Stop Calling Obama a Murderer | VALID | #TWIBnation

Stop Calling Obama a Murderer

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The problem with extremist rhetoric is that it distracts from substantive issues the public should be debating. When folks on the left or the right make outrageous, offensive comments about their political opponents, the debate turns from policy to personalities very quickly, and along the way important issues get pushed aside. Worse, there are always crazy people out there who will take extremist rhetoric to heart and act on it, often with dire consequences.

For as long as I can remember, abortion opponents have characterized the procedure as “murder,” even though very few of them advocate the typical criminal penalties you’d associate with murder–e.g., the death penalty, or life in prison without the possibility of parole — for doctors who perform abortions or women who get them. Unfortunately, though, men like Eric Rudolph and Scott Roeder take that rhetoric quite literally, and people die as a result. Likewise, conservatives accused Bill Clinton of being a war criminal, a rapist, and, yes, a murderer (see Foster, Vince), when in reality they just disliked his policies and thought he was a boor. As to the latter point, they may have been correct, but don’t forget that the Oklahoma City bombing was inspired by right-wing extremism.

Meanwhile, Pres. Obama is reputed to be the most threatened president in U.S. history. During his term in office, we’ve seen increasingly extreme rhetoric, especially from the right, and it’s clearly having an effect on the voting public. Sahil Kapur at Talking Points Memo recently wrote:

Three in 10 registered American voters believe an armed rebellion might be necessary in the next few years, according to the results of a staggering poll released Wednesday by Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind.

The survey, aimed at measuring public attitudes toward gun issues, found that 29 percent of Americans agree with the statement, “In the next few years, an armed revolution might be necessary in order to protect our liberties.” An additional five percent were unsure.

Eighteen percent of Democrats said an armed revolt “might be necessary,” as compared to 27 percent of independents and 44 percent of Republicans. Support levels were similar among males and females but higher among less educated voters.

Forty-four percent of Republican respondents — nearly half — bought into the ultimate extremist sentiment: that things were so bad (implicitly, because Obama!), they may need to take up arms against the government. As stunning as that number is, it’s also pretty alarming that eighteen percent–nearly one-fifth–of Democratic voters felt the same way. So, yes, we have some extremists on our side, too.

Not every person on the far left advocates political violence, of course, but you don’t have to look very hard to find liberals casualy tossing out an incendiary phrase or two. Case in point: A longtime social media acquaintance posted a cartoon showing a future children-of-mass-murderers support group. In the first panel, the son of the Ft. Hood shooter and the daughter of Tamerlan Tsarnaev were commiserating about their fate. In the second panel, who should walk in but … Malia Obama. The obvious point being, Pres. Obama’s a mass murderer!

Smack. My. Damn. Head.

For the record, I’ve said repeatedly that I’m unalterably opposed to the so-called “war on terror” and that the president is wrong to continue to prosecute it, let alone expand it beyond Afghanistan and into countries like Pakistan and Yemen. Although I find the left’s obsession with particular military hardware (Egad, drones!) to be somewhat bizarre, my position is and always has been: End the war yesterday. So, I have some sympathy for those on the left who criticize the president’s war strategy.

But every bad policy decision isn’t the equivalent of murder, even if it results in death. I know that’s a challenging concept, but it’s true. The president believes, in good faith, that in order to protect the country from terrorist attacks he needs to use military force to “defeat” terrorist groups. I disagree. In fact, I disagree vehemently. But he inherited an incredibly complex situation from his predecessor, who had pursued not one but two ill-advised wars and in so doing generated perhaps even greater hostility towards America than existed prior to September 11, 2001.

As for the war in Afghanistan itself, that was an accomplished fact before Pres. Obama took office. While I personally believe he should have gotten us out of that fiasco with the same deliberate speed with which he got us out of Iraq, that was hardly an easy decision to make. No matter what route he chose there, the people of Afghanistan were likely to continue to suffer, either from American military activity or insurgent attacks. There was no simple solution, and while I disagree with the strategy Pres. Obama pursued, I can say this with absolute certainty: I sure am glad that burden never rested on my shoulders.

As far as the president’s decision to expand the war beyond Afghanistan, I acknowledge that that’s more problematic. As I’ve written before, the very idea of an open-ended, borderless war against shadowy organizations loosely affiliated with one another pushes at the very limits of, and likely breaks, recognized laws of warfare. So, again, the right thing to do is to bring the war, however it’s defined and wherever it’s being waged, to a prompt conclusion. Nonetheless, I believe the president is wrestling with a difficult set of problems that are not of his choosing: Al Qaeda and its affiliates are illegal paramilitary organizations that likewise violate the laws of warfare–by intentionally targeting civilians; by refusing to identify themselves as a military force through the use of recognizable uniforms, ranks, insignia, and flags; by hiding amongst civilians and carrying out operations from within civilian populations centers, thereby exposing those civilians to unnecessary harm; and by waging war all over the globe, without any conceivable legal justification.

Obviously, the fact that terrorist organizations violate the laws of warfare in no way justifies our violation of those same laws, but it’s simply not accurate to suggest that the president is acting maliciously or is purposefully targeting innocent people. So as much as I believe he’s wrong on the war on terror and he should end it promptly, I abhor the use of extremist language by his liberal critics, too. The president is not a murderer, and to characterize his mistaken policies as such does nothing to further honest debate on the subject.

If we can get past lobbing rhetorical bombs and engaging in personal attacks, we might be able to get to the heart of the matter, which is this: How should the United States deal with the threat of international terrorism? I believe the answer to that question will almost never involve the use of military force, but we need to do more than identify the things we shouldn’t do. That’s the part of the discussion that gets buried in hyperbole when the president’s critics turn every policy debate into accusations of murder, fascism, tyranny, socialism, communism, Maoism, Nazism, and on and on and on. . . .

[Photo: Pete Souza, White House]

David Von Ebers

An evil trial lawyer from Chicago, which makes me almost as bad as Barack Obama himself. Except, I am a Cubs fan, unlike our President, and so, as the kids say, I AM SHAME. I blog about legal issues, politics, sports, music (that long-haired rock 'n roll music all the kids are into), and, frequently, the interaction between any and all of the above. When I'm not busy undermining the Constitution or circumventing your freedoms, I run, watch too much sports on the teevee, and hang out with my long-suffering wife and three kids.

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  1. vocqueen May 5, 2013 at 3:46 am

    But he’s a blah person, so murder must be in his blood, right?

    Kidding aside, good piece, David. I don’t always agree with Obama either, but calling him a murderer is beyond absurd.

  2. Arrogant Demon May 6, 2013 at 7:38 pm

    Because its never about nuiance, but more so hyperbole to get people riled with the most basic, bare bones argument without and sort of nuinace, just black & white, ignoring all the sahdes of gray in between, caus that just complicates & muddies the point you want to make.

    If we call Barack Obama a murderer, how is he any different from FDR & Churchill who carpet bombed Dresden, and speaking of Churchill, who was on the verge of cracking the Enigma code, let Coventry get bombed so the Germans didnt figure out they cracked it. Lincoln caused the deaths of 600,000 men, is he a murderer? Eishenhower lead men to their deaths, but you know, lets make it simple, no need to pat attention to all that gray.

  3. DrinkYourKoolaid May 22, 2013 at 4:09 pm

    The Tyrant living in the White House is not a murderer.
    He just happens to be the CLOWN who was elected into office on the HOPE that CHANGE was good for this country. In the event that you have your head up your A_SS he just happens to be the PRESIDENT who should be watching over EVERY ROGUE DEPT he has created. In case you have your head up your A_SS he has botched EVERYTHING he has gotten involved with. In fact now he just let’s every dept do whatever the H they want. Unless you have your head up your A_SS he allowed 4 TAX PAYING CITIZENS who HAD JOBS and were complete CONTRIBUTORS (NOT lazy illegals or lazy Americans who have forgotten what it’s like to WORK and be A CONTRIBUTOR)who were in that SH_THOLE BENGHAZI,SYRIA and were MURDERED. MURDERED ON HIS WATCH with Hag HILLARY being in charge as Secratary of State. CLOWN Obama is not a murderer but HE IS RESPONSIBLE for ALLOWING Hag Hillary to sleep at the switch while 4 Americans WERE BEING SLAUGHTERED that day which in the event you have your head up your A_SS was Sept 11, 2012. You would think that whenever 9/11 comes up EVERY YEAR you would look after the people you send to TOILET COUNTRIES to correct the ugly mess you made by selling OUR weapons to Al Qaeda and why it happened in the first place.
    I realize it’s your job to defend the Afro-American as president but The Afro-American culture in this country has it’s hands full with the many, many problems YOU refuse to deal with like educating young men on the subjects of morality and responsibility to not only himself but his surrounding community. OH Wait!! The new Jay Z disk drops tomorrow and THAT in itself is far more important than teaching the young Afro-American right from wrong. GET A CLUE and HELP YOUR YOUNG instead of turning your back on them. YOU ARE RIGHT. Obama isn’t a MURDERER. Without ACCOUNTABILITY you can’t hold ANYONE RESPONSIBLE. IT’S NOTHING BUT LIES and DECEIT from this administration. It amazes me HOW STUPID AMERICA IS to let this JOKER in the White House roll for a 2nd term and MISMANAGE EVERY DEPT UNDER HIM as President. How’s that for HOPE & CHANGE. Just wait until his Obamacare kicks in in 2014 and someone in your family needs serious medical attention. You’ll all be singing a different tune when he sticks his knife in your back. Nobody will admit it now but you & I have a painful future thanks to the JOKER in the White House who just happens to be Obama.

  4. John June 17, 2013 at 3:12 pm

    Good article although it fails to recognize the terrorist nature of US administrations.

  5. Gary Anderson June 18, 2013 at 4:03 am

    It’s interesting that many people give a pass or make excuses for things that should never be excused. I voted for President Obama in 2008, and did not vote for him in 2012.

    I’m very disappointed in how things have gone, how he’s blatantly gone back on so many things he campaigned on, and how he’s made a mockery of things that he once proclaimed to be important to him when he was running for President.

    I don’t expect Presidents or politicians in general to stick to every single thing they said when they ran, because often they get into the office and find things are much more difficult then they perceived them to be.

    That said, I have a simple rule: If I was against a Republican President doing something, I’m ALSO against a President from the Democratic party as well who does that thing.

    The fact that it’s so easy to dismiss the things like signature drone strikes where they just wantonly kill people and make up designations for them to claim they were enemy combatants (saying any one of military age is automatically a combatant) or the double taps, is beyond reprehensible and, in my opinion, renders whatever else you have to say after that completely null and void.

    Too many people excuse things that are done when it’s their party in office. I can’t do that and will never do that. My loyalty is not to a political party or to a candidate. If I vote for someone and they go back on what they said on so many important issues, then they don’t deserve my or your loyalty.

    Because they are not being loyal to you or me.

    Just my thoughts on it is all.

  6. Felway August 5, 2013 at 3:52 am

    How is it not murder for the US to use drones to *repeatedly* kill innocent civilians who were: (a) not terrorists, (b) not proximate to any terrorist threat at the time of their death (so you cannot argue “collateral damage”), (c) were peacefully living their lives?

    The author of this article sadly is away with the fairies. I am reading report after report of women and children in Pakistan being vaporised by US drone attacks? Their crime? They were congregating outside their own homes and this looked suspicious to the drone pilots.

    That’s a very low threshold for killing someone. In fact, it borders precariously close to random killing. So yes, it is murder. To compare the drone attacks to Dresden is makes so sense, as WWII was fought between state entities and the Allies wanted to destroy the will of the German people to fight.

    If a member of your family was killed by a drone in Pakistan you’d think differently. Unfortunately the author and a lot of the commentators make the same mistake a lot of people make through out human history: as long as no one I personally care about is being killed, then it’s not my problem and we can have a pseudo-intellectual debate about the abstract difference of killing vs murder.

    Innocent civilians are being killed. It is happening repeatedly. The killing is not based upon any kind of evidence of a threat or legal oversight. Thus unaccountable taking of civilian life is not right. That’s called murder. If Pakistan launched drone attacks on American soil, all the apologists on this page would call it murder and I doubt there even be concern for the reasons behind the killing.

    The shoe is on the other foot people.

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