Politics & Policy

Gingrich’s Overreaction

(Gage Skidmore/Flickr)
He proposes that the U.S. ‘test every person here who is of a Muslim background.’

So Trump picks Pence. It’s a good fit for Trump: an establishment conservative, well connected to the donor and the D.C. class, and a man full of the genial Midwestern virtues that ensure he’s not going to upstage or out-Trump him.

Trump was going to make the announcement on Saturday, out of respect for the victims of the terrorist attack in Nice, France, but watching Newt Gingrich’s latest audition undoubtedly made somebody in the campaign decide that now was a good time to make it clear that Newt is not Trump’s running mate.

The thing about terrorists is they make people afraid. And fear makes people do and say dumb things. That’s the best excuse I can make for Newt Gingrich, whose response to the terror attack in Nice was truly horrifying: “Western civilization is in a war,” Gingrich told Fox News’ Sean Hannity. “We should, frankly, test every person here who is of a Muslim background, and if they believe in sharia, they should be deported.”

The feds’ questioning people “of a Muslim background” (whatever that means) and deporting them if they have views the government disagrees with? That’s pretty much the definition of a police state, not the United States of America, Newt.

The thing about terrorists is they make people afraid. And fear makes people do and say dumb things.

Gingrich tweets that he’s appalled by the media’s overreaction to his remarks. And tune in for his live seminar on sharia! This is why he has so many more Twitter followers than I do. Saying outrageous things works.

The trouble with the war on terrorism, as the horrific events in Nice demonstrated, is that it cannot be won. Disturbed dudes with trucks are always going to be with us.

Terrorizing my fellow Americans who are law-abiding Muslims by suggesting they all be questioned about their faith by the police, under penalty of deportation, is not exactly helpful here. We’ve come a long way from “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall,” baby, and it’s not exactly pretty.

Government powers grow during wartime, which is why we should stop pretending we are in a war with terrorism. Go to Syria if you want to know what war looks like. Or watch an old World War II movie, for goodness’ sake. What we have is not a war but a crime spree enabled by social media. The single most helpful thing we could do — which we won’t do — is to stop putting the photo of these killer-suicides on national television. The attention we pay motivates more disturbed dudes.

#related#“Sharia is incompatible with Western civilization,” Gingrich said. “Modern Muslims who have given up sharia — glad to have them as citizens. Perfectly happy to have them next door.” Gee whiz, not sure they are going to be happy to be there next to you.

Gingrich also said that the attack in Nice is the “fault of Western elites who lack the guts to do what is right, to do what is necessary.” But what Gingrich proposes doing is neither right nor necessary. It’s not even constitutional.

I don’t know what civilization Gingrich thinks he is defending but it bears scant resemblance to the American constitutional republic I revere. The clash of civilizations is taking place in every human heart, and on this day, in your heart, Mr. Speaker, civilization lost.

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