Mourn and be angry after Brussels, but don’t forget who the real enemy is

In the Caribbean Sea some 200 miles off the coast of Miami, on an island that’s roughly the size of the state of Kentucky, two world leaders met to begin the process of normalizing a global relationship that has been nothing short of toxic for more than six decades.

On Monday, President Barack Obama and President Raul Castro joined hands — albeit very awkwardly — and expressed optimism that one day the long-isolated nation of Cuba can be reintegrated back into the international community.

It’s something that many presidents before Obama tried to accomplish, dating back to John F. Kennedy — just months after the Cuban Missile Crisis, the closest America has ever come to nuclear war — to no avail.

Yes, Cuba still has a lot to overcome, namely the restriction of free speech through persistent jailing of government dissidents, but to see two world leaders make the effort to establish peace in an increasingly hostile world is nonetheless encouraging.

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And then, less than 24 hours later, bombs exploded in Belgium.

It’s the nightmare authorities have for months been dreading ever since they learned of an extensive terrorist network that resides within the northwestern European country following last November’s Paris attacks.

Already this week, we’ve seen hope and terror at its finest. And it’s only Tuesday.

There’s no question we’re starting to become a bit desensitized to these tragedies. It’s also easy to compare today’s death toll — at least 30 — to the 130 who died in Paris four months ago and internalize that it’s not that bad.

But let’s not forget these are 30 innocent lives, and 30 families that are gravely affected. It usually takes names and faces, and personal life stories, to make the victims resonate with most people. Maybe this time, though, until those identities do come out, let’s just grieve and take a moment to acknowledge these 30 nameless people.

Typical cliches run rampant after such incidences. Phrases urging you to not give into fear,Brussels.jpg to not let anxiety over terrorism dictate your life, and to support love over hate. You know, the usual.

Here’s another one for you: don’t be stupid.

Fear-mongers relish these situations to pedal intolerance and manipulate others in their most vulnerable states. Don’t let them.

Instead of listening to an emphatic sound byte, maybe do a little bit of research on your own to better understand who the real enemy is. And that enemy is a small fraction of disillusioned people called ISIS who long ago traded away their humanity. Nothing more, nothing less.

Don’t condemn Islam. Don’t blame all Muslims. Don’t hate someone because they’re not like you.

It’s so easy to do — I know. I understand that. But it’s also incredibly ignorant, and doesn’t do you justice as a human being. You’re better than that.

I certainly can’t tell you what to think. But if you feel like you need to point blame at some one, then I hope you’ll block out the outside noise and form your own opinion.

Because we can’t move forward unless we all understand who we’re against. And even more important, who our allies are.

I know where I stand.

Do you?

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While the nation goes crazy, a man named Bud Weisser tried to save us

A few hours ago, Donald Trump said he wants to bar entry into the United States for all Muslims.

I’m way too aghast at this news to even attempt to formulate an objective, productive post about it. So I’ll let it go, for now.

But I will say this: Most people are smart enough to refrain from posting ethnically, racially or religiously insensitive comments on Facebook, knowing full well that it won’t be received favorably by their peers, and that doing so is essentially equivalent to outing yourself as a bigot.

Sharing the sentiments of someone else who is saying such things?

I see no difference.

Obama Oval OfficeBut anyway, this is obviously a very bizarre time in America right now. Six million people are running for president, and we’re less than a week removed from the most deadly terrorist attack on American soil since Sept. 11, 2001.

People are seething over guns and radical Islam, and there’s so much divisiveness that President Obama felt obliged to address the nation directly from the Oval Office on Sunday for just the third time in his presidency.

The world really needs something we can unite behind in agreement — even if it’s not necessarily a positive thing.

Enter one, Bud Weisser.

Let’s face it. This kid never had a chance. You hear unfortunate sob stories all too often of children being born into a life of poverty or crime, or other circumstances so miserable that they never really had a fair shake to become anything but a criminal.

The same goes for any kid who had the bad luck to be named by their Bud Weisserparents Bud Weisser.

And this isn’t one of those things where your parents named you Charles Manson and then some psychopath came along and ruined your name forever.

This Bud Weisser fellow is 19 years old, and the company Budweiser was founded in ’76. No, not 1976 — 1876. What in god’s name were these parents thinking? And don’t give me that “his real birth name is Buddy” nonsense. They knew full well what would end up happening. They knew.

Anyway, Bud Weisser fulfilled his destiny last Thursday when he was arrested for trespassing the Budweiser brewery.

It’s his second arrest in 15 months, as he was charged for breaking into a gas station convenience store last August, presumably to steal Budweiser.

Again, poor dude never had a chance. And even if he is a perpetual screw-up, I think he did this stupid act last week for the greater good. To distract us from the chaos that’s happening in the world.

Because you can’t possibly hear a story about a man named Bud Weisser being arrested at a Budweiser brewery and not temporarily forget what you were thinking about beforehand.

Time Magazine is set to announce its 2015 Person of the Year on Wednesday.

In my mind, the decision has been made.

And his name is one Bud Weisser.

A deeply troubling anti-Islamic sentiment is upon us

I really, really wanted to lighten things up around here today and back away from politics in the aftermath of the Paris attacks.

But there’s one more piece of unfinished business.

I’ve spoken about how the most powerful way to combat terrorism is to show that it hasn’t taken away your spirit or your heart. And I know that sounds like an overly simplistic, idealized, Care-Bearish way to think about it, but I firmly believe it’s true.

New York Times Columnist Paul Krugman today said the most tangible accomplishment terrorist groups like ISIS can achieve is to inspire fear. They can’t establish the type of Islamic state that they so badly want to. Not in Paris, certainly not in the U.S., not anywhere.

They win when their actions cause us to panic. They win when they make us rush to react. And they especially win when they divide us.

Refugees ParisAnd I’m afraid that seems to be what’s happening right now. At least in the immediate aftermath of Friday’s attacks.

Barack Obama has stood firm in his stance to not put American troops on the ground to fight ISIS. His administration has, however, coordinated with the French military in its airstrikes of ISIS strongholds in Syria over the last two days..

At least one presidential candidate, Governor Lindsay Graham of South Carolina — whose polling so low he wasn’t even invited to FOX’s undercard debate last week — wants to send troops, warning that the next “9/11” is on its way from Syria.

But what’s most alarming is the xenophobic, anti-Islamic sentiment that has erupted across the U.S. At least 23 governors — all but one of them Republican — are taking action to prevent Syrian refugees from entering their states.

Another presidential candidate, Bobby Jindal — whose so irrelevant I don’t even remember if he debated or not last week — issued executive action to blockade Syrians from Louisiana.

Donald Trump said he wants to inspect mosques for signs of terrorism. Ben Carson wants Congress to defund federal programs that resettle Syrian refugees in America. Jeb Bush said we should favor Christian refugees over Muslims.

It appears that people are forgetting that the United States’ history of acceptance of all people is what made it the global superpower and world leader it is today. We set the standard for diversity.

Quite simply, the America we know does not exist without the infusion of immigrants.

Does that mean we all get along? No. But the sudden discrimination of Muslims is as anti-American as can be. And it’s all because of the perverted view of a small minority of religious extremists.

It’s OK to be angry. It’s OK to be upset. And it’s certainly understandable to crave justice.

But remember who the enemy is. When we start discriminately searching for people to blame, that’s when we lose all the values that make us who we are.

Do you know what takes real courage in the face of hardship? Not giving into intimidation or fear tactics, especially those spewed by political stakeholders who have their own ulterior motives.

It’s up to you to make up your own mind.