8:27: Barack and Michelle were transcendent, Biden was magnificent, the apolitical John Allen is right now driving the military into a frenzy, and Bernie brought down the house. But the finest moment of the week was just a few minutes ago, when the parents of Khizer Khan, a Muslim soldier who gave his life to save his comrades, spoke about what America truly was. And what it wasn’t, and what it cannot be. The best and truest moment was when the father offered Trump, who he was calling out by name, a copy of his ragged, dog-eared pocket Constitution.
He finished, though, with a call for anyone who cares about immigrants, who cares about religious plurality, and who cares about the rights of minorities, to vote. That they can’t sit this one out. Who knows the subtlety of his politics, but to me it was an implicit criticism of “Bernie or Bust” types. So what if you didn’t get every single thing you want? If Trump wins, some people will get nothing. They’ll be shut out, castigated, and demonized. The sacrifice of his son will be negated. The message is that you don’t have that right. You don’t have the right to sit this one out because your feelings are hurt. You don’t have the right to sit this out because more people voted for another candidate. If you do, if you arrogate unto yourself that right, then you are not progressive. You represent a party of one. You only represent your feelings.
More after the jump.
Where you going next?
In the late 50s and early 60s, there was a TV show called Have Gun, Will Travel. I’ll be honest: I don’t know if I ever have seen a single episode. Maybe on Channel 50 when I was a kid, on a TV that still had a dial, but there are no clear memories. Still, the name always stuck out. In my imagination, it captured a desolate and sad American west, where if you were a violent man, or at least someone willing to do violence, you could travel the vast landscape and keep order. Or at least someone’s version of order. Whether lawman or outlaw, and the two sides could shift back and forth, if you had a gun, you were always needed somewhere.
That might seem a flippant way to talk about the next stage of jihadism, but that is the spirit. Because the next stage is going to be the vast spread of foreign fighters, stateless men who have been trained in war, that will come when ISIS crumbles or partially crumbles in Iraq and Syria. Yesterday, in a speech overshadowed by Trump and the convention, FBI director James Comey laid it out: we’re going to see “a terrorist diaspora out of Syria like we’ve never seen before.” But what does that mean? Who are they?
While for years, the massive impact of suicide attacks, whether in Beirut or Tel Aviv or New York, dominated the news. That was our idea of jihad. And to be sure, it was terrifying, terrorism in the true sense. But with some exceptions, it was also always the short game. Suicide bombers were, by definition, expendable, regardless of their courage or conviction. The real force of jihad was the battle-tested soldiers who might not have been afraid to die, but who were more useful alive. These were men who were comfortable with violence, and with gun, traveled.
Might be the next President
Until the convention, Donald Trump’s insane and near-treasonous bafflegab of a presser yesterday dominated the news, especially his call for Russia to interfere with our election. That’s been pretty thoroughly covered elsewhere, so I want to make a few additional comments. I know writing about something some 20 hours after the fact is way too late, but I don’t think this news cycle should be over. There was so much in that press conference that defied imagination. It deserves to be talked about again and again, because, remember: this man could be President.
No way to get to it all now, but I want to highlight not specific policy things, because there are none except “Russia’s fine, ok?”. Instead I want to point out just how impossibly shallow this man is. The statements on Russia might have, as many said, “disqualify” him from the Presidency in a moral sense. But the rest of the words show that isn’t qualified, in the professional sense, to teach 3rd-grade social studies. He refuses to learn even the basics about the world, and can’t get through more than a tweet-length of a sentence without
He refuses to learn even the basics about the world, and can’t get through more than a tweet-length of a sentence without doubling-back, repeating himself, resorting to the verbal tricks of agreeing with himself, or (most often) self-aggrandizing. Insane anti-democratic fascistic tendencies aside, he’s really the most baffling incomprehensible public figure we’ve ever seen. Sarah Palin knew more about the world.