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National Commentary

Holes In Trump’s Views On Combatting Terrorism

By Bill Fletcher, Jr.

NNPA News Wire Columnist

I awoke to a story that Presidential candidate Donald Trump was now proposing that the families of terrorists should be killed. As best as I can tell, his rationale is that if any terrorists know that their families will be killed, they are less likely to be terrorists. The Russian mafia has a similar view on dealing with opponents, by the way.

There are several things about this ‘proposal’ that struck me. First, which terrorists? Does Donald Trump mean that the family of the late Timothy McVeigh – the Oklahoma City bomber – should have been whacked by the USA? Does he mean that the family of Robert Dear, the alleged terrorist in the Planned Parenthood attack in Colorado, should be taken out? Does he mean the family of James Holmes, the convicted killer in the Aurora, Colorado massacre? Does he mean the family of Dylann Roof, of the Charleston, South Carolina church killings? Does he mean the family of Adam Lanza, the killer in the Newtown/Sandy Hook elementary school shootings?

For some reason, I suspect that this is not what Trump had in mind. But it is a relevant question since most of the post-9/11 terrorism in the USA has been carried out by white supremacists. Taking Trump’s argument to its logical conclusion would mean that a lot of White people would find themselves on the receiving end of drone attacks or sniper shootings.

Second, who is a terrorist? This is actually more complicated than it seems since there is no international consensus on the definition of a terrorist. There are, for instance, Kurds who are fighting the so-called Islamic State (Daesh) in Syria and Iraq who are considered terrorists by Turkey, but have received varying degrees of support from the USA.

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Whose families should be exterminated? In the 1980s the U.S. government supported the Contras in their war with the Nicaraguan government. The Contras engaged in military attacks on civilians and non-military targets. That is usually a definition of terrorism. Should their families have been eliminated? What about the families of the US governmental authorities, e.g., the CIA, who supported such operations?

You see where I am going? But let me add one point. Has it occurred to anyone that we may already be paying the price for the killing of families of alleged terrorists? Think about it for a moment. Every time there is so-called collateral damage in the killing of alleged terrorists, that is frequently the family and/or friends or in some cases, simply someone walking by.

Has anyone considered that such killings may have already triggered reactions on the part of people who might have otherwise never considered anything close to terrorism?

Trump and several of the other Republican candidates are very fast and loose with their language. They talk as if we are engaged in a giant video game war where there are no real consequences, just a shoot ‘em-up free-for-all. In the case of Donald Trump, it might be that this is the result of prolonged exposure to reality TV shows.

Just saying…

Bill Fletcher, Jr. is the host of The Global African on Telesur-English. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and at

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