I don’t like Donald Trump. I don’t like the orange hair, the ridiculous comb-over, the Mussolini pout, the boorish manners, the juvenile tweets. But his latest exploit — taking a stand against Muslim immigration, and thereby drawing the scorn of almost the entire political class — finds me in his corner. Trump’s stand seems like common sense to me, but to President Obama and company, such notions are simply “not who we are as Americans.” And who can argue with that? After all, Americans elected Obama twice, so common sense is definitely not who we are.
(While on the subject of “who we are,” I might note that we are the ones who nuked Nagasaki. For its own sake, the Caliphate should keep that in mind.)
Still, I know Trump can’t win. He’s like Clayton Williams, the oil tycoon who gained the GOP nod for Texas governor in 1990 by promising to introduce crooks to “the joy of busting rocks.” Williams delivered that line in TV ads, with convicts in the background swinging sledgehammers in a rock pile under the watchful eyes of rifle-toting prison guards. Great stuff. Republican voters ate it up. But “Claytie” went down in flames when he faced Democrat Ann Richards in the general. And that was in Texas. The same fate awaits the Donald, should Republicans put him up against Hillary Clinton next year.
So how can we avoid that fate, when Trump is the only one (besides mild-mannered Ben Carson) who dares say “boo” to Muslims?
I have an idea, and it doesn’t involve other Republicans trying to out-do Trump, either in Muslim-bashing, which has given him his current boost, or in Mexican-bashing, which first launched him to the head of the GOP pack. It involves Republicans falling in line, at last, with the views long expressed by some two-thirds of the American people. It involves hanging murderers.
Consider that Sirhan Sirhan, the first Arab in modern times to lift his hand against the United States, will celebrate his 72nd birthday next year, 48 years after he gunned down Robert Kennedy in Los Angeles. Why is Sirhan still eating the people’s groceries and wasting the parole board’s time? Because the courts decided that putting him to death for that premeditated political murder would be “cruel and unusual punishment.” Killing Sirhan, as today’s political class might say, is not “who we are.”
Sirhan’s family were Palestinian Christians, not Muslims, so his offense makes no part of the tally of Muslim crimes against America. But there’s much, much more.
Consider that Ramzi Yousef, architect of the first attack on the World Trade Center, will celebrate his 48th birthday next year, 23 years after trying to do what the 9/11 conspirators succeeded in doing. Why is Yousef still taking his ease instead of pushing up daisies? Well, in his case, the government didn’t even try to put him on Death Row. Never mind that he killed six people while seeking the death of thousands. Hanging him for it is not “who we are.”
Consider that Zacarias Moussaoui, self-confessed participant in the 9/11 conspiracy, will also celebrate his 48th birthday next year, 10 years after being convicted for his role in that as yet unequalled atrocity. Unlike Yousef, Moussaoui actually faced, for a time, a slim chance that he might actually take the long walk for what he had done. How did he like it? “You will never get my blood.” he raged. “God curse you all!” Not to worry, big guy. The jury will choose to spare your life. Then, having received mercy, the chastened, remorseful, grateful Moussaoui exulted, “America, you lost. … I won!”
Three thousand of us were murdered in a single morning, but we mustn’t hang anyone for it. That is not “who we are.”
Or consider Nidal Hasan, the U.S. Army major who at Fort Hood in 2009 killed 13 of his fellow Americans — 14, if you count the unborn child among them. Here at last is a terrorist who landed on Death Row. But it took the Army almost 4 years to convict Hasan, and there is no telling when it will get around to executing him. Of the five other inhabitants of the Army’s Death Row, two committed their crimes in the 1980s. Chances are that Hasan, like Sirhan, will live to a ripe old age.
It seems the only sure way for a Muslim terrorist to get hooked up with his 72 virgins is to be killed in the act. Nevertheless, the fact remains that even if you total up all the American blood they’ve spilled, from San Bernadino back to the Barbary Pirates, it’s only a drop in the bucket next to what our own home-grown criminals have been doing to us, year in and year out.
Obama referred to that fact when he urged people to compare the toll taken by terrorism with that taken by “gun violence.” Since his target is Americans’ guns, not our murderers, the lives we’ve lost to knife, club and bare-handed violence don’t figure in his thinking.
But suppose it’s the impunity of murderers, not the availability of guns, that makes us so vulnerable to violence? After all, most murderers are not jihadis who imagine their crimes will earn them a delightful heavenly reward, and most are not simple nihilists who hate their own lives as much as they hate their victims. Most are in no hurry to meet their Maker. They seek to avoid detection, arrest, prosecution, conviction and, above all, execution. Is there no way the law can reach such people?
It may be the best-kept secret in America, but for years, researchers have been looking into that possibility. Their results? The death penalty is a powerful deterrent when, and only when, it is actually enforced. You can read about the studies here, here, here, here and at many other places on the Web. I’ve written about it here, here, here, and here.
The rebuttals to such studies boil down to one word: “Inconclusive.” But that’s not good enough when so many innocent people’s lives — over time, hundreds of thousands of lives – are at stake. If the deniers of deterrence are wrong, then future murder victims’ lives are being thrown away every time a murderer’s life is spared. It may take a constitutional amendment to fix that situation, but for their sake, fix it we must. And the first step in fixing it is to recognize it.
So let Obama, Hillary and the rest of the Democrats push gun control. Good luck with that. Let Trump push his ban on Muslim immigration. That won’t go anywhere, either. But Trump’s Republican rivals, if they have a brain in their heads, should be pushing for swift and certain enforcement of the death penalty against all murderers. That’s an issue even a Bush can win on.