March 18, 2019

New Zealand Attack

Editor's note: We couldn’t be more proud of one of our teammates, Isaac Rose-Berman, who penned his first op-ed this week in USA Today: “How college students can bridge American divides: 'Study abroad' in Alabama or New York.” Please give it a read, and share far and wide!

“A gunman shot dead 49 people and wounded more than 40 at two New Zealand mosques on Friday, some as they were kneeling at prayer, livestreaming online some of the killings in what Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called an assault on the nation’s values.” Reuters

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From the Left

The left is calling for collective action against far-right extremism.

“The atrocities in New Zealand highlight three emerging trends in the West: Attacks against Muslim targets, the use of social media as a platform for terrorists to share livestream videos, and the violent targeting of houses of worship… 

“The New Zealand attacker said he had previously flirted with a number of ideologies including communism, anarchism, and libertarianism. Eventually, he settled on militant white nationalism. This suggests that like many terrorists before him, he may have had unresolved grievances in his life and was shopping for an ideology that allowed him to act violently. Regardless, he is a product of these tumultuous times -- and certainly not the last of his kind.”
Peter Bergen, CNN

“Thoughts and prayers are not enough. These attacks are the latest manifestation of a growing and globalized ideology of white nationalism that must be addressed at its source — which includes the mainstream politicians and media personalities who nurture, promote and excuse it.”
Wajahat Ali, New York Times

“A focus on Islamist violence should not distract us from the growing threat of right-wing violence. While 9/11 is the deadliest terrorist attack in U.S. history, the second-worst was Timothy McVeigh’s 1995 bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building, which killed 168 people. The Anti-Defamation League reports that in the United States, ‘right-wing extremists collectively have been responsible for more than 70 percent of the 427 extremist-related killings over the past 10 years, far outnumbering those committed by left-wing extremists or domestic Islamist extremists’...

“When we confront Islamist violence, we rightly focus not only on the perpetrators but also on their networks — on what drove them to kill… We need to apply the same methodology to right-wing terrorists and root out the ideology that inspires them.”
Max Boot, Washington Post

“Since 2001, governments around the world have approached online Islamist radicalism with grim seriousness, blocking its financial sources, searching out potential terrorists, working with Internet platforms to stop its spread. By contrast, we have yet to treat white supremacism with anything like the same kind of vigor. Many hours after the New Zealand shooting, it was still ridiculously easy to find the video online. There are few special government programs to fight the milder forms of this violent ideology, and relatively little time has been devoted to thinking about it…

“While we dither, the death toll — in Norway, South Carolina, Britain — continues to rise. And the alternate world continues to tell jokes, make memes — and draw people in.”
Anne Applebaum, Washington Post

“All kinds of ideas, good and evil, go viral through social media. Societies can’t outlaw hate. Government cannot regulate thought or ban words. In the United States, the First Amendment doesn’t take sides. Short of explicit threats, free speech must be free, which limits the ability of lawmakers to prevent eruptions of hate like the one in New Zealand. But that doesn’t mean civilized societies are powerless. Gatekeepers such as Facebook and other social media purveyors do have a responsibility to patrol and regulate their own venues. And all of us have a responsibility to eradicate racial supremacy and other vile forms of bigotry.”
Editorial Board, Chicago Tribune

Many note that “Biden’s opposition to [marijuana] legalization… puts him at odds with the great majority of Democrats, 75-plus percent of whom back legalization. Biden’s opposition even puts him at odds with the median Republican, with polls showing that even a majority of Republicans support legalization. Politically, then, legalization should be low-hanging fruit… Yet Biden is not quite there… It’s an especially bad look for Biden. He has a long record of pushing for punitive criminal justice and drug policies — not just supporting but actually writing many of the laws in the 1980s and ’90s that helped shape America’s modern war on drugs. For Biden to hang on to marijuana prohibition, then, just reinforces one of the major concerns that criminal justice reformers like Booker have about him.”
German Lopez, Vox

Others argue that “Biden was almost the only one on the stage who talked like a normal person. There was a point near the end of the debate when he was talking about getting men involved in stopping domestic violence and he said that we need to keep ‘punching’ at it… I knew that the twitterati and the analysts would tut tut. Ol’ Joe is just out of touch! He doesn’t know you can’t use words like that. Meanwhile, every non-political junkie watching the debate thought there was nothing wrong with this. Biden was just using ordinary language, not worrying too much if it was fully approved by the woke brigade.”
Kevin Drum, Mother Jones

From the Right

The right is skeptical of attempts to ban extreme views.

From the Right

The right is skeptical of attempts to ban extreme views.

“The rise of social media and the ability to live-stream an attack give sick killers an added incentive to do their deeds with a huge, international audience of transfixed viewers… [The attacker] knew that with a few clicks he could set in motion an orchestra to amplify his misdeeds, with corrosive aftershocks for weeks and months to come… As a technology-obsessed society, we must examine whether our insatiable appetite for stimulation provides an impetus for these killers to commit murders in the most public and shocking way possible.”
Harmeet K. Dhillon, Fox News

But “don’t think for one second that we can fix this new problem by yelling at social-media companies to ‘do better’ — to demand that they block videos before they can be seen. It’s an impossible task. The Internet is too diffuse, and the technology of video broadcast too ubiquitous. There is no ability to effectively, instantaneously police abuse… I have a sick, sinking feeling that a vicious terrorist just ‘figured out’ a path to even greater notoriety.”
David French, National Review

“It is the culture that built up the internet — one the shooter is intimately familiar with — that is at least as much the problem here as the internet’s basic infrastructure or how tech firms are responding. Users should probably have better moderation tools at their disposal, but what about our fellow humans who actively desire this sort of content in their feeds or timelines? Or the politicians who egg them on, whether explicitly or with subtlety, or ignore what appears to be a global supremacist movement that hates the West? Some panicky pols would temporarily (I hope only temporarily) shut down various platforms during events like those in New Zealand. While terrorists take advantage of our open society, they also hate it. Let’s not do their job for them.”
James Pethokoukis, American Enterprise Institute

“There are already calls to deplatform two people mentioned in the manifesto… But astute observers have discerned the shooter’s claims that [they] drove him to action to be sarcastic. Did he intend to draw extra attention to them, to convince social-media platforms to jettison them, and to create a backlash among their fanbases? As with the gun debate, the shooter might have been trying to provoke a response that would radicalize his in-group and drive others into its arms....

“This doesn’t mean the conversations about gun policy and social-media moderation should be off-limits simply because the shooter wanted to provoke them. But... we should be able to condemn the evil ideology he represents while also being careful not to accidentally become vectors of it ourselves — whether that means uncritically sharing a manifesto, or unwittingly behaving as the shooter anticipated."
Theodore Kupfer, National Review

“There is never, ever any justification for what he did. But if we are going to figure out how to stop these things, we have to take seriously the roots of it

“The world is undergoing unprecedented upheavals caused in part by technology, and certainly amplified by technology. This is only going to get more severe. We also live in a time in which masses of people have genuinely been uprooted from all sources of stability. The greatest task for political leaders, it seems to me, is to figure out how to keep society relatively stable during this long period of tumult.”
Rod Dreher, The American Conservative

“If a dozen drones or missiles can do the kind of damage to the world economy as did those fired on Saturday—shutting down about 6 percent of world oil production—imagine what a U.S.-Iran-Saudi war would do to the world economy. In recent decades, the U.S. has sold the Saudis hundreds of billions of dollars of military equipment. Did our weapons sales carry a guarantee that we will also come and fight alongside the kingdom if it gets into a war with its neighbors?… the nation does not want another war. How we avoid it, however, is becoming difficult to see. John Bolton may be gone from the West Wing, but his soul is marching on.”
Patrick Buchanan, The American Conservative

Others note, “I’d hate to be a Democratic member of Congress trying to convince Joe Sixpack that this is a whole new ballgame. The transcript shows Trump being Trump and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky trying to ingratiate himself with the big dog by, for instance, mentioning that he stays at Trump hotels. Trump’s conversation is typically scattershot, wandering all over the field, leaving a reasonable listener puzzled about what the takeaways are supposed to be…

“I think Joe Sixpack’s response is going to be a hearty shrug. After all that has emerged about Trump so far, his approval rating is closely tracking Obama’s approval at the same point in his presidency. To get Mr. Sixpack’s attention you are going to have to do better than this.”
Kyle Smith, National Review

President Trump should be happy. As much as Warren is articulate, obviously intelligent, and energetically supported by Democrats, she would also be far easier to defeat than Joe Biden… Considering Trump's economy, the president is well placed to defeat Warren.”
Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner

A libertarian's take

“After adding in the ultra-millionaire’s tax and factoring in the other capital taxes Warren wants to levy — on financial transactions, on unrealized capital gains, on corporations — we’d be asking every billionaire to hand over more than two-thirds of their total wealth over a 10-year period. If the government actually managed to collect it, their fortunes would rapidly erode — and so would tax collections. The plan might be a good way to smash wealth, but it’s a terrible way to fund the nation’s health-care system…

“If Warren makes it to the White House, and tries to pass a plan, the Congressional Budget Office will eventually attach more reasonable numbers, with more defensible assumptions, sparking an even more spectacular political blowback than the one that greeted Friday’s announcement. Outside of the progressive Twitterati, there isn’t necessarily an enormous constituency for spending $20.5 trillion to herd every American into a national health insurance program; there would be even less support for spending what Warren’s plan would actually cost.”
Megan McArdle, Washington Post

On the bright side...

A couple created Good Boy, a line of beer your dog can drink.
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