Notes: Mosque Visits; PTSD Empathy; Defending Capitalism



Notes are part of changes to Jumbo Tale – weekly short thoughts on the news.  Hope to have the new site up within the month.

Mosque Visit

President Obama visited a mosque this week. I gave up on the President’s rhetoric rallying the country about a week after the bin Laden killing. His address in the mosque was refreshingly balanced between tolerance and responsibility.

Nevertheless, I agree with Marco Rubio’s post visit observation generally about the President and I would include CAIR (Council on American Islamic Relations):

Look at today – he gave a speech at a mosque,” Rubio continued. “Oh, you know, basically implying that America is discriminating against Muslims. Of course there’s going to be discrimination in America of every kind. But the bigger issue is radical Islam. And by the way, radical Islam poses a threat to Muslims themselves.”

“But again, it’s this constant pitting people against each other — that I can’t stand that. It’s hurting our country badly,”

There are still more hate crimes against Jews than Muslims in America.  Nowhere on the Statute of Liberty does it say America is offering an easy path free of discrimination.

 The President and CAIR would do better to distribute stories of decorated American Muslim servicemen and women (a growing number), stories of local groups reporting plots, while enforcing in court not the press their legal rights.  And I would suggest wrapping those steps in a theme on how lucky all immigrants, including Muslims, are to be citizens or residents of the US.

PTSD Empathy

Some of the worst conversations of 2015 for me occurred after the American Sniper premiere. Quite a few progressives slammed Chris Kyle for his tall tales about acting as a sniper on the Superdome during Hurricane Katrina and killing would be robbers at a gas station back in Texas.  None of the folks I confronted would acknowledge that Kyle’s PTSD was a legitimate explanation or even theory.

To some Kyle was a liar, a killer, a racist, and a proxy for conservatives.

It has been my honor to know several combat veterans.  Whether it was the combat fatigue of World War II, the unique issues of Korea and Vietnam, or  Iraq and Afghanistan PTSD they all suffered in the civilian world. That suffering manifested itself in nightmares, withdrawal, obsessive and compulsive behaviors, alcoholism, suicide, and mental illness.

Kyle’s tall tales hurt no one.  My belief is they were a result of his desire to be back in combat and were part of a fantasy return.  One vet told me last year that his desire to go back to Iraq as a contractor became so overwhelming that his wife forced him to go to the VA.  PTSD causes vets to act in ways almost incomprehensible to civilians.  Why would anyone want to return to Baghdad to fight?

Kyle’s suffering is a chance for empathy, not judgement.

I Like Capitalism

Bernie Sanders believes US capitalism is evil.  The effect is to pull Mrs. Clinton to his position even though she obviously does not believe it.  US capitalism is the key to our world position, the reduction in poverty across the globe, and reached its responsible height under President Clinton.

I wish Mrs. Clinton would stare down Senator Sanders and say the obvious:

“My husband’s terms expanded protection for the poor of all colors, grew the middle class, reached a balance budget, and drove economic prosperity broadly throughout America. Your policies failed in post-War Britain and have left Europe a slow growth basket case.  We’re moving forward to return America to prosperity.”

It is not just that Senator Sanders is unrealistic, it is he is wrong.


  1. I agree with your points John but I think attitudes you see regarding PTSD probably go along with those that stigmatize other types of mental illness. As a culture we need to encourage people to address their mental issues without denigrating them for weakness or fantasy. This intertwines with so many other issues confronting out society: drug abuse, violence, suicide, etc.

  2. Just catching up on my JumboTale. I believe Obama’s visit to the mosque and the content of his speech were part of a strategy to counter the ISIS narrative that the US is at war with Islam. We may find that message is not credible but among Muslims outside the US it has great merit and some of our political rhetoric just feeds it. I took Obama’s point to be: We should avoid doing and saying things that both help our enemies and alienate those who could be our most effective allies.” While I certainly agree that anti-Jewish hate cries in the US far exceed anti-Muslim, (A) extremist Jews aren’t targeting the US, and (B) prominent politicians are not making anti-Semetic comments to cheering crowds. One has to wonder how many westerners the extremists must kill before we appreciate that our rhetoric and actions (and fear and ignorance) are bringing aid and comfort to our enemies. I applaud Obama for doing what he can to counter it.

    know from my own interactions with American Muslims they do feel unfairly targeted and

    • As a 1%er, I like capitalism too but Sanders’ points are not all to be dismissed. The decline of the Middle Class wealth is real and has a delaterious effect on the economy and quality of life of the majority of Americans. The Clinton years did not stop the slide. “Trickle down” is completely discredited. And we need look back only 120 years to see the result of unbridled capitalism. The tremendous support for Sanders is a big clue that we ignore these issues at our peril.

      • Vince, the Clinton years and the GW Bush years did halt the slide in poor income dramatically. The lowest group in poverty (the hardest to help) had their incomes grow 13% in the Clinton years. This is a pretty good piece on income inequality – Bernie’s message does not seem to be resonating beyond very liberal white democrats and the young (who are supposed to toy w/ socialism in normal times). The African American community is rejecting it and so far at least its not working broadly in the Hispanic community. That to me is interesting. I think the thing that may come out of the election is that people of color are done kow-towing to white liberals – the Congressional Black Caucus I thought was really interesting in their endorsement. Essentially, we’re tired of you white liberals with your pie in the sky promises with no way to pay for them. I don’t know what “trickle down” means, but if you mean there is an economic model where the poor rise without the rich and middle class rising I just don’t know what that model is. The bottom line is we need to get back to having 4%+ growth in good years and modest downturns in recessions. That’s the Clinton legacy. I do get really irritated with people who keep citing the ’50s and 60s. Sure we grew widely and greatly – the entire industrial world was prostrate at our feet after a World War. That is not a condition we are going to see again or should want to see again. We’re back at the historic baseline for the US – the trick is to get back to Clinton’s moderate bipartisan economic policies and innovation based on them, not socialism or Trumpism. That’s how you help the poor.

    • Vince, I just have not seen any evidence that Muslims abroad would be more likely to help us if we somehow said or did something different. After Trump’s stupidity every news source tried to find the evidence and failed. The radicals abroad hate us for who we are not we say about them. My biggest problem, particularly with CAIR, is unlike my immigrant mother who begins every sentence about America with how lucky she was. And she has plenty of stories about being bullied for her accent, her clothes, etc. But her reaction was to try harder to be an American, to assimilate as a duty, and to love and help her country. That in my view is how American Muslims will counter the discrimination that they face here and throughout the West. This insipid press conferences where people scream about discrimination without the validity of a jury verdict or an EEOC finding and paint all Republicans, or all blue collar, or all Americans as prejudiced against Muslims is just going to yield more resentment and more discrimination. And it makes it harder for the rest of us to speak out against that discrimination when it does occur, which I agree it does.


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