War on Terror

It's Time to Go After Those People!

Who those people are depends on your partisan affiliation.


If recent events have taught us anything, they've taught us that Those People are going to have to give up some of their freedom. Because the rest of us just can't afford it any more.

Who Those People are, however, depends on whom you ask.

Ask some conservatives, and they'll identify Those People as Muslims. All of them.

Sure, at least 5 million Muslims live in the U.S., including many who serve in the military and law enforcement, and the number who have committed terrorist acts, like last week's attack in San Bernadino, is in the low tens. But let's say the number is far higher: 500. Even that would make the ratio of peaceful Muslims to terrorist Muslims at least 10,000 to 1.

On that basis, Donald Trump wants to create a Muslim registry and monitor mosques, and maybe even shut them down. On Monday, he called for a total ban on Muslims entering the country. And a lot of Republicans apparently think Trump has a swell idea. One poll finds that 27 percent of GOP primary voters would approve of shutting down mosques, while 38 percent would oppose the idea and the rest aren't sure.

So much for conservatives' vaunted support for religious freedom. Might as well kiss our First Amendment goodbye.

Kiss the Fourth Amendment goodbye too, while you're at it. While a majority of Republicans oppose the sort of mass surveillance conducted by the NSA until very recently, two out of five still support it. They're the ones who cheered New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie when Christie and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul sparred over domestic spying during the first Republican presidential debate in August. The Christie side might have gained the upper hand since then.

Mass surveillance of Muslims has been tried before, incidentally, by the New York Police Department, which used photo and video surveillance, informants ("mosque crawlers"), databases, and spies who could pass as Muslims of various ethnicity. The NYPD has since abandoned the practice because, among other things, it never produced any actionable intelligence. Not one single lead.

Yet to many conservatives, none of this matters.

For some liberals, Those People are gun owners. All of them. And they, like Muslims, apparently are going to have to give up a lot of their freedom, too.

Sure, at least 70 million Americans own upward of 350 million firearms (including 3.3 million Colt AR-15s), and for every violent gun owner there are thousands more who will never hurt a soul. Yet after last week's massacre the air was filled with demands that the nation Do Something about guns.

Those demands came in two types. The first is a plea for "commonsense" measures such as universal background checks, assault rifle bans, limits on magazine capacity, and (perhaps) instruction, licensing, and registration. The trouble is that, as a response to mass shootings, such measures are largely pointless. They certainly failed to stop the last one: California already has an extensive gun-control regime that (1) bans assault weapons and large-capacity magazines, (2) mandates background checks and mental-health reporting, (3) requires all firearm purchasers to obtain a safety certificate, (4) requires a 10-day waiting period, (5) limits pistol purchases to one per month, (6) requires pistol microstamping, (7) prohibits the sale of unsafe handguns, and more.

The more honest gun-control advocates concede as much, and argue that real results will come only from more sweeping measures, such as an Australia-like confiscation program. As The New York Times put it in a front-page editorial on "The Gun Epidemic in America" on Saturday, America must "drastically" reduce the number of guns in circulation, "eliminating some large categories of weapons and ammunition. . . . Yes, it would require Americans who own those kinds of weapons to give them up for the good of their fellow citizens." So say goodbye to the Second Amendment, too.

Left unmentioned by The Times was the inconvenient fact that gun homicide rates have fallen by half over the past two decades, during a period when gun laws have gotten laxer, not tougher. The number of people killed by rifles (including assault rifles) in a given year is generally fewer than 400, which makes it smaller than the number killed by hammers and other blunt instruments.

But the liberal obsession with guns, like the conservative obsession with Muslims, cares little about facts. Both are willing to truncate the rights of millions of people based on the possibility that a minuscule percentage of those millions might lash out violently at some point in the future. Which is why Muslims ought to be standing up for the rights of gun owners, and vice versa. Because the logic behind arguments to deprive Those People of their liberties is the same logic that threatens Us Folks as well.

This column originally appeared at the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

NEXT: Fear & Loathing: The Secret of Donald Trump's Success

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  1. The part that boggles the mind is that each of these “sides” doesn’t see that they’re the same.

    1. They are not “the same”. Both sides are statist, intolerant, and totalitarian-leaning, but they do have different constituencies and they differ significantly in the details of how they want to screw with your life. Life under a fascist dictator, a communist regime, and a Catholic monarchy are quite different from one another, and some of those poisons are worse than others.

      1. Some poisons are worse than others? How about no poison, or choosing your own poison? Both sides are controlling statists.

        1. Some poisons are worse than others? How about no poison, or choosing your own poison?

          I’ll not be holding my breath for the “no poison” solution winning the day. The point is pragmatism. Sure, the end goal is no poison, but the short-term goal is to get a less deadly poison.

          1. Tough to know where that line is. Truthfully that may wind up being Hillary as she is just a corrupt money grubbing political whore. Trump may start WWIII.

            1. I’d bet on Hillary starting WWIII more than Trump. Hell, Trump doesn’t even want us in Syria, his last stated position being to let Russia deal with it. Trump has stated that Libya and Yemen were wastes of American money, meanwhile Clinton started the war in Libya to help out her corporate friend’s financial interests there.

              1. Can Trump actually be said to have a “position,” as opposed to an emotional response to the last stimulus that hit what he flatters himself is a mind?

                1. Has there been any U.S. military intervention in the past 25 years that Hillary hasn’t supported? And for all the complaints about Trump’s lack of guiding ideals, what are Hillary’s ideals beyond saying what the tells her is popular with liberals?

                2. Seamus, one of the first things I realized about Trump was so fundamental that it’s hardly been mentioned anywhere… http://www.plusaf.com/homepage…..licans.jpg

                  I couldn’t find a graphic like that, so I had to cobble one together myself!

      2. Both sides are statist, intolerant, and totalitarian-leaning, but they do have different constituencies and they differ significantly in the details of how they want to screw with your life.

        Doesn’t matter. Regimes change. The power you give government to do unto others will be used to do unto you.

        1. Egg Zackary

        2. Very well said!!

        3. some democrats seem to think that demographics are gonna hand them the future, but that’s nonsense. clearly no politician has any qualms about taking exactly the opposite position they took a few years ago, and even if the whole electorate shifts to the left there’s still gonna be a slightly more conservative party and a slightly more liberal party. plus theyll keep moving the goalposts, cuz people with progressive inclinations seem to feel the need to be on a crusade (which is nothing new some people have always felt that way, including people in the actual crusades)

      3. I would rather inconvenience a bunch of foreigners than infringe on the rights of citizens.

        1. It’s interesting how quick you are to separate people into different groups.

          1. Lorenzo Zoil [love that handle, btw]…

            Funny thing is: all we do any more IS separate people into different groups.

            Yes, maybe That Is The Problem, because immigrant Assimilation into our culture (in the Real Old Days) seems to have been replaced by “bring your culture Here and flaunt it and Stay As Different As Possible from The Current Gentry…”

            I suggest that assimilation is a Good Idea, but since the hippie days of ‘universal love and acceptance,’ followed by the Ultimately Politically Correct Movement, that just don’ happen any mo.

            Any quick fixes come to mind? You couldn’t even pass a bill naming “English” (even American English) as our ‘National Language.’

    2. Do away with the WOD and you’d probably see the gun homicide rate fall off a cliff.

  2. “But the liberal obsession with guns, like the conservative obsession with Muslims, cares little about facts.”

    Speaking of caring little about “facts”. Conservatives are literally OBSESSED with Muslims? More “factual” would be that conservative politicians are animated about the lack of action against JIHADIS. But I guess when you can create your own facts the statement works.

    1. What action can be taken against domestic Jihadis that doesn’t also violate several Constitutional Amendments? I can see monitoring information that is voluntarily published on websites, but, (honest question) what else is there?

      1. I think your question is fair. I was thinking about Jihadis abroad. But, acknowledgement that they exist domestically, allowing law enforcement to pursue all reasonable leads, and better overseas data bases is a start. Maybe stop being so f-ing PC about everything so that odd behavior is reported. I am constantly reminded that my 2nd amendment rights are subject to feel-good laws, so why should my rights be the only ones pissed on?

        But my comment was really about the silliness of the line about people caring little about facts. The comment had about as much to do with facts ( measurable verifiable data – not opinion polls or pundit impressions) as the concepts of civil and natural rights have to do with my dog eating her own shit. I doubt any rational analysis would come to the conclusion that “conservatives” (a non-measurable “fact”) are obsessed with Muslims.

        But they’ve gotta fill the pages.

        1. “so why should my rights be the only ones pissed on?”

          I find that this is one of the ways we get into trouble. We should be concerned with everybody’s rights, any sacrifice of fundamental rights is damaging to the whole. The fact that we (and France apparently) are willing to piss all over basic liberty is handing a victory to the terrorists. We need a more Monty Python attitude, “now go away before I am forced to taunt you a second time.”

          1. The point there was to criticize the (supposedly) 80% of the population who think “background checks” are lovely, but then complain that their rights are abused. I agree with your general point.

          2. “Pissing all over basic liberty” is handing victory to the tyrants, the terrorists are a secondary issue.

            1. The terrorists are trying to change our way of life, why should we do any of the work for them?

    2. Yawn, I am so tired of these “but, but, but conservatives aren’t as bad as liberals” comments. Yes they are. Both sides suck. Equally. Fuck them both.

      1. No. They don’t. As someone here put it recently, the worst case scenario with conservatives is life becomes like it was in !aerica in the 1950’s. The worst case scenario with orogressives is life becomes like it was in the Soviet Union in the 1950’s.

        1. The worst that can happen? Hmm, statist left or statist right, let me see. Wait! They’re both on the side of massive government control,… maybe neither of them is actually right.

        2. Ah yes, the days when gay men were locked up for being gay, housewives drugged themselves out on laudanum, and a black man could be lynched for making eye contact with a white woman.

          Gee, why would anyone object to that?

          1. Good times!

          2. Good times!

        3. Sue, what you’re saying really is that Both Sides, if allowed to run amok with their uniquely “correct ideas” WOULD be bad for the US! I’ve been saying that for years.
          But the way I put it is: Anyone who says “my way is right and Their Way is Satan’s Own Spawn” is showing the fundamental characteristics of a cult.

          And I see that in both “Major political parties” and about 90% of what bloggers spew into comments on any given site… Left, Right OR Reason.com.


      2. They both suck equally bad, but I hear Republicans give better reach-arounds 😉

    3. “Liberals are literally OBSESSED with gun owners? More “factual” would be that liberal politicians are animated about the lack of action against MASS SHOOTERS.”

      It’s just verbal judo really, rearranging the words to make the irrational liberal or conservative position sound less irrational.

      1. No, liberals ARE obsessed with law abiding gun owners. And making it more difficult to BE law abiding. Stopping mass shootings has never really been their priority. But it’s a good delivery vehicle for 2A infringement.

  3. I feel like there was a really great satirical article trapped in that headline, and you went and ruined it by being explicit with your premise. I was really looking forward to reading a thousand-word harangue on “those people” that applied to both without naming them.

    1. The people that need to know it are too stupid to get the parable. That’s where we’re at now. We’ll bring back the really high-brow stuff once we get freedom a little safer and more comfortable. We might even be allowed to go back to experimenting with drugs and otherwise behaving as autonomous human fucking beings at some point without constantly finding out we’re in violation of some one or the other of a mass of byzantine fucking diktats.

  4. So much for conservatives’ vaunted support for religious freedom.

    Well, like that is any news. Look at all the conservative hypocrisy on gay marriage: protected status for me, but not for thee!

    1. To be fair to the conservatives… whatever that term happens to mean… Republican =/= conservative. I know journalism schools all preach about using synonyms, but journalists often fail to recognize what is and isn’t a synonym.

      1. In 2012 the part of the 2012 Republican platform that talked about gay people was written by conservatives. Pretending that they’re different on this topic is pretty self-deluded.

        1. The topic of the article was on Muslims, and the author conflated conservative with Republican. Bad logic.

      2. I said “conservative hypocrisy” and I mean it. Protection and support of Christianity is a core tenet of mainstream conservatism, and conservatives are not generally calling for a unilateral abolition of civil rights protections based on religion.

        1. Are they generally calling for a unilateral abolition of civil rights protections based on one particular religion? You’d have to have a lot of evidence to back that up…

        2. While definitely hypocritical, between gay marriage and wedding cakes, I’d say the people who want to force the baking of wedding cakes are worse simply for the reason that they actually want to force someone to do something. Even if gay marriage went completely unrecognized, gay people could still have weddings, call themselves husband and husband, live in the same house, fuck each other, etc. Gay marriage is largely a paper right. Whether it’s acknowledged by the state or not has little discernible effect on what anyone can actually do.

          1. Birth certificates, adoption rights, hospital visits, social security, end-of-life decisions, burial plots. But please, tell me more about how unimportant these “paper rights” are.

            Further, since we’re talking about the hypocrisy of conservatives, you’re gonna need to defend the conservative reaction in 2003 to Lawrence v. Texas.

            But hey, even if you don’t want to acknowledge what conservatives have actually stood for (remember how conservatives bitched over Obama’s hospital visitation executive order?), and just want to talk about baking cakes…

            Currently, federal non-discrimination law says that I can go into a bakery and the owner can throw me out on my ear because of their religion. That same owner can then follow me into my (hypothetical) comic shop and I am prohibited from throwing them out on their ear because of their religion.

            But I’m the hypocrite for saying that status quo is bullshit?

            1. Where’s this prohibition on comic shops throwing people out based on religion?

              At issue in the same sex marriage cases was whether or not there existed a right to have the state regulate one’s relationship with another person.

              1. Civil Rights Act (1964).

            2. You have to be married to make end of life decisions and receive SS benefits?

              I can’t marry 3 women, but I can have some sort of relationship with them at my heart’s content. The fact that I might not be able to visit one of them because I’m not legally a family member is less of an outrage than a Christian who was forced to bake a wedding cake. Or a professor who loses his job because he committed some sort of speech crimes. O

              There’s no “marriage equality” in this country. And there could never be one, at least not in the libertarian sense (for all intents and purposes). If some rights are allowed only for individuals who are recognized as the government as “married”, then most of that should be done away with.

              1. visit them at a hospital

              2. “You have to be married to make end of life decisions […]”
                Generally speaking, yep. Sure, you can draw up living wills, powers of medical attorney and so-on, but as hospitals throughout the country proved over the decades (repeatedly and with gusto), that doesn’t mean shit if you’re gay.

                “There’s no “marriage equality” in this country. And there could never be one, at least not in the libertarian sense (for all intents and purposes). If some rights are allowed only for individuals who are recognized as the government as “married”, then most of that should be done away with.”
                Ah, so you’re in the “let the perfect be the enemy of the good” crowd. Good to know.

  5. To change Republicans support of Mass Surveillance we simply need to change the link the meaning of the phrase to the Catholic Churches definition of a religious gathering of Christians. No one can support the surveillance of religious gatherings…. of Christians.

    1. I would if they were the Westboro Baptist Church.

    2. Hrm… makes me think of Houston this past year. Where the preachers and churches sue the city, and the city goes into normal fact-finding mode and the churches all freaked the fuck out.

      1. That wasn’t “normal fact-finding mode.”

  6. So the plurality of conservatives are actively opposed to shutting down mosques and the majority do not favor it but because 27% (worrisomely high to be sure) are actively for it consevatives are for eliminating religious freedom protections.

    Does Hinkle know how majority opinion of a group works?

  7. I quite reading after the third sentence. Conservatives are not trying to get ride of muslims.
    there are some who want to slow down their immigration until things get clear. You sir with your blanket comment makes you no better than Trump and anybody else that uses blanket statements about others.

    1. Exactly. I personally despise Islam. But I’m hardly willing to shred the constitution to get rid of all the Muslims. On the other hand, there is absolutely nothing wrong with severely restricting Islamic immigration in the short term.

  8. As usual, this paints the “conservative”position by one guy’s more impassioned comments.

    The Trump position that Muslim IMMIGRATION from the Middle East be suspended until we come up with a way to perform the background checks we are supposed to be performing anyway, not so extreme. The comment on shutting down mosques and deporting Muslims here legally is over the top.

    Many here keep wandering over into anarchy advertises as libertarianism. If you are opposed to border controls, you are preaching anarchy. A nation without border controls is not actually a nation at all.

    Just for you open border types to chew on.

    If a bunch of people came onto my property without permission and refused to leave, property rights would say I can have them removed. If I were kind enough to say, wait, let me build a fence so I don’t get any more here, and then figure out what to do with the squatters, we would conclude I was a kind fellow indeed,

    If you tell me that I can’t put up a fence, and I can’t stop more from coming, AND I can’t kick the squatter’s out, then I have no property rights at all.

    Just so, if a nation can’t control it’s borders and can’t expel squatters, it has no identity AND it does not own itself. In sum, you have said it has no rights at all. Anarchy.

    It is perfectly ok for you to favor anarchy, but it is getting tiresome that you keep calling it libertarian.

    1. Comparisons between being able to secure property that you own and national boundaries don’t really translate that well. Property ownership is a basic individual right that exists independent of national boundaries or laws. A nation is a collective, which by it’s very nature has no rights as the rights can belong only to individuals. Another basic individual right is to travel freely. Now, how does a collective that does not possess rights prove that the individual who is traveling freely violated it’s rights? Stating that a nation with open borders is not a nation is pretty ridiculous when you consider that this nation is intended to be “of the people.”

      The arguments that have to be made are that the new persons who traveled here are violating the individual rights of other persons who are already here. What are those violations? Personally, I see more customers, but that’s just me.

      1. If we cannot control this nations borders we aren’t a nation, we’re just the stretch of land between Mexico and Canada. Being a libertarian doesn’t mean you have to say just anyone can walk into this nation and take it over or we aren’t free.

    2. The biggest mistake here is thinking that a nation – rather than individuals – has property rights. Only individuals can have property rights. Collectives could if all of it’s members consented to having property rights, but in the case of the nationstate, we know that’s BS.

      1. Ah, so China could just send a billion people over here and we’d be helpless to prevent it because nations don’t have property rights.

        Small wonder so many people look at libertarians and shake their heads.

        1. They could, but a society with well regarded individual property rights is only attractive for those who also pay into it, is it not? It’s not like the market controls the carrying capacity of the US based on who can afford it – and if the Chinese can afford it, they obviously must be an asset to us.

          The only way I’d think that such a method would be a bad idea is if we mass subsidized social housing, but unlike the UK we aren’t that idiotic. Well, mostly.

        2. You seem to be suffering under the misconception that since the nation does not hold property rights neither does the individual. Nobody has said its OK for new people to steal property.

          1. We give them our money through welfare. By virtue of their presence, they receive service that take my money.

            1. That’s a progressive welfare state problem, not a right of free travel problem.

      2. And yet I see No Trespassing signs on government property all the time. How do you explain that? Especially if government property is public property.

        1. That is a very good topic of discussion. Especially considering it plows deep into the government’s need to keep secrets. The government has no rights, therefore has no right to own. The people hold those rights, so where does the government get off telling the owner to keep out? Good question.

    3. The people advocating open borders are not libertarians, they’re morons.

      1. Your mom is moron.

  9. Every single person coming into this nation should be thoroughly vetted before they’re allowed to roam amongst the population. I don’t care if you’re an illegal immigrant or a refuge. There should be some place set aside for these people to wait for the government to vet them not only for terrorism links but for criminal links and disease. The big reason we can’t do this in a reasonable period of time is the millions of illegals coming across, but as far as I’m concerned they should fall to the back of the line when it comes to any legal immigrant, visitor or refugee and their home nation should be billed for their care while we vet them. If their home nation won’t send a check then take it out of the billions we send them in foreign aid.

  10. The author is playing with the numbers and the facts. It is not just the ones that start shooting, every American since 9/11 has been terrorized at every airport. Every Jew who has been shouted down on our nation’s campuses is a victim. every demand for sharia law is a terrorist action.

    1. That’s silly, you just stated that freedom of speech doesn’t apply to a certain religious group. Unless they call for their followers to commits acts if terror then the First Amendment protects their speech as much as it does yours.

  11. Islam is not a religion, per se; it is a socio-political system with a veneer of religion – not dissimilar to Marxism-Leninism.
    We banned Communists, we can ban Muslims.
    Or, I suggest you invest in chain-mail turtle-necks.

    1. You are technically correct. The best kind of correct.

    2. And both banning communists and banning Muslims are equally wrong and insipid.

  12. Immigrants are not citizens and have no constitutional rights. I guess that fact is hard for Barton Hinkle to figure out. There is also no constitutional right of anyone to immigrate to the US. I guess that fact is hard for Barton Hinkle to figure out too, yet Reason wants me to donate money to them so they can continue to assault my intelligence with this kind of stupidity. To paraphrase Donald Trump; I. Will. Never. Give. You. Money. While. You. Continue. To. Insult. My. Intelligence.

    1. Is that why it is OK to bomb brown people? Because they have no constitutional rights?

      1. Apparently you didn’t serve in Kosovo, Serbia, etc….or hell, World War II, since that is also within a lifetime.

      2. Chip, that kind of response is what progressives do when they have no argument.

    2. Rights do NOT originate with the Constitution. All people are born with basic individual rights. In case that was unclear,… ALL people. The Constitution affirms those rights and burdens our government with the protection of those rights. Far too many people left and right don’t seem to grasp this simple concept.

      1. Our constitutional rights, and citizenship do NOt extend to the entire population of the world.

        1. The protections of our Constitution do not extend to the entire world. Inalienable rights are, however, universal and exist regardless of location or form of government. Again, your rights do not originate with the Constitution.

        2. So, the constitution is literally the source of origination of our rights? Do you realize that you are being exactly the same as Tony? For him it’s the government, for you it’s a piece of paper.

          If the constitution has any value it all, it is because it asserted those rights, not because it created them. And if you doing something to a citizen of the US violates his rights, then doing the same thing to someone who isn’t a citizen is also a violation of that non-citizen’s rights. To argue otherwise is beyond absurd.

  13. Over on Breitbart they’ve got a cover from the New York Daily News slamming Trump with a parody of Niemoller’s famous poem. It goes,

    “When Trump came for the Mexicans, I did not speak out–as I was not a Mexican. When he came for the Muslims, I did not speak out–as I was not a Muslim. Then he came for me…”


    I want to smack the NY Daily News back in the face (especially given their extreme anti-gun views that they’ve been pushing since the Islamic terrorist attack in San Bernardino):

    “When Obama came for the coal mining operators, I did not speak out–as I was not a coal mining operator. When Obama came for the non-union shops, I did not speak out–as I was not a non-union shop. When Obama came for the gun-owners, I did not speak out–as I was not a gun owner. Then he came for me…”

    These idiot leftist and rightist tribes just can’t seem to see that the weapons they create to beat the other up WILL be used by the other to beat them up.

  14. There’s a jar of 10,000 jelly beans and two are laced with cyanide. It might be possible to figure out which ones are laced. Until then, reach in and have a handful. Enjoy.

    1. Abusus non tollit usum. Also, humans are not jelly beans.

    2. I pissed in one of your perfume bottles.

  15. Outstanding article, and that only scratches the surface of left/right hypocrisy.

  16. When is it time to go after the people who go after people?

  17. Uh oh


    That’s the scary thing. All you need is a few radical mosques and individuals to inflict massive amount of damages.

    No, I don’t want surveillance on Muslims. But I’m not under any illusion that there aren’t Muslim organizations and mosques with DIRECT ties with terrorism. Or at least individuals with direct ties with terrorism.

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