Please end the #strong movement

I want to speak on behalf of three cities — San Bernardino, Calif.; Las Vegas and Orlando. It’s a tad presumptuous to claim to represent so many people, but having lived in all three I have a good idea of what links them.

We are not #strong. We are not #VegasStrong. We are not #OrlandoStrong. We are definitely not the extremely clunky and hard for most to spell correctly #SanBernardinoStrong.

Hear me out. This is not meant to be rant against any political party or candidate.

We didn’t join the military en masse as many millennials did after 9/11 — keep that in mind the next time we want to rip that generation. We didn’t even feel compelled to do a few extra reps at the gym.

We are not #strong because after all this time, nobody has a firm grasp on what it means to be #strong.

Take San Bernardino. When I grew up in that city, it was a proud blue-collar area. It wasn’t idyllic as Christopher Robin frolicking with Pooh Bear in the Hundred Acre Wood, but it did instill worthwhile values. I look back at that time fondly because San Bernardino did play a role in the man I became. It was diverse and a little hardscrabble. You had to respect people of all walks of life. You had to earn your keep.

I hardly recognize San Bernardino today. Industry and its Air Force base closed up. One of its malls died. Heck, you have to search for any retail in the city above a liquor store. Since then, both city and county governments have faced major ethical scandals. The city itself declared bankruptcy due to horrific mismanagement.

So a couple of Muslim terrorists open fire on a holiday party and I’m supposed to accept #SanBernardinoStrong? I can’t. Why should I? What makes a corrupt city in ruins #strong?

Orlando and Las Vegas are financially better off and relatively stable places to be, but what makes them #strong? All the marquees and billboards in the cities proclaimed their #strength after another Muslim nutjob shot up the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, and believe me, you don’t have to convince me that lazy-eyed hillbilly was nuttier than a fruitcake when he opened fire from Mandalay Bay.

Being #strong isn’t limited to gun attacks, either. Boston was #strong after a bombing. Houston is said to be #strong after a flood. But what does that hashtag accomplish, exactly?

Now, people have gone to social media and asked us to #PrayFor these cities. I can respect that. I think it’s a precious gift for someone to pray for you or me, even if you don’t believe in a deity.

But did you ever notice that after 9/11, New Yorkers were not #NYCStrong? No. We stood with New York City. We were united with New York.

What I would suggest is that instead of false claims of strength, we consider telling people we are #OrlandoUnited or #VegasUnited.

Consider Orlando. I worked about two blocks from the Pulse, an LGBTQ club. You should have seen the city unite behind that community following the attacks. You hate Trump supporters? They were there to help, donating blood and money. Same for the Muslim community, I might add. I was there. I saw it. You now see the rainbow flag fly over much of that city, at Orlando City Soccer Club games, etc.

What if Houston united to make Texas safer from natural disasters?

Maybe in Las Vegas, we unite behind first responders. I doubt we join this anti-second amendment push I saw on social media, but perhaps we unite behind banning bump stocks. I don’t know yet, but what I hope for is that we unite for something bigger than ourselves.

Ironically, that would be a real demonstration of #strength.

PS — I have no idea if San Bernardino would ever unite for anything, so there’s that.

Terrorists have France on the ropes

I hope to keep this brief because terror attacks bring me down. I like to keep things light and a little hopeful on this blog. It’s hard to do that after what happened in the last year — in Paris, San Bernardino, Orlando and now back to France in Nice.

Despite reports to the contrary, the terrorists are winning in France.

I’m not here to score political points for a conservative movement. Even if I wanted to, President Obama is out of office in less than a year, anyway, so what’s the point?

Ever since 9/11, we’ve heard a variety of things that we have to do “or the terrorists win.” We have to live our lives or… We have to show Muslims we accept them or… We have to shop in the mall or… We have to fly an American flag attached to the passenger window of our SUV or…

You get the idea.

All of those ideas pale in comparison to one thing: If you concede terrorists cannot be stopped, the terrorists win.

To repeat, I’m not suggesting Obama has waved a white flag.

But these quotes from French politicians sound like a concession speech to me:

“Times have changed and France is going to have to live with terrorism.” — France prime minister Manuel Valls

“The question is, are we able to prevent it? And my answer would be, unfortunately no.” — Nathalie Goulet, head of the France’s Foreign Affairs and Security Committee

Wrong. No, those quotes are worse than wrong. If you allow yourselves to accept terrorism, you lose. It’s just that simple. 

A government that shrugs its shoulders and advises its citizens that it cannot keep them safe is not a just government. More than anything else, that is a fundamental purpose of a government. Consider: a government passes laws, imposes taxes, etc. If terrorists don’t follow these laws and you won’t stop them, then why should I, the private citizen? I have to protect myself.

That is one step closer to anarchy.

If France’s elected leaders cannot say they can keep their citizens safe, France needs a new government.

On the plus side, I think both of our major political candidates get that basic tenet. On Fox News’ “The O’Reilly Factor” on Thursday, presumptive Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton didn’t use talk as tough as her Republican challenger, but one of the main points of her argument was particularly insightful. Host Bill O’Reilly mentioned sending in NATO troops, which splits the burden amongst nations along with the United States.

“Let’s not kid ourselves,” she replied. “If we do that, America will have to lead.”

You’re damn right, Madam Secretary. We will have to lead, because France will not.

Whatever you want to say about Clinton or Donald Trump, I sleep better at night knowing that both of them recognize when other nations accept a new reality of terrorism, we won’t. The United States, for all of its flaws inside its borders, is ready to take command when people outside the borders threaten our way of life.

I don’t claim to know how to defeat terrorism.

But what I do know is accepting it won’t keep us safe.