Magazine | August 26, 2019, Issue

The Week

(Roman Genn)

• Bill de Blasio has spent so much time in Iowa that when he gets back home, he’ll complain about the prices.

• And the deadly beat goes on. In the immediate aftermath of the El Paso shooting (see editorial), a gunman killed nine people and wounded 27 in front of a bar in downtown Dayton, Ohio. Alert and courageous action by police patrolling in the vicinity brought the gunman down less than a minute after he started firing. His Twitter account records that he was a left-winger and avowed Satanist, which, of course, didn’t prompt the same finger-pointing by the media that would have occurred had he been a right-wing Christian. More important, he was clearly deranged. He described delusions he experienced to friends and frightened people around him. One day during high school, many of his fellow students didn’t show up at school for fear he’d carry out a shooting. One of his victims outside the bar was his own sister. His atrocity is more evidence of the need for so-called red-flag laws — now endorsed by President Trump — to keep guns out of the hands of disturbed and potentially dangerous people.

• We never cease to be astounded by the selfless courage of ordinary Americans. Private First Class Glendon Oakley Jr. is the latest example. He carried as many children as he could out of danger in the El Paso massacre. Oakley, just 22 years old, is an American success story: Growing up in a rough neighborhood, he was often in and out of jail for minor marijuana charges and fights, but his life changed after a military recruiter took a chance on him and, despite his background, fought for him to enlist in the Army. He had just returned from a deployment in Kuwait when the mass shooting occurred. Suffice it to say, the Army’s gamble on him was a good one.

• During the Ford administration, Don Penny, a Hollywood comic, was brought into the White House communications office to improve the president’s wooden delivery. After one trying session, Penny said, “Mr. President, these are words. They mean something.” That was a joke meant to cure Gerald Ford’s inarticulacy. It bears repeating, to cure Donald Trump’s rhetorical recklessness. In his latest drama-inducing Twitter riff, the president said that the district of Representative Elijah Cummings, the Maryland Democrat, was a “filthy place,” a “disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess” where “no human being would want to live.” Of course, human beings do live there, and the president is responsible for the whole of the United States, not just the parts he likes. It is certainly true that most big cities, including Baltimore, which Cummings represents about half of, have been badly governed for a long time, mainly by Democrats. There is a way to have this kind of discussion — and many others — more responsibly, respectfully, and usefully, but it would require the president to pay much greater heed to the value of his own words.

• The second round of Democratic presidential debates followed a well-established rhythm for such encounters, in which expectations are scrambled, and then scrambled again. So Joe Biden, the anointed front-runner, after stumbling in his first outing, recovered by avoiding any new disasters, and even helped himself in a potential general election by insisting that crossing the border illegally is indeed a crime (“It is illegal to do it unless they’re seeking asylum. People should have to get in line”). In mirror image, Kamala Harris, who worsted Biden in the first round, was assailed by Tulsi Gabbard on her record as California attorney general, locking up marijuana offenders and defending the cash-bail system, which critics say is hard on the poor. A typical record, it must be said, for a state AG; surely Harris’s rivals were bound to notice. On to the next round of debates, and expectations.

• Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang should qualify for the next round. Yang is good-natured, a successful entrepreneur, and a refreshing presence on the stage. He is also the architect of a proposal to give every American $1,000 per month, an allegedly necessary way to blunt the impact automation will have on our labor market. Yang isn’t the first presidential candidate to overstate the risks of automation, but he is the first to make a universal basic income the centerpiece of his campaign. Aside from being prohibitively expensive, Yang’s proposal would worsen the decline in work (see Matthew Continetti, “Idleness Is Lonely,” August 12), could pour kerosene onto our simmering immigration politics, and would accelerate the welfare state’s distortion of the relationship between citizen and government. Single-issue candidates tend to be amusing but batty, and Yang is no exception.

• Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee executive director Allison Jaslow has resigned in scandal amid growing concerns about her melanin level. The former director fell victim to the diversity hyenas in her party, who, according to the DCCC’s chairwoman, Representative Cheri Bustos (D., Ill.), felt that Jaslow did not adequately represent “the diversity of our Democratic caucus and our party.” Two Democratic representatives from Texas insist that the only way for Bustos “to promote diversity is to appoint a qualified person of color, of which there are many, as executive director at once.” No word yet on whether the new hire is permitted to be cis-gendered.

• Dan Coats resigned as director of national intelligence. Coats had compiled a long and distinguished record before Donald Trump appointed him to the post at the beginning of his term, but his refusal to budge from two intelligence-community assessments — that Russia interfered in the 2016 election and that North Korea was “unlikely” to give up its nuclear weapons — annoyed his boss, who found them politically inconvenient. Trump had intended to appoint Congressman John Ratcliffe (R., Texas) as Coats’s replacement but withdrew the nomination when it became clear that Ratcliffe’s résumé was weak and his support from Senate Republicans even weaker. The post deserves someone of stature, and independence of mind.

• At a time when the gun issue is especially fraught, the upper echelons of the National Rifle Association have descended into chaos and accusations of financial impropriety. The organization has broken with its longtime PR firm Ackerman McQueen and cut ties with famed lobbyist Chris Cox. NRATV has been shut down. Most recently, three board members resigned, saying they had lost committee assignments after raising questions about spending by Wayne LaPierre, the NRA’s CEO and one of the few major figures to remain with the group. Ideally, this fiasco would make the NRA stronger: The group could emerge with better financial practices and a stronger focus on gun rights, abandoning its recent obsession with unrelated culture-war battles. The group’s membership and what remains of its leadership should push unrelentingly in that direction.

• A panel of federal judges on the Tenth Circuit have permanently dismissed all 83 ethics complaints that were filed against Justice Brett Kavanaugh around the time of his contentious confirmation hearing last fall. The complaints were dismissed because of procedural flaws — a Supreme Court justice cannot be held liable by a lower court for ethics violations — rather than a lack of merit, a point that will no doubt be emphasized in our media. Still, most of them were little more than rank partisan attempts by left-wing activists to take down a right-of-center justice whose appointment threatened to give the Supreme Court a conservative majority for the foreseeable future. Their dismissal is the last nail in the coffin of the campaign of character assassination against Kavanaugh.

• Richard Nixon taped a lot of conversations, including one with Governor Ronald Reagan in 1971. This tape has just been released. Reagan called Nixon to decry the U.N. vote recognizing Communist China over Taiwan. He had particular words for African delegates to the U.N.: “To see those, those monkeys from those African countries — damn them, they’re still uncomfortable wearing shoes!” Some of those who knew Reagan well were not only surprised but shocked and sickened when they heard the tape. These include his daughter Patti Davis and his biographer Lou Cannon. Reagan lived a long and consequential life, from 1911 to 2004. He said (and did) a million things; his crack to Nixon was not a proud moment; it was an ugly moment. Better was a letter he wrote to a Mississippian, Freddie Washington, in 1983. Reagan was in his third year as president. “I’ve been frustrated and angered by the attempts to paint me as a racist,” he said. “I was raised by a mother and father who instilled in me and my brother a hatred for bigotry and prejudice, long before there was such a thing as a civil rights movement.” Let the totality of the man’s life be remembered (as with all of our lives). It was an exemplary one.

• Republican senator Josh Hawley is crusading against Big Tech. In two separate bills, he’s attempting to both micromanage political speech on social media (by requiring a government commission to certify the host company’s neutrality) and micromanage the user interface itself. His newly proposed “SMART Act” would ban customary Internet features such as “infinite scroll” (which allows you to thumb rapidly through a Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter feed), the “autoplay” of a new video after the user finishes the one initially selected (on sites including YouTube — but not on the ultimate autoplay device in American homes, your television), and certain gaming features on social-media apps, such as Snapchat’s “streaks” (which record how many consecutive days you’ve communicated with friends). Hawley’s bill responds to a social challenge with a blunt instrument that would hurt responsible users of popular applications — which is to say, the overwhelming majority of users — and he has not provided any concrete evidence that it would cure the extraordinarily complicated underlying problem: the rise of anxiety, depression, and polarization that correlates with the rise of social media and the smartphone but is caused by a multiplicity of factors. Facebook isn’t heroin, and free people should not demand that the government spring to their aid when they refuse to exercise the basic personal remedy of putting down their phone or deleting an app.

• President Trump announced a new round of tariffs on $300 billion worth of Chinese goods. This new levy, a 10 percent tax, comes on top of a 25 percent tariff that the White House imposed on $250 billion worth of goods in June. The president has demanded that China stop stealing intellectual property and purchase more U.S. agricultural goods, but Beijing backed off an initial agreement to settle the dispute. China has responded to the latest tariffs by allowing the yuan to devalue, in an effort to boost exports. The Treasury Department labeled it a currency manipulator, suggesting a new low in relations between the two countries. Investors were spooked, with Wall Street registering its worst trading days of the year. China should be pressured to change its ways. But Trump may be learning that, like health care, trade wars are more complicated than he first thought.

• Citing trade tensions, sluggish inflation, and a slowdown in business investment, the Federal Reserve cut the benchmark interest rate by a quarter of a percentage point. The first rate cut in eleven years comes as global growth decelerates and markets grow more jittery. Will there be more? The president hopes so, and publicly demanded that Fed chairman Jay Powell continue cutting rates to “keep pace with China” and the EU. Powell implicitly responded at a press conference, saying the bank does not “take into account political considerations,” a principle endorsed by his four predecessors in a joint opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal. Trump might think the markets want more rate cuts, and he might be right. But they surely don’t want to see the president dictating the central bank’s decisions.

• Puerto Rico’s politics now looks as if it were the work of the chupacabra. Governor Ricardo Rosselló resigned in the face of popular outrage over corruption and the leak of a conference call between him and advisers that mocked victims of Hurricane Maria. Secretary of State Pedro Pierluisi succeeded Rosselló, despite having been appointed secretary of state only days earlier. The senate, which had not yet confirmed Pierluisi, sued in Puerto Rico’s supreme court to block his accession. Rivera Sanchez, senate president, wants to run for governor next year. Pierluisi is unpopular because of his connections to the federally mandated control board that oversees the island’s finances. Congress created the board to restructure Puerto Rico’s debt — a cool $70 billion. What is the ultimate solution? Statehood? Independence? Muddling along? Hell if we know, and no one else does either.

• The Trump administration reached a deal with Guatemala, which says it will require asylum seekers who go through it to seek refuge there rather than in the U.S. Asylum seekers who reach America will be sent back. In return, we will allow more Guatemalans to come here as temporary workers. Whether the deal eases the pressure on our southern border will depend on the answer to several questions: Will the Guatemalan legislature ratify the deal? Will its next president go along with it? Is its government capable of implementing it? Another question worth answering: Will we enforce the law on temporary workers who stay past their terms? The administration’s goal, though, is sound: that asylum be reserved for people who truly need to flee their homes to find a refuge from persecution.

• North Korea continues to test short-range missiles, in violation of U.N. resolutions. President Trump says he is unconcerned. These are “very standard missiles,” he says. Others say that this is not so — that the missiles represent an important advance for North Korea and could evade U.S. defenses. In any case, the missile tests rattle our allies South Korea and Japan, which need all the reassurance they can get. On Twitter, Trump wrote, “Chairman Kim has a great and beautiful vision for his country, and only the United States, with me as President, can make that vision come true.” In reality, unfortunately, Kim’s vision is the continuation of his family’s rule over the most oppressed and pulverized people on earth.

• Donald Trump has announced that he will withdraw the United States from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, a Cold War–era accord negotiated by Ronald Reagan that represented an arms-control milestone. Russia, however, has been in years-long breach of the treaty, developing a ground-launched cruise missile in explicit defiance of its terms. The United States was right to renounce its obligation. It makes no sense to be the only party in compliance with a two-party treaty. The administration says it wants to explore new arms-control initiatives with Russia, but sensibly wants any talks to include China, which has been adding intermediate-range systems — and missiles and launchers of all sorts — at an alarming clip. More likely is that we will end up deploying intermediate-range missiles in Asia to check the Chinese threat, now that we are out from under the dated INF.

• Barack Obama’s Iran deal undid the tough sanctions regime that the U.S. had imposed on Iran. The Trump administration has rightfully reimposed many of these sanctions in the wake of our withdrawal from the deal. But its recent decision to preserve one set of waivers for 90 days and allow European, Chinese, and Russian companies to continue to work on projects at Iranian nuclear facilities is a mistake, especially coming on the heels of Iran’s ramping up its uranium-enrichment levels. The administration has generally followed the sound principle that Iranian misbehavior merits no reward. Ninety days from now, it should rediscover it.

• Mass demonstrations in Hong Kong continued into their ninth week, sparked initially by a proposed law allowing the extradition of alleged criminals to China proper. Protesters have called for a general strike, blocked public transportation, and vandalized symbols of the pro-Beijing government’s authority, including police stations. They have been tear-gassed by police and attacked by anonymous thugs wielding rods. Can they leverage Hong Kong’s visibility and its economic importance to secure a measure of moderation from their Communist masters, without provoking a Tiananmen Square–style crackdown? As a political high-wire act, this is like crossing a tightrope on a motorcycle. Meanwhile, President Trump has been hands-off. “Hong Kong is a part of China,” he said. “They’ll have to deal with that themselves. They don’t need advice.” Actually, they do — to wit, don’t, once again, crush dissent from your dictatorial regime.

• The videos from the streets of Moscow were ghastly: police pounding democracy protesters mercilessly, breaking their bones. More than 800 were arrested. The opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, was jailed and possibly poisoned. As of this writing, his condition is unknown. What is certainly known is that Putin & Co. are brazen poisoners. A democracy activist, Yelena Grigoryeva, was found strangled to death in St. Petersburg. If Vladimir Putin is as popular as his defenders maintain, why won’t he allow free elections and freedom of the press? Why does he feel the need to jail, maim, or kill his critics? In any event, the people on the streets of Moscow, like the people on the streets of Hong Kong, are very brave, and we bow in admiration to them.

• India and Pakistan have already fought three wars over Kashmir and a fourth may well be in prospect. The division between the two powers of this Muslim-majority region involves history, religion, nationalism, culture, imperialism, and broken promises. In other words, here is one of the world’s most intractable disputes. Earlier this year, Indian aircraft penetrated Pakistani air space, and two were shot down. Angry words gave rise to angry deeds. Narendra Modi, reelected prime minister of India in a landslide in May, seems to have decided that the time has come to fulfill a political objective and absorb the Indian-controlled part of Kashmir. Thirty-five thousand extra troops have been deployed there, schools have been closed, a curfew imposed, and two former Kashmir ministers, both Muslims, are said to have been detained. Replacing the semi-autonomous status of the past, Indian-controlled Kashmir will become an integral part of India. Demonstrators in Pakistani cities and in Pakistani-controlled Kashmir are protesting against what they see as a land grab. In the corridors of power, everyone is glumly aware that both parties in the confrontation have nuclear weapons.

• Meanwhile, some good news from India: Prime Minister Modi has released his nation’s tiger count for 2018, showing that the population now stands at roughly 3,000. It is a remarkable rebound for a population that had dwindled to 1,400 15 years ago. In fact, the growth surpasses India’s goal of doubling the number of tigers in the country by 2022, testifying to the effectiveness of its conservation efforts: setting aside tiger sanctuaries in national parks and making it a crime to kill them. Growing tiger populations are also good for other inhabitants of India’s wild spaces. As large, mammalian apex predators, they perform a variety of functions in the ecosystem, from keeping prey populations low to shaping the physical landscape. Trouble still looms on the horizon, however: Shrinking forests and a growing population will increasingly bring humans and tigers into contact, and conflict, with each other.

• In Britain, the Liberal Democrats won a Welsh by-election and, in doing so, have reduced the Conservative government’s parliamentary majority to one. The Tories previously held the seat at Brecon and Radnorshire, but a vote was scheduled after a Conservative MP, Chris Davies, was found guilty of submitting a false expense claim. Davies, who oddly was allowed to stand again, was defeated by Jane Dodds, who, upon winning, said: “My very first act as your new MP when I get to Westminster will be to find Mr. Boris Johnson, wherever he is hiding, and tell him to stop playing with the future of our community and rule out a no-deal Brexit.” The Liberal Democrats have become a Remain force to be reckoned with. Johnson’s majority in the Commons now hangs by a thread, which makes it even harder for him to deliver Brexit by the October 31st deadline, and more likely that the United Kingdom is headed toward an early general election.

• The rapper A$AP Rocky was released from a Swedish jail after President Trump, at the urging of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, went to Twitter to call for his release. Rocky was accused of assaulting a migrant, who the rapper alleges harassed him and his security team; the Swedish Left was incensed by the decision to release Rocky at Trump’s request. Sweden, which does not ordinarily allow bail, expects a panel of judges to reach a verdict in the case by August 14, and, if found guilty, Rocky will be sent back to the custody of Swedish law enforcement, presumably ASAP.

America, a magazine published by Jesuits in the United States, recently ran “The Catholic Case for Communism,” an essay whose title reads like an oxymoron. The Catholic Church’s history of anti-Communism is no secret. Neither is the special hostility that Communist parties and movements have reserved for organized religion, especially Catholicism. Dean Dettloff, the author of the article, points out that Communists have some noble aspirations — “to build better ways of being together in society,” for example — that should not be discredited by the intrinsic wrongness of Communist means and the crimes that Communists have committed against humanity up to the present day. We should separate the wheat from the tares, Dettloff says. Stalin, however, and the Gulag, the Holodomor, Pol Pot, the Kim dynasty, Mao, the Cultural Revolution, organ harvesting and internment of religious minorities under the Chinese Communist Party, and more — the tares add up and grew from the Communist seed.

• Mario Lopez, an incoming Access Hollywood co-host, told conservative activist Candace Owens in June that he thought the idea that three-year-old children should be allowed to pick their gender was “sort of alarming.” “My gosh,” he said, “I just think about the repercussions later on.” Perhaps Lopez, who has three children of his own, was referring to life-altering medical interventions and sex-change surgeries. He encouraged parents of young children to “be the adult in the situation,” but accepted that parents with differing views may be “good people, . . . coming from a good place.” As always, the mob descended, conflating common sense with transphobia. And, as always, the star in question surrendered. In a statement, Lopez apologized for his “ignorant and insensitive” comments. He surely won’t make the mistake of speaking his mind freely again.

• The women’s lingerie brand Victoria’s Secret hired its first transgender (male-to-female) model, Valentina Sampaio. This comes after the brand’s PR hiccup last year, when the chief marketing officer, Ed Razek, told Vogue that he didn’t think the brand should include “transsexuals” — a term no longer considered acceptable by trans activists. He later apologized for being — what else? — “insensitive.” Apparently, it’s okay to “discriminate” against women for not being beautiful, skinny, or tall enough, but not okay to discriminate against women for not really being female.

• A famous Evangelical author and pastor renounced his faith. Joshua Harris shot to fame in the late 1990s as the author of I Kissed Dating Goodbye, a book that urged Evangelical kids to forsake dating altogether in favor of a parent-directed and parent-supervised process called “courting.” The book represented a key part of Christian “purity culture” — a movement that often went well beyond orthodox Christianity (which reserves sex for marriage) to prohibit not just dating but also physical intimacy of any kind, including kissing. The oft-stated promise was that this level of purity would help prepare a person for happy, loving, sexually fulfilling marriage. Not only was this frequently an empty promise (marriage has its challenges however any person finds a mate), but countless Christian young people faced the immense guilt of believing that they were irreparably damaged by “failures” that weren’t even described in the Bible as sins. It’s sad to see a man walk away from his faith. It’s sadder still to see the damage he did before he left.

• Fifty years ago, half a million hippies descended on Max Yasgur’s farm in Bethel, N.Y., a late substitute after the promoters couldn’t get a permit at their original site, for a joyous celebration called the Woodstock Music & Art Fair. To be sure, Woodstock had its bummers (rain, mud, crime, deaths, bad acid, Sha Na Na), but it is still fondly remembered by those who were in attendance (and, often, by those who weren’t). A 50th-anniversary festival was planned for this month, but as the date approached, the legal and financial arrangements fell apart, and the event had to be canceled. Which is really just as well, because time has eroded the spirit of Woodstock more than lawyers and accountants ever could, and pop music today is about as rebellious as a golf sweater. Once you’ve heard Jimi Hendrix on grocery-store Muzak, you’ll never look back at your youth the same way again.

• They called him “Brother No. 2.” Brother No. 1 was Pol Pot. Nuon Chea was his second-in-command. Their movement, the Khmer Rouge, ruled Cambodia from 1975 to 1979, committing genocide. They killed about 2 million people, which is to say between a fifth and a quarter of the population. They had many apologists in the West, including intellectuals. Belatedly — in 2007 — Nuon Chea was arrested. He was convicted by an international tribunal of genocide and crimes against humanity. He was a pampered inmate, receiving the diet of his choice and other amenities. He has died, at the ripe old age of 93, in the Khmer–Soviet Friendship Hospital. In a hearing, he said, “We didn’t kill many.” (Liar.) “We only killed the bad people, not the good.” The illiberal, dogmatic, depraved mind must be guarded against, constantly.

• Let’s review the history of the Broadway musical since 1950. Train the floodlights on the highest of the highlights. Look, there’s Damn Yankees. Over here, West Side Story. You remember Fiddler on the Roof. Batting cleanup, Cabaret. Filling out the lineup, here come Zorba, Candide, Sweeney Todd, Evita, and The Phantom of the Opera. Behind every title on that all-star team of the Great White Way stood Hal Prince, as director or producer or both. His collaborators over the years included the choreographer Bob Fosse and the composers Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim, and Andrew Lloyd Webber. Together, Prince and Sondheim pioneered the “concept musical,” whose primary organizing principle is a theme rather than a narrative plot. The winner of 21 Tony Awards in a career marked by more than 60 productions in 65 years, Prince was a workaholic and a New Yorker who built his workshop in the town of his birth. A scion of wealth, he added to America’s cultural treasure. On July 31, Broadway theaters dimmed their marquee lights for a minute, for him, Hal Prince, dead at 91. R.I.P.

• “You think because he doesn’t love you that you are worthless,” Guitar tells Hagar in Song of Solomon (1977), Toni Morrison’s third and breakout novel, published when she was in her mid forties. “You think because he doesn’t want you anymore that he is right — that his judgment and opinion of you are correct.” A difficult writer, often more lyrical than linear but adhering to a certain logic nonetheless, Morrison knew what it was to be misunderstood, underappreciated, and dismissed. Readers who persevered were rewarded, however, and they rewarded her in return, with robust book sales and critical acclaim in the second half of her life. She enjoyed an extended streak beginning in the 1980s, with Tar Baby (1981), Beloved (1987), and Jazz (1992). Her trophies included a Pulitzer (1988) and a Nobel (1993) prize. For 17 years she held a chair in the humanities at Princeton. A black woman raised in modest circumstances in Lorain, Ohio, she thought hard about race, which in essays and interviews she described as a social construct that benefits some at the expense of others. Dead at 88. R.I.P.

 

SECOND AMENDMENT
Crush This Evil

In early August, in the Texan border town of El Paso, a white supremacist opened fire at a Walmart, killing 22. Per a manifesto he left on the website 8chan, he hoped to exact revenge against “the Hispanic invasion of Texas.” After the attacker of California’s Poway synagogue, he was the second gunman in the last six months to cite the massacre in Christchurch, New Zealand, as an inspiration. In the Internet era, malevolence tends to echo.

Ian Fleming observed that “once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, the third time it’s enemy action.” So it is here. We see our fair share of inexplicable violence in America, and most mass shootings are not racially motivated, as the atrocity in Dayton demonstrated within hours. But there is no doubt that El Paso was the fruit of a murderous and resurgent ideology — white supremacy — that deserves to be treated with the same gravity as the threat posed by militant Islam.

If our national reaction is to focus on guns, our national reaction will be mistaken — not because America does not have a problem with mass shootings, but because to focus on limiting guns in a country with half a billion in circulation and a constitutional provision protecting their ownership is to set oneself up for failure. In the last decade, we have watched in horror as devastating attacks have been carried out with the help of trucks, cars, bombs, grenades, incendiary devices, matches, and more. The task before us, to nip this grotesque insurgency in the bud, transcends our debate over means.

President Trump must continue to condemn these actions unambiguously, in both general and specific terms, as he did on August 5, when he insisted that “in one voice our nation must condemn racism, bigotry, and white supremacy.” Simultaneously, he must work with Congress to devote more resources to infiltrating, tracking, and foiling nascent plots, and instruct the federal government to initiate an information campaign against white-supremacist violence in much the same way as it has conducted crusades against drunk driving, human trafficking, and domestic violence. The First Amendment must, of course, remain intact. But there is no prohibition on monitoring hotbeds of radicalism, or on punishing those who plan or incite violence. We must do both.

Americans, too, must recognize that they have a crucial role to play in rooting out this awful ideology. If, as they should, the various providers that make websites such as 8chan possible decide that they no longer wish to do so, that is their prerogative. If, as they should, Americans take it upon themselves to spot the early warning signs of radicalization and do whatever they can to discourage it, that is their prerogative. The best prophylactic against mass killings is individual intervention and social responsibility.

Technology has made it tougher, not easier, to address threats such as this. It is one thing for undercover agents to infiltrate a militia or a terrorist cell in the hopes of taking action before a plot can be brought to fruition, but quite another to track a series of dispersed, unaffiliated actors who may be in the process of radicalizing. In the space of a century, our mission has gone from tracking men in uniform who happily lined up in marked trenches to tracking semi-ironic lost boys floating around the ether. But while the tactics have changed, the rest has not. Evil is evil and murder is murder, and we gain nothing by refusing to call them by their names.

NR Editors includes members of the editorial staff of the National Review magazine and website.

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The Week

Bill de Blasio has spent so much time in Iowa that when he gets back home, he’ll complain about the prices.

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