How Donald Trump would destroy America (and possibly the world)

Published: The Good Men Project (May 19, 2016)

America is in a “boy who cried wolf” situation right now. We’ve grown so accustomed to comparing our presidents with tyrants, or insisting that a candidate’s ascent to power will result in calamity, that even those of us who see an actual wolf in our midst aren’t being taken seriously. The people voting for Donald Trump are well aware of our concerns but – having grown jaded to polemical hyperbole – aren’t able to recognize that the threat is real this time. read more

Bernie Sanders is a compassionate, intelligent man who has no clue how to run a country

Published: Quartz (April 6, 2016)

If Bernie Sanders wants to be president, he’ll need to do better than this.

The Democratic senator is doubtless feeling pretty optimistic today, fresh off a primary victory in Wisconsin. And yet a much more telling measure of the candidate’s presidential chances happened earlier this week, during an interview with the editorial board of the New York Daily News.

Reading the interview is a thoroughly disheartening affair. As editors plied Sanders with questions about how he would implement his radical agenda, it became abundantly clear that Hillary Clinton’s chief rival doesn’t have many answers. read more

Right Wing Terrorism and the Obama Brand

Published: The Good Men Project (January 19, 2016)

Since the start of his presidency, conservatives have been quick to lambast Barack Obama for not being tough on Islamic terrorists. Unfortunately for both them and the rest of America, a spoiled rancher and his political cohorts have now provided them with one of their ultimate moral tests – namely, whether their staunch anti-terrorist posturing will hold up when right-wing extremists are the ones with the guns.

As most of the nation already knows, a group of armed protesters near Burns, Oregon broke into an unoccupied building in a federal wildlife refuge and refused to leave. Their ostensible reason for doing this was to demand the release of Dwight and Steven Hammond, a pair of ranchers who set fire to 139 acres of public land to cover up their poaching activities. Although the Hammonds already served time for the offense, a judge recently sent them back to prison when it was determined that their original sentence had been illegally abbreviated. “This facility has been the tool to do all the tyranny that has been placed upon the Hammonds,” group spokesman Ammon Bundy declared to a local media outlet. “We’re planning on staying here for years, absolutely. This is not a decision we’ve made at the last minute.” read more

One year after the Charlie Hebdo attack, we are still #JeSuisCharlie

Published: The Daily Dot (January 6, 2016)

January 7th marks the first anniversary of the Charlie Hebdo shootings in Paris that left 12 dead and 11 wounded. As we reflect on the greater meaning of the tragedy that occurred that day, a series of complex lessons present themselves, encompassing many of the most crucial issues facing the United States today—from the importance of defending free speech to the need for pluralism and tolerance toward marginalized peoples everywhere.

After describing the magazine’s long tradition of religious and political iconoclasm, former Charlie Hebdo employee Caroline Fourest recalled in a recent op-ed for Politico how many media outlets “stabbed us in the back: By lying about our intentions, refusing to explain the chronology of events and the context of our actions, and by echoing the same accusations we heard from fanatics themselves.” Even as the Western world united in its horror at the atrocities perpetrated by the Muslim terrorists that day, many also insisted that Charlie Hebdo had committed an atrocity of its own—namely, that of micro-aggressing against a non-Western religious group. “The despicable accusation that Charlie was ‘Islamophobic’ was not only wrong,” Fourest declared, “it had killed and continued to puts its survivors in danger.” read more

How America’s fears are letting the terrorists win

Published: The Daily Dot (December 22, 2015)

Forget about the terrorists. At his rate it seems like we’re determined through our own fear to allow the terrorists to win.

Allow me to explain.

Let’s start with the rash of school closings that have occurred over terrorist threats. The first (and without question most patently absurd) was the “clock boy” incident from earlier this year, when a 14-year-old Muslim boy in Texas was suspended and held by police for building an elaborate clock that one teacher believed was a bomb. Then, in the aftermath of the ISIS attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, the city of Los Angeles shut down all of its schools after receiving an email that administrators believed constituted a credible terrorist threat. read more

What the end of the NSA’s bulk phone record collection really means

Published: The Daily Dot (December 2, 2015)

It’s official: The NSA was legally required to terminate its bulk phone record collection program this week. That may not provide much comfort if you happen to use the Internet (and particularly if you communicate using social media)—but it’s a major win worth acknowledging.

If you’re wondering why the government can still monitor what you do online but can’t access your phone records (at least not without permission from your cellular service provider), the reason is a little complicated. Although the National Security Agency has collected phone records since terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, the public wasn’t made aware of this practice until the Edward Snowden leaks almost 12 years later. Shortly thereafter, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuitclaiming that the program was unconstitutional, resulting in a two-year legal battle that ended when an appeals court ruled that the NSA’s actions were indeed unjustified. read more

An aggressive military response is precisely what ISIS wants

Published: Salon (November 20, 2015), The Daily Dot (November 18, 2015)

As the world reels from the last Friday’s terrorist attack in Paris, millions of people have taken to Twitter to share their grief and outrage… and many echoed Donald Trump’s call to “bomb the shit” out of them.

The desire to immediately strike back at ISIS with overwhelming force is understandable. It took under 48 hours for the French military to retaliate for the attack with air strikes against targets in the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa, Syria. However, it’s important to remember why groups like ISIS mount large-scale spectacle terrorist attacks against Western targets in the first place: to provoke a dramatic military reaction that brings moderate Muslims around the world into agreeing with its worldview. Retaliatory strikes against ISIS will certainly weaken the group, maybe even destroy it, but that type of response is precisely what ISIS is hoping to elicit. read more