That was the meat and potatoes of 22-year-old Tomi Lahren’s “Obama rant” that went viral on YouTube and Facebook this week, bringing in millions of views and receiving high praise from conservative pundits across the country, to the point where she was invited on as a guest of Fox & Friends.
The video, which I saw shared by conservative friends on Facebook, is a scary and disgusting look into the one-track, short memory minds of the talking heads that continue to spew their hatred and division on national television each week.
Because my fellow Americans do not all believe everything they hear without a second thought, I’d like to explore some of Ms. Lahren’s rhetoric, “facts” and opinion. I’m going to do this by quoting her directly from this video, answering some of her questions, and then putting her words next to objective, factual evidence that we have today (and, of course, some of my own rationale). I will not be linking to or embedding the video because, frankly, I think it’s a pretty dangerous thing to be propping up.
Lahren starts by reminding everyone of the horrible tragedy that took place this week:
“4 United States marines are now dead. Climate change didn't kill them, lack of free community college didn’t kill them, the income gap, wage inequality, nope, not those things either… gay marriage? Nope. Oh, white racism? Not that either. So what did? President Obama, if you won’t say it, I will: radical Islam. This is not work place violence, this is not a criminal act with motives unknown, this is terrorism, the suspected shooter Mohammad Youssef Abdulazeez a devout Muslim.”
At this line, a green screen of a soaring bald eagle flying next to our flag appears behind her. No, I’m not kidding. It literally looks like something out of the satirical Colbert Report.
Firstly, she seems to flippantly dismiss every major issue she can think of that liberals care about, from gay marriage to Dylan Rooff killing nine black people solely because of their race. Unlike Rooff, however, Mohammad Youssef Abdulazeez didn’t leave behind a memoir explaining why he did what he did. In fact, this is precisely a "criminal act with motives unknown." Asserting that it was “radical Islam” isn’t just presumptuous, it also implies that Mohammad was a devout Muslim, which doesn’t appear to be true. As multiple reports have confirmed, despite once describing himself as “devout” in a blog post years ago, Mohammad - like many 24-year-olds I know - struggles with his faith. He drank, smoked, dated American women, was an American citizen, and was treated for depression; all things you aren’t likely to find in a devout Muslim. Of course, when Rooff killed 9 African Americans, most on the right assumed he wasn’t a racist but rather “mentally ill” despite there being no evidence of any illness or depression. When Mohammad, a muslim, kills five marines (the fifth passed the day Lahren was uploading her video), and has an actual history of being treated for depression, the words or “depression” or “mentally ill” are never mentioned by The Right.
“Do I care that he seemed like an All American young man? Do I care that he was good at mixed martial arts or a smart quiet guy? Do I care that his high school friends wouldn’t classify him as “overly religious”? No, I don’t give a flying you-know-what about any of that.”
Of course she doesn’t, because these kinds of things hurt the narrative she is desperate to create.
"Was he linked to ISIS or Al-Qaeda or Hamas or any of the other 15 plus offshoot terrorist groups? Does it matter?"
Um… yes? It does. It matters quite a bit, actually. Whether he was linked to a terrorist group, or working under someone's instruction, is extremely important in gauging our response as a nation.
“I’m sorry, but radical Islam is becoming the rule, not the exception. Yesterday’s moderate is today’s terrorist.”
Here, Lahren just goes completely off the walls. First of all, “yesterday’s moderate is today’s terrorist” is about as rational as me saying “yesterday’s pro-gun activist is today’s Dylan Rooff.” It’s simply and belligerently absurd. Her assertion that radical Islam is becoming the rule or that it’s trending in that direction is also plainly untrue. In Iraq, only 7% of the 31 million Muslims say that a suicide bombing could sometimes be justified. In Afghanistan and Palestine, those numbers climb as high as 40%. A frightening statistic, no doubt. But a majority? Of course not. These are countries in a perpetual state of war, wars that have a history that give a question like “do you support suicide bombings” loads and loads of nuance. Two-thirds or more of Muslims in Egypt (67%), Tunisia (67%), Iraq (68%), Guinea Bissau (72%) and Indonesia (78%) all say they are concerned about religious extremist groups in their country. In other words, two thirds of the muslims in those countries share the same view as Lahren.
"I care this s.o.b. killed four of our United States Marines. And I care that our commander in chief is more concerned with Muslim sensitivity than the honor and sacrifice made by these Marines. Now this is the 21st time our military men and women have been attacked here at home. This is not a Middle East problem, this is an America problem. I’m sorry but I can’t sit here and let this go, not any more. I come from a family of Marines… [lists her relatives who have served in the military…] But the sad thing is, I was telling him last night, I think you’re safer over there than you would be right here in the United States of America.
She’s right, this IS an American problem. We are the ones, after all, who have poured money into offshoot terrorist groups. We are the ones who helped de-stabilize the region when we killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, many of them civilians, over the last 15 years since 9/11. Our Commander in Chief's “concern” about “Muslim sensitivity” is not about him not caring about our servicemen and women. It’s about us, America, catching up to the rest of the world and working on the way we make blanket statements about people because they are associated with an individual through race, religion, creed or political party. As for her husband or boyfriend being safer overseas: Tomi, you and your husband are 55 times more likely to be killed by a police officer than a terrorist in America. In 2011, eight Americans worldwide — including the ones living in those Muslim countries you fear so much — were killed by terrorism. 29 were killed by lightning strikes. You are 2.5 times more likely to die as a U.S. servicemen than as a typical civilian. So, in short, your assertion that your husband is safer overseas in a presumed war zone is ridiculous and offensive.
"I've had it with this failed strategy that is halfway, half baked tip toe be friendly to Jihadi mentality thats pushed by this administration. They, the radical Islamists have brought the fight right here to the Red, White and Blue and it's about time we bring it to them. Full force. Let's show them what the U.S. of A looks like up close and personal. Show 'em what a B1 bomber looks like flying overhead. Show 'em what they're messing with. Put the fear of OUR God in their desert. Because clearly our lack of strategy isn't working.”
She then encourages her audience to check out her hashtags, tweet at her and check her out on Instagram. Cute.
This closing is the pinnacle of the grotesque agenda that she’s pushing. But at least she’s honest about it, unlike some of the Republican leaders she undoubtedly votes for. She wants U.S. military to fly over countries with Muslims in them and drop bombs (as if we aren't already doing that). She wants dead Arabs, maybe, hopefully, some of them terrorists (as if we aren't already killing them). She wants the same thing that we’ve done dozens of times before, the same thing that has helped grow and foster the anti-American sentiment that runs rampant in the Middle East. She wants your son, daughter, brother, sister, husband, wife, cousin or friend who serves in the military to be thrown into harms way because a man with a Muslim sounding name killed five marines in cold blood. And anger is okay… being upset is okay… it is a horrific tragedy, and one that may have been preventable. But pushing a violent agenda to millions of people is not okay, especially not when the administration she pretends to abhor is already doing everything she's asking: sadly, Obama leads all Presidents in drone strikes. But he did help capture and kill Osama Bin Laden. He has destroyed several terrorist outposts in the Middle East in the last few months alone. Most tragically, every day Muslims are killed in the Middle East with American weapons, whether those guns or bombs are being held by American soldiers or terrorist organizations. And Tomi Lahren either knows this and is lying willfully or doesn't know this and is showing her ignorance. I'm not sure which is more discouraging. She is a disgusting excuse for a journalist, a news anchor and an American. Her memory is short and her foresight is weak.
In closing, I'd like to include the response of one former army ranger, a self-proclaimed 21 year veteran (I have cautious optimism because it's the Internet), who responded to the video thusly:
- A B-1 bomber? Have you not learned anything from our failures. For every terrorist we may or may not kill, we inevitable end up killing a few dozen civilians. Do you think the family of the victims let this go. NO, they pick up arms against the US for unjustly killing their family members, and I don't blame them one bit. We invaded their countries first. We already dropped over 5,000 bombs there.
- Groups like ISIS have been created by geo-political tensions and a power vacuum in the middle east, these violent groups trying to seize power will always appear in situations the the current middle eastern war.
- In 2001, Afghanistan was invaded and occupied because the U.S. accused the former Afghani government (known in the West as the “Taliban”) of harboring “al-Qaeda” extremists even when al-Qaeda never took responsibility for the 9/11 attack on the U.S. When the Afghani government offered to apprehend those extremists on behalf of the U.S. if the Bush regime provided the evidence against them, the U.S. refused the offer and embarked on a murderous and illegal war of aggression.
- You just don't get it. The more you torture these people, the more you fuel their hatred and their fanaticism, the more you convince them of how godless our western civilization is. Hatred breeds hatred that breeds hatred that breeds hatred. There is just no end to it. Not before we all go to a very dark place.
Now, Lahren, you have an answer to some of your questions and the facts and history to combat your outlandish claims. While the "strategy" you despise so much may not be "working" how you want it to, it is far, far better than anything you suggested in your lying, pathetic two minute rant.