My classmate Clint "the Weasel" Watts will be on TV this morning, on MSNBC's 'Morning Joe' sometime between 7:30 and 8:00 am Eastern, to talk about the attack last night in Nice. I wish I had time to watch him. I would very much like to find out what he thinks.
I've seen his previous analysis, though. Bottom line, he said that ISIS is losing the fight in Iraq and Syria, that they are on the cusp of destruction as a fighting force on the ground in their own home territory. With this, they've been sending out End of the World messages, telling their people to strike now before it's too late. In this respect, at least, there is at least some truth in their typical line of bullshit. This is the end--for ISIS.
Meanwhile, the rest of us need to go on living.
I've been frustrated with our country these past weeks. We started by shooting men who tried to comply with police instructions and ended by shooting actual police, and folks, this is not the way. We need to be better than this. There are people out there who are actively trying to kill us, and there are people right here in our own country who want and are seeking legitimately to create a race war, and the rest of us... We need to stand a little taller and try a little harder not to act like such a colossal bunch of assholes. Right now, this country is a little too fertile a recruiting ground.
I have this theory. Angry people don't actually need a reason to lash out, they just latch onto whatever rationale is convenient to their tribe of origin. Communism, anarchism, racism, ISIS, Fuck-the-Police, whatever, you name it. Whoever you are, there's someone out there who's ready to justify the act of terror you've been sitting around dreaming about. There is no shortage of reasons.
I have this friend, Mohammed. He works in my office. I helped get him hired. He's a good engineer. He is also, beyond doubt, the most devout Muslim I've ever known. Good dude. Kind, generous, funny. We have our cultural differences, but I really like the guy. It's a pleasure to work with him.
Mohammed's words: "All these dumb fuckers just need to kill themselves. They're all a bunch of jackasses who don't know jack-shit about Islam. They're a bunch of drug dealers. They get a little religion, and they go fucking crazy. They don't know what they're talking about! They were sick fuckers before, and they're sick fuckers now, only now they're sick fuckers with a little bit of Islam. It drives me crazy!
"If these guys want to kill themselves, then let them die. They need to stop trying to take people with them."
I spent about six hours one day helping Mohammed set up a 401K portfolio profile that was both effective and in-line with his belief system, which forbids earning profit through interest. This was not easy. I have an MBA in finance, and that's pretty much what it took to figure out how to make this thing happen. He refused even to invest in banking stocks on the basis that banks lend money. Okay, fair enough, but a really substantial portion of the funds out there use financial stocks as at least part of their overall portfolio mix. Of the ones that don't, most suck my ass. So we had to hunt for these things, and after a few hours we found them, and then I had to convince Mohammed--at some length--that I wasn't try to put one over on him. He was wholly committed to choosing the harder right over the easier wrong. No argument here, but man, that took some doing.
This, though, is what it takes to be a good citizen.
As I told Mohammed later, "You're a citizen now, and I'll be damned if I let you feel left out of the American Dream. That's not why I went to West Point, and it's not what this country is about. I refuse to let that happen."
I said that to him, and for a minute, I thought he was going to start crying. Instead, he now just makes an effort to ask me how Army Football is doing, which is an unalloyed good all on its own.
I've said this before, but here it is again: If all else fails, give blood. Volunteer. Lift people up when you speak. Pay your taxes without complaint. Be the person you want your kids to be.
We have to do better, folks. We have to find a way.