The bigger issue, in my opinion, is the lack of leadership by OUR leadership. The Commander-In-Chief. He is, after all, the Commander of the Armed Forces. Here's my struggle - a few weeks ago, Dylann Roof, a white man, walked into a church in South Carolina that had a black congregation. He shot and killed nine black people and, as the investigation ensued, he was seen in pictures holding a Confederate flag. That flag became the talking point, ad nauseum, and major focus of the story. It represented racism and was a symbol of hate. Let's remove it from the State House and government buildings. Okay, I'm with you so far. We are, after all, the United States of America and the only flag flying on government facilities and buildings should be that flag. Got it. We didn't let it go, though. To end racism and show our total disdain for the hatred associated with this flag, we not only removed it from said buildings, but we also had retailers refusing to sell it and a television network refuse to air reruns of a program where it was prominently displayed. I refer to this as the 'knee-jerk' reactionary phase. I'm still with you, though, on the flag part. Ridiculous, yes, but we allowed it to happen. We watched as the funeral services were held and President Obama did what he does best - he spoke, in person, before leading the congregation in, "Amazing Grace," along with the choir. The President told us, too, how, as a black man, blacks being killed in an overt show of racism 'hit close to home'. He immediately called for tougher gun laws (yeah, none of us saw THAT coming, huh?), yet said nothing about mental illness. Again, more knee-jerk reaction as we found out that we really don't need tougher gun laws - we need a system that works. Had the appropriate information been entered into the computer, the shooter would have been unable to purchase the gun in the first place and this conversation, along with nine funerals, would not have taken place. This was not on the guns, Mr President - this one fell squarely on the system designed to protect those nine people that died (along with the rest of us).
Fast forward to last Thursday. Youssuf Abdulazeez, a Kuwaiti-born man, kills four Marines and one sailor and the response from the President was, "My main message right now is obviously the deepest sympathies of the American people to the four Marines that have been killed. It is a heartbreaking circumstance for these individuals to be killed in this fashion." Wait, what? That's it? Mr President, no disrespect, but I heard you say more, with more passion and anger, about the situation in Charleston than about the senseless, avoidable tragedy and deaths of some of America's finest. Will you be flying to Chattanooga and speaking at the funerals while denouncing Muslim terrorists? Let me guess - there's nothing to point to the fact that this was, in fact, terrorism, right? Let me be the first (though I'm sure I'm not really) to point out that armed civilians are now valiantly guarding recruiting centers to protect our unarmed servicemen. That's terrorism. When we have to be concerned that ISIS and other Islamic jihadists may, in fact, kill us here in America, that qualifies as domestic terrorism. Still, Mr President, since we're already on the subject of flags, let me ask - why were flags across our country not ordered to be flown at half-staff? Not the Confederate flags, but the American flag that these young men swore to protect & defend. I realize they swore an oath to protect & defend the Constitution of the United States, but what symbol more openly symbolizes our Constitution and country? I just don't understand and, dare I say it, neither do the rest of the people I've spoken to.
While the family of this freak has already said he had a mental illness, do you think this time we could maybe, just maybe, start the conversation about mental health rather than guns? From everything I've seen, and I'm just spit-ballin' here, guns really don't kill people, but people with mental health issues are pretty damn good lately at showing what they can do when armed with a gun. Are we going to continue to blame the guns because it's such a 'hot-button' issue, or can we now focus on the real issue - mental health?
Lastly, Mr President, I need an explanation and some understanding. When, in my lifetime, I watched planes that were hijacked by Islamic radicals fly into our World Trade Center, then see the growth of ISIS, followed by this singular attack on American soil, can you please explain to me why I need to be concerned with offending Muslims? We can claim that whites that have the Confederate flag are racist because one idiot held a flag and believed our country would be better off without blacks, yet Muslims can kill thousands and we are not supposed to generalize and we hold their opinions in higher regard than the country's citizens? I have a problem with that. Big problem. Huge, even. Quite honestly, Mr President, I can tell you things are about to get worse if the country continues to be divided. Here's a thought....and one that many people (ones that I know, anyway) will agree with - if the people of the Islamic faith do not like the way they are being treated here in the US, we are fine with them going home to their country. The same country that beheads Americans and a place that is not safe for us at all - we're fine with their return. Sadly, I do not want to generalize like this but it's difficult to feel otherwise. Again, let me get this straight because I'm a bit shocked and appalled - we allow foreigners to move to our country, then we have to grant them more consideration than our own citizens? That's what you're saying? As a fed-up American, I can only offer this: NOT GOING TO HAPPEN.
In closing, I'd like to offer a challenge. A challenge that goes, not to the President, but to those that will read this that I know are staunch supporters of the President. There are those that have adamantly supported him in the past few years that, oddly, have been quite silent recently. I challenge anyone in that category to debate me (or anyone else that can keep it civil) about the President's actions over this past week. You've gotten loud, at times, in your defense of him because you think he is doing an amazing job as our Commander-In-Chief so now I offer you the floor - let's debate. Tell me how you justify his actions toward our military men....especially when some of you were in the military. Tell me how you think you'd feel if it were your son or daughter that had been killed, yet our President was more outspoken on the Confederate flag and the notion of its racist past. Tell me how you support his actions, yet he can barely utter more than a few sentences about our Marines, all while offering warm wishes to Muslims celebrating Eid-ul-Fitr. Anyone? Show of hands - anyone? I didn't think so, but I will still be waiting. A peaceful, open-minded, spirited debate. That's all I want.
Until next time.................