November 18, 2015

THROWDOWN THURSDAYS | Hillary or Bernie: Really?

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A couple of weeks ago, I wrote an article on how we cannot just wish ISIS away. With Friday’s attacks, the reality of that statement has become all the more apparent. Radical Islamism will not be defeated by words or thoughts, but through concrete action.

Like most, I mourned and prayed for the people of Paris. Growing up in a post-9/11 America, our generation is all too familiar with the pains felt by the French. We mourn for Paris, as we mourned for New York in 2001 and Boston in 2013, because Friday’s attacks were a direct assault on the Western ideals of freedom and the right to pursue a life of peace, prosperity and happiness. These ideals, forged through centuries of conflict and resilience, have come to define our way of life. If we are prepared to preserve this way of life, we cannot just stare at radical Islam and hope for the best.

As the fog of the attacks lifted in the hours and days following Friday night, the leaders of France made a series of bold declarations. Perhaps the most striking was President François Hollande’s statement that Friday’s attacks were a declaration of war by radical Islam. Yet on Saturday night, three Americans stood before a debate stage and produced language that exhibited neither the boldness nor the courage of the French. Rather, these three made statements that were weak, offensive and just plain bizarre.

Let’s start with Hillary’s refusal to use the words “radical Islam.” When asked whether “we are at war with radical Islam,” the former Secretary of State dodged the question by giving a winded and confusing answer on how we are “not at war with Islam.” Throughout the debate, both Senator Sanders and Governor O’Malley also refused to explicitly state the words “radical Islam.” But guess who was not afraid to call out our enemies by name: the President of France, the people of Paris, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and virtually every news source around the globe. If the rest of the world is not afraid to say the words “radical Islam,” why are the three Democratic candidates for president so terrified?

While Hillary’s failure to call out radical Islam was attacked in the press, nothing can compare to the blistering backlash she received for her 9/11 comments. In a long overdue attack, Bernie blasted the Clinton campaign for hypocritically attacking the wealthiest of Americans while accepting massive Wall Street donations. Hillary responded by saying that she received Wall Street contributions because she represented New York after the September 11 attacks. While I’m not a campaign strategist, I think everyone can agree that it isn’t wise to tie terrorism, Wall Street and your campaign donations into one statement. Naturally, everyone from Fox News to the New York Times editorial board was enraged with this comment. A well-noted response came from a tax law professor, who stated: “Have never seen a candidate invoke 9/11 to justify millions of Wall Street donations. Until now.” And an O’Malley campaign staffer tweeted: “My dad worked in WTC from the day it was built to the day it went down. Hillary Clinton, never invoke 9/11 to justify your Wall St positions.” Needless to say, Hillary’s comments were both crazy and highly offensive.

If Hillary’s weak, offensive and convoluted statements weren’t enough, Senator Sanders helped to add even more fuel to the fire. In an attempt to highlight the importance of climate change, the Vermont senator tried to connect global warming to an increase in international conflicts, stating that competition for agricultural and water resources could lead to war. Surely, I agree with the basic premise of this statement, as a decrease in resources could easily lead to conflict. However, Bernie took it a step further by stating that the rise in global terrorism was correlated with climate change. Here is where the senator is terribly ill informed. Islamic terrorism, particularly ISIS, has grown into a movement to establish an Arab world rooted in the principles of shari’a law and Islamic social justice. The movement has not grown in response to resource competition, but rather to a perceived lack of moral governance and anger towards Western ideals.

So, the debate revealed several major points. First, each Democratic candidate is unwilling to call out our enemies by name. Second, Hillary somehow thinks that the September 11 attacks make her worthy of Wall Street donations. And finally, Bernie’s bizarre connection between terrorism and climate change further displays his lack of foreign policy credentials. As we watch France pick itself up from Friday’s attacks, I ask that each of us reflect on the lessons of Paris. If we want to ensure the security of our nation for the next four years, should we really look to Bernie or Hillary?