America after Paris: 16 Dumb and Terrifying Ideas

trump narrowBe afraid. Be very afraid — of what we might do to ourselves. Thus far, we’ve had American politicians suggest:

  1. Stopping completely the trivial number of Syrian refugees accepted by the US (specifically including “orphans under 5.”)
  2. Banning Syrian refugees from their state (x31).
  3. Shutting down mosques.
  4. Shutting down any “cafe, diner, internet site” where “radicals are being inspired.”
  5. Registering Muslims in a government database.
  6. Creating a federal agency to spread “Judeo-Christian values.”
  7. Instituting a religious test for refugees.
  8. Denying visas for 30+ countries with “jihadist movements.”
  9. Suspending the 2nd Amendment for anyone on a “watch list.”
  10. Invoking FDR’s concentration camps for Japanese Americans.
  11. Deploying the National Guard to round up and remove refugees.
  12. Weakening Apple and Google’s encryption.
  13. Blaming the PlayStation 4.
  14. Blaming Edward Snowden.
  15. Executing Snowden by hanging.
  16. Launching a full ground invasion of Syria.

Some of these (10 & 11) come from the usual sideshow of clueless and impotent — mayors and state legislators — but most are from governors, senators, intelligence officials, and presidential front runners.

One must hope that cooler heads will prevail. But if this is the response to one attack from ISIS-affiliated terrorists outside the United States, what is this place going to look like if and when they manage to kill someone on US soil? The damage that authoritarian demagogues are itching to inflict on our society seems to multiply the threat of terrorism by an order of magnitude. (Which is the idea.)

Meanwhile in the country that was actually attacked, French President Hollande has taken quite a liberal stance on refugees:

Our humanitarian duty to refugees goes hand in hand with the duty to protect the French. 30,000 refugees will be welcomed over the next two years. Our country has the duty to respect this commitment. Therefore we have to make the necessary checks before accepting refugees on our soil. This is what we have done and that is what we will continue to do.

But don’t be too sanguine about the French response to the attacks. Abroad, it seems that they are bombing just for the sake of bombing, with little effect on ISIS. At home, they have launched nearly 800 police raids, and hundreds have already been detained or placed under house arrest.

One wonders, did the French government discover solid, reasonable intelligence on several hundred terrorist locations over night? Or are they just kicking in doors to make a big show?

Meanwhile, the French parliament just instituted a three-month state of emergency. What this means, among other things:

Armed police and soldiers are patrolling intensively. Go to a shopping centre or take a train, and you will see them. House arrests will be enforced against people suspected of being a threat, and more searches will be authorised. …

Local state representatives, the Prefets, have extra powers. They will be allowed to impose curfews, ban people from staying in towns or cities if they are believed to want to “frustrate the actions of the state in any way”, and provisionally close concert venues, bars and meeting halls. They will also be allowed to dissolve associations, organisations or groups deemed to “incite, facilitate, or participate in actions threatening public order.”

And Ars Technica UK reports, police searches of computers and cell phones may extend to any “any data that is ‘accessible from the initial system or available for the initial system'” and including “any type of information on any type of electronic device” and “any information available via usernames, passwords collected during a police search, any content stored online.”

The state of emergency will also allow the government to block any website the French Minister of the Interior deems to “promote or incite terrorist attacks.”

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Daniel Bier

Daniel Bier

Daniel Bier is the executive editor of The Skeptical Libertarian.

View all posts by Daniel Bier

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