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.

“So James, how close do you work to the place that got attacked?”

That close.

To be clear, I don’t work here every day. My employer sends me all over Central Florida. I wasn’t here when Omar Mateen screamed “Allahu akbar” and blasphemed his faith, and I don’t want to make a big political argument about guns or militant Islam.

I just want to keep things simple and tell you what’s been going on it Orlando.

The FBI has left, but the police are keeping the actual plot of land secure and there are still news vans in the area. When the FBI was here, blocks of downtown were locked down. People created their makeshift memorials as close as the authorities would allow — such as this one:

I previously wrote that I had no idea Pulse was an LGBT club, not that it mattered. I have purchased donuts for ungrateful coworkers at the shop next door.

I knew one of the deceased, albeit very little. I knew people who ran when they heard gunfire.

Billboards across the city rotate flashing hashtag affirmations about how strong we are and how we are united and have pride. Maybe we do. We no longer appear to be in shock. Considering much of this area is based on tourism, and therefore weren’t actual Orlando residents, how shocked were we in the first place? The Florida Mall was pretty full the day after the attack.

To be frank, I would prefer #OrlandoSafe to #Orlando(whatever), but I can’t see that happening anytime soon.

I have but one political take to make about Orlando

Technically, one and a half.

Here’s the “half take”: I am remarkably disappointed in how many people immediately sought to politicize this ugly mass murder in Orlando. This includes my friends. I had turned off my cell phone yesterday because I knew I would wait for hours to donate blood. I described the aftermath of the Pulse nightclub attack. The aftermath was a hopeful and as optimistic as the attack was ugly.

Then I turned on my phone, expecting to see a stream of well-wishes on social media. But no. All I read was “ban this” and “bomb that.” Eff liberals. Eff Republicans. Such blind political rage. That’s the difference between 9/11 and Orlando. People couldn’t wait to use this tragedy for political points. Frankly, it makes me ill.

Now, for the one actual opinion with regards to American politics.

Former Army Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf once said something very profound. I don’t recall the exact quote, but the essence was that two valuable traits were to A) precisely define the problem that needs to be solved, but B) don’t exaggerate the problem or downplay it. By being honest with yourself, you open yourself to the possibilities of solving great issues.

As such, President Barack Obama is letting us down because we’re not even allowing ourselves to define the problem.

Yes, it’s fair to debate what weapons can be available in the United States. You want Congress to consider ideas? You want to advance ideas of your own? Go right ahead.

But that’s not the problem. It is a problem.

Radical Islamic terrorism is the problem. The more Obama skirts the issue and tries to reframe it, the more it appears he has his head in the sand.

Obama doesn’t have to threaten war. Recall the Schwarzkopf statement. To threaten war is an exaggeration. One could easily argue President George W. Bush defined the problem and exaggerated the solution with the invasion of Iraq.

Some say that the mere mention of “radical jihad” or “Islamic terrorism” will increase attacks. Considering I’ve lived in two American cities that were attacked in the last 8-9 months, that’s folly. We are being attacked no matter what we say, no matter what we offer in goodwill. Because people such as ISIS have no good will in them.

Tomorrow, I’ll be changing topics. I’m sick of talking politics here. That wasn’t the purpose of this site.