In an angry speech early Tuesday afternoon, President Obama blasted what he called the “dangerous mindset” of presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump with regard to the threat of terror from radical Islamic groups like ISIS. In the wake of the murder of nearly 50 people in an Orlando nightclub by a man claiming allegiance to that terror group, Obama warned against the temptation to take actions “out of fear” that the nation might later come to regret.
At the time, it’s likely that Obama was completely unaware of comments that one of Trump’s most visible supporters, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, had made on a radio program just hours before, but his remarks could easily have been a direct response to them.
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Christie, as he occasionally does, was sitting in for one of the co-hosts of a daily sports radio talk show when he was asked his opinion on the events in Orlando.
“First off you have to just pray for those victims and their families, because they go out for an evening out and they never think that 50 of them are not coming home,” he said.
“These radical Islamic terrorists are out to kill us,” he continued. “And I think if this country doesn’t get wise to that fact and our leaders don’t get wise to that fact...these people hate us because of who we are, and they’re going to try and kill us, and that’s what this is all about...and we’d better fight back.”
“I was saddened, obviously, and shocked by the events. But I also was really outraged. It’s unacceptable to allow this kind of stuff in our country and for us not to fight back, and we need to fight back, because that’s all these people understand.”
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The US government, of course, is pretty familiar with ISIS and the threat it presents, having spent the last year and more bombing the group and conducting controversial drone strikes aimed at eliminating its leaders, which could reasonably be described as “fighting back.”
However, Christie said that in the wake of Orlando, more is required, and sketched out a vague outline that sounded very much like a call for further military involvement in the region.
“You gotta get over there and start making them pay where they live,” he said. “It’s an ugly and difficult thing but if we don’t get over there, they’re coming here, and they showed it again this weekend.”
It doesn’t require a long historical memory to recall the results of this country’s last several decisions to go to war in the Middle East. Calling for additional military action in response to a single individual’s actions, horrific as they may have been, looks like a clear example of acting out of fear.