: ...... No one who remembers 1963 will live to see the US government admit the full truth about Kennedy’s murder. And the American people’s faith in democracy will continue to fade. There is only one way to prevent this, and that is to release every record, withholding nothing – and to do it now."
Oct 27th 2021
EXTRACT: "..... we may defy the warnings of modern medicine, convinced of our own superiority. Researchers at the University of Chicago Divinity School reported half of their participants, all of whom indicated some religious affiliation, agreed with the statement “God will protect me from being infected”. To cope with our dread of death, we delude ourselves into thinking we are invincible: death might happen to other people, but not to me."
Oct 22nd 2021
EXTRACT: "Wes Anderson’s new film The French Dispatch is about the final issue of a magazine that specialises in long-form articles about the goings-on in the fictional town of Ennui-sur-Blasé. The film is an anthology of shorts representing three of the articles. A piece by the magazine’s art critic (Tilda Swinton) explores the life and late success of the abstract artist Moses Rosenthaler (Benicio Del Toro). Talented from a young age, Rosenthaler pursued art with a dogged determination that drove him to slowly lose his mind." ---- "Like everything else, mental illness is understood within the context of its time. In their study of melancholy and genius Born Under Saturn, the art historians Margot and Rudolf Wittkower show how Renaissance artists embraced mental alienation. This was shown by a withdrawn, slothful gloom. Such heavy sadness was considered both the symptom and the price of divine inspiration." ---- "Today, the association of creativity and mental illness often implies regression from an adult and orderly state of mind to one that is primal, impulsive, or infantile. The artist in Anderson’s film is such an example: he is noisy, impetuous, and extravagantly mad. And it is while he is at his “maddest” that he paints his best work." ---- "Here I explore the work of four painters whose work has been shaped by various mental illnesses, highlighting how the idea of the “mad artist” need not be tied up with a loss of control but rather a bid to gain it."
Oct 21st 2021
EXTRACT: "So much of Succession holds a mirror to real life, and the way that Logan Roy’s hand-picked board members allowed these abuses to continue by turning a blind eye to them is a good example. We have just published research that shows that public companies whose directors are chosen by their CEOs are statistically more likely to be involved in corporate misconduct, along with various other shortcomings. So why does this happen, and what should be done about it? "
Oct 10th 2021
EXTRACT: "Born in Zanzibar in 1948, Gurnah came to Britain in the 1960s as a refugee. Being of Arab origin, he was forced to flee his birthplace during the revolution of 1964 and only returned in 1984 in time to visit his dying father. Until his retirement, he was a full-time professor of English and postcolonial literatures at the University of Kent in Canterbury."
Oct 7th 2021
EXTRACT: "As the 25th James Bond film No Time to Die hits the cinemas, we are once again reminded of the way that disability is depicted negatively in Hollywood films. The new James Bond film features three villains, all of who have facial disfigurements (Blofeld, Safin and Primo). If you take a closer look at James Bond villains throughout history, the majority have facial disfigurements or physical impairments. This is in sharp contrast to the other characters, including James Bond, who are able-bodied and presented with no physical bodily differences. Indeed, many films still rely on outdated disability tropes, including Star Wars and various Disney classics. Rather than simply being part of a character’s identity, the physical difference is exploited and exaggerated to become a plot point and visual metaphor for villains" ----- "The British Film Institute (BFI) was the first organisation to sign up and has committed to stop funding films that feature negative representations depicted through scars or facial differences – a step in the right direction."
Oct 5th 2021
EXTRACT: "The trillions of microbes inside of our gut play many very important roles in our body. Not only does this “microbiome” regulate our metabolism and help us absorb nutrients from food into the body, it can also influence whether we are lean or obese."
Sep 16th 2021
EXTRACTS: "Hyperbaric oxygen therapy involves breathing pure oxygen in a pressurised chamber. In the chamber, the air pressure is increased two to three times higher than normal air pressure. It is commonly used to treat decompression sickness (a condition scuba divers can suffer from), carbon monoxide poisoning,......" ---- "Blood flow to the brain is reduced in people with Alzheimer’s. This study showed increased blood flow to the brain in the mice receiving oxygen therapy, which helps with the clearance of plaques from the brain, and reduces inflammation – a hallmark of Alzheimer’s." ----- "The researchers then used these findings to assess the effectiveness of oxygen therapy in six people over the age of 65 with cognitive decline. They found that 60 sessions of oxygen therapy, over 90 days, increased blood flow in certain areas of the brain and significantly improved the patients’ cognitive abilities – improved memory, attention and information processing speed."
Sep 14th 2021
EXTRACT: "Hollywood for years called on Charles Boyer to typify one French look –  bedroom eyes, sly maneuverings, the dismissive look. A face of another type, the massive mug and narrow eyes of Charles de Gaulle, provides the same disdain of the foreigner but also a superiority based on his belief in his own destiny."
Sep 12th 2021
EXTRACT: "The burden of loneliness for older people is intimately connected to what they are alone with. As we reach the end of our lives, we frequently carry heavy burdens that have accumulated along the way, such as feelings of regret, betrayal and rejection. And the wounds from past relationships can haunt people all their lives."
Sep 5th 2021
EXTRACT: "Gardens help restore the ability to concentrate on demanding tasks, providing the perfect space for a break when working from home in a pandemic. Natural things – such as trees, plants and water – are particularly easy on the eye and demand little mental effort to look at. Simply sitting in a garden is therefore relaxing and beneficial to mental wellbeing."
Aug 17th 2021
EXTRACT: "Whether or not a person achieves remission, reducing blood sugar levels is important in managing the negative effects of type 2 diabetes and reducing risk of complications. But when it comes to choosing a diet, the most important thing is to pick one that suits you – one that you’re likely to stick to long term."
Aug 10th 2021
EXTRACT: "In our latest study, we show that by taking the microbiome from young mice and transplanting them into old mice, many of the effects of ageing on learning and memory and immune impairments can be reversed. Using a maze, we showed that this faecal microbiota transplant from young to old mice led to the old mice finding a hidden platform faster."
Aug 3rd 2021
EXTRACT: "Fukuyama argued that political struggle causes history. This struggle tries to solve the problem of thymos – an ancient Greek term referring to our desire to have our worth recognised. This desire can involve wanting to be recognised as equal to others. But it can also involve wanting to be recognised as superior to others. A stable political system needs to accommodate both desires." .... "Counter-dominant spite can weaken liberal democracies. During the 2016 Brexit referendum, some people in the UK voted Leave to spite elites, knowing this could damage the country’s economy. Similarly, during the 2016 US presidential election some voters supported Donald Trump to spite Hillary Clinton, knowing his election could harm the US. "
Jul 31st 2021
EXTRACT: "If we want to live in a world that is good for pollinators, as well as the rest of us, big changes are needed in our environment, and our food system. This is why many beekeepers change their diet and their shopping, eating more locally grown vegetables that aren’t treated with pesticides. ...... Being willing to buy fruit and vegetables that may have the occasional insect living in it is better for us and for nature. To live more harmoniously with the natural world, we need to relax about larvae in the lettuce and slugs in the spinach."
Jul 22nd 2021
EXTRACT: "You’d think our brush with mortality through the pandemic would have brought some of this home to us. You’d think it would give us pause for thought about what really matters to us: the kind of world we want for our children; the kind of society we want to live in. And for many people it has. In a survey carried out during lockdown in the UK, 85% of respondents found something in their changed conditions they felt worth keeping and fewer than 10% wanted a complete return to normal."