Reprinted from The Guardian
Judging by the range of irrational responses to the Paris attacks, you'd think we have learned absolutely nothing from the last 14 years of constant war and destruction in the Middle East. Worse, the president is one of the few people being somewhat rational about the whole situation -- and he is receiving nothing but criticism for it.
Fear is now the number-one commodity for politicians and federal agencies alike: the CIA and FBI are full CYA mode, scaring the American public by claiming the next attack is inevitable and blaming technology for their own failures. The State Department issued the vaguest possible "worldwide" travel alert possible on Monday, saying Americans should be on edge about the entire globe, with "terrorist groups continue[ing] to plan terrorist attacks in multiple regions."
On the Republican side, Chris Christie is supposedly gaining ground in the Republican primary specifically by invoking 9/11 and the fear surrounding it. Donald Trump is stoking xenophobic rage, and his fellow Republican candidates are dutifully and embarrassingly following his lead. Americans are suddenly terrified of terrorists despite the fact that you have roughly the same chance of dying from a terrorist attack as you do being crushed to death by falling furniture.
Cable television and pundits are doing their best to fuel the flames: questions to the president from CNN's Jim Acosta like, "why can't we take out these bastards?" -- as if there was some magic solution the White House has been sitting on but refuses to implement. Others seem to be pretending that we haven't spent the last year dropping thousands of bombs per month on Isis (by the way, I'm still waiting for a journalist to ask whether more bombing only increases the chance of a terrorist attack, as it almost certainly does).
Still others claim that if only Obama would call Isis "radical Islamic jihadists" rather than referring to them as simply "terrorists," then we'd be on our way to victory. All the Republicans who continually rip Obama for not using that phrase seem to forget it was the George W Bush administration who banned it from the government's lexicon because it was clearly counterproductive and sparked Muslims to turn against the US.