A Democratic congressman decried reactions to this week’s terrorist attacks in Canada, arguing people shouldn’t get worked up about “Muslim hordes” coming to get the U.S.
Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) told MSNBC yesterday that President Obama was “very measured in his response.” Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper called the killing of a soldier at the National War Memorial in Ottawa followed by shots fired at the parliament building the work of a “terrorist” in his address to the nation. Obama stressed “we don’t yet have all the information about what motivated the shooting,” adding “it emphasizes the degree to which we have to remain vigilant when it comes to dealing with these kinds of acts of senseless violence or terrorism.”
“Usually people — the information we get immediately after one of this incident turns out to be partial or incorrect or wrong direction all together. I mean you have to look back to Timothy McVeigh when he blew up the building in Oklahoma City, or we had two guards killed in the Congress since I’ve been there by a young man who was trying to bring a gun in who was mentally not balanced,” McDermott said.
“You have to wait and get the information, and I think the president, by not getting his hair on fire is doing exactly the right thing. We don’t know who did this, we don’t know if there’s a conspiracy or anything else. All the speculation you’re seeing in the press is done by irresponsible people in my view.”
The shooter, killed by House of Commons Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vicker, has been identified as Michael Zehaf-Bibeau. Reuters cited U.S. officials saying Zehaf-Bibeau was a recent convert to Islam, and the Globe and Mail said his passport had been taken away by the Canadian government after he was designated a “high-risk traveler” who was planning to go fight overseas.
NORAD was put on high-alert posture after the Canadian attack. McDermott said that wasn’t necessary.
“You know, we’ve just gone through the Ebola virus. That was the crisis of last week. Everybody’s hair was on fire about Ebola and suddenly a shooting occurs in Canada and suddenly our hair is on fire that somehow the Muslim hordes are going to come and get us; there’s no evidence for that,” he said.
“And to me it sends the wrong message to the people, especially to those people who are inclined to do these kinds of things, it gives them ammunition to say, well I’d better do something now before — that kind of stuff encourages this kind of stuff.”
The congressman said he feels “very comfortable” with security on Capitol Hill.
“Walking around the campus as I have for the last few years, you occasionally suddenly see another layer of police, and you see people being directed away from certain areas. And you see things happening and you know that they’ve changed something because they’re concerned about something. I think that’s prudent, that’s what we create the police for, to do the things to protect us,” McDermott said.
“They don’t necessarily have to tell us everything that they’ve heard or worried about. They simply have to do their job. And I think that, sometimes the government official like President Obama doesn’t need to tell everybody everything he knows. He needs to deal with it in an appropriate way using the instruments of government. And so far I’ve seen him do a good job. I really think he’s handled this very well.”