Friday 21 October 2016

More violence the better for Trump, with his campaign propelled by fear

Niall O'Dowd

Published 14/06/2016 | 02:30

Supporters hold up signs while listening to Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump during a campaign rally in Tampa, Florida. REUTERS/Scott Audette
Supporters hold up signs while listening to Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump during a campaign rally in Tampa, Florida. REUTERS/Scott Audette

The Orlando massacre is just the latest dreadful twist in an American election season that has defied all logic and comprehension. Unfortunately, it will likely help Donald Trump far more than Hillary Clinton.

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Trump has been shouting "fire" in this particular theatre for some time now, warning that the Muslim hordes are coming to America. This terrible incident will make believers out of more Americans than ever, convinced they are about to be bombarded by terrorist atrocities.

Since 9/11, America has changed. Many feel the open and generous spirit of its immigration policies are being exploited by those intent on doing it harm. Like in Britain, Europe and elsewhere, they want a crackdown on immigration, especially from the Arab world. Trump has been their champion.

But America also has to face the fact that like this latest killer, Omar Mateen - born and raised an American - home-grown terrorists have become a reality. There's no easy way to lock down your borders when the enemy is within.

It all leads to a more paranoid existence, a feeling of enemies everywhere, and fuels a candidate like Trump who is using such fears to propel himself to the White House, he hopes.

There is a terrible synergy between Trump and the terrorists - the more violence the better for Trump.

The more extreme a president Trump would be, the greater the recruiting tool for Isil all over the world. The more Isil grows, the more an invasion of their hinterlands will be insisted on.

Trump would be only too happy to oblige and likely send tens of thousands of Americans to their death.

But we are not there yet. Clinton still stands between Trump's ambition and Trump gaining power. But it may be a very close-run thing, especially if the atrocities continue and Trump benefits.

As David Remnick, editor of the New Yorker, wrote this week, if Hillary fails, "power will be in the hands of a malevolent fraud. And then what? A disaster beyond the imagining of any screenwriter".

So the debate begins - and what a critical one it is.

Can non-existent gun laws, where killers like Mateen have complete access to assault rifles despite once being on an FBI watch list, be stopped? If so, how?

Right now the country, as usual, is split down the middle between the gun advocates - who argue the problem is we are too easy on Islamic terrorists and should use torture and any means possible to break up their cells - and those who say that crazy killers like Mateen should never be allowed to get guns in the first place and that gun availability is the real problem.

Trump, on Twitter, claimed victory for his view that more torture, deportation and law and order - including building a wall along the US-Mexican border - is the way to go.

Of course, when the Orlando killing spree happened Trump, as usual, overplayed his hand, almost wetting himself with excitement on Twitter, rushing to say he had predicted this and claiming credit for doing so.

It pointed out his massive ego, as he opted to claim victory on the issue first rather than display empathy for the loved ones of those killed. His statement was in contrast to Clinton, who reached out to commiserate with the families, while his was seen as a juvenile effort to wring political advantage out of personal tragedy.

Sadly, it may work. America is frightened and deeply fearful of such killings occurring in their home towns, given the extremely random nature of the slayings so far. But the Orlando killings did also ask some tough questions about government anti-terrorist policies. After all, this was a man on the FBI watch list on two separate occasions, who purchased an assault rifle and another weapon last week.

In addition, Mateen's father appeared to be some kind of extremist Taliban supporter in exile, whose weekly TV show warmly praised the Taliban fighters who are engaged in combat in Afghanistan.

However, the current law denies the FBI access to the information that Mateen purchased guns, including an assault rifle, on the grounds of privacy and Second Amendment rights.

It is insane but terrorists in America, even ones like those who brought down the World Trade Centre and those known to the FBI, cannot be disallowed from buying weapons because of the policy that they are protected by the Second Amendment, the right to keep and bear arms.

Consider this news story on NBC on how the GOP blocked efforts to ban guns going to terrorists on the watch list.

"Senate Republicans rejected a bill that aims to stop suspected terrorists from legally buying guns on Thursday. The vote came a day after at least 14 people were killed during the San Bernardino massacre in California by two suspects, including a woman said to have pledged allegiance to Isis (Isil).

"Forty-five senators voted for the bill and 54 voted against it...the measure would have denied people on the terrorist watch list the ability to buy guns."

There is a solution, though, for the anti-gun lobby. It is under Republican appointees to the Supreme Court that the Second Amendment has been broadened to allow such insane policies, especially the Heller case which greatly widened the ability to acquire weapons.

What is needed, of course, is common sense. The next president is likely to appoint at least three Supreme Court justices to a court currently deadlocked at 4-4.

If Clinton wins they will unlikely be gun-happy, good old boys like some of the Republicans currently on the court.

That may be the single biggest reason to hope for a Democratic president.

Irish Independent

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