LOS ANGELES — Taking part in a roundtable discussion on homeland security at USC, Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton said March 24 that Americans cannot “give in to panic and fear” in the face of terrorism.
“We cannot allow our nation to be pitting groups of people against one another,” the former secretary of state and first lady said at the USC Ronald Tutor Campus Center. “We cannot give in to panic and fear. That’s not in keeping with our values.”
A divisive approach “is not effective in protecting us, and it plays into the hands of terrorists who want nothing more than to intimidate and terrorize people, turn [us] against each other, which leads to radicalizing more people and creating even more problems for us,” she said.
Emphasizing the need for everyday people to play a role in combating terrorism, Clinton spoke about a taxi driver who unknowingly took three terrorist bombers to Belgium’s airport last week.
“This gentleman … heard about the attacks and immediately wondered whether the three passengers he had taken to the airport that day, who he thought were somewhat strange-acting, could have been involved,” she said. “What he did was reach out immediately to law enforcement and say, ‘I picked up these three men and I can tell you where I picked them up.’”
She said that taxi driver led police to a terrorist stronghold.
Clinton was greeted at USC by Mayor Eric Garcetti, who introduced her as, “in my opinion, the next president of the United States.”
In remarks during the roundtable discussion, Garcetti said, “As a global city, we reflect the world,” and noted that the group was assembled to talk about “a dangerous time, a worrying time, a difficult time.”
A string of terrorist attacks have occurred in recent months, including in Paris, San Bernardino, Lebanon, Turkey and West Africa.
Clinton echoed another speaker’s call for amplifying the voices of moderate Muslims, saying a bigger stage needs to be given to more even-keeled views amid discussions about terrorism.
“It’s become harder and harder for moderate, reasonable voices to be heard,” she said. “The way you get eyes or ears is to be provocative, even extreme — to say things that are going to draw attention.”
Salam Al-Marayati, president of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, said mosques — where members of the Muslim community gather — should not be viewed as “centers of radicalization,” but as “assets” in fighting terrorism.
Al-Marayati said reaching out to mosques and the Muslim community means that family members who are often the first to detect something has gone wrong with a relative will be readier to report it or intervene.
Increasingly, he said, “radicals are being told to detach” from their mosques and families.
“We have to see that American Muslims are part of the solution” and that terrorists are “nothing more than a mafia,” Al-Marayati said.
Clinton said she hopes roundtable discussions like the one at USC “will be replicated in many places.” She added that an analogy Al-Marayati made comparing terrorist groups to gangs could be useful for those who feel uncertain about what to do about terrorism and how to understand it.
“People who feel marginalized, left out, left behind want to join something,” she said. “L.A. has a long history of dealing with gangs and doing so more successfully than other cities in our country. And thinking about it in that way may give more Americans an understanding … there are many hats for us to take to counter violent extremism, to find more positive experiences, to empower, particularly, young people.”
The roundtable discussion — hastily arranged in the midst of a Clinton fundraising swing — came one day after Clinton used a speech at Stanford University to further outline her strategy for defeating the Islamic State group.
In a statement released in response to the roundtable, Republic National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said the blame for the recent terrorist incidents should be placed on Clinton and President Barack Obama, who have been “wrong about ISIS at every turn, which has resulted in more attacks and a more
“From her failed Libya policy, to her support for the president’s hasty withdrawal from Iraq, to her failed online counter-terrorism program at the State Department, Hillary Clinton has backed policies that have enabled ISIS to grow into a global threat,” Priebus said.
“We need a president who will take a fundamentally different approach to defeat radical Islamic terrorists, not someone like Hillary Clinton who dangerously believes we ‘finally are where we need to be,’” Priebus said.
Clinton also appeared on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” and spoke at two fundraisers for her campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination in her ninth trip to the Los Angeles area since declaring her candidacy on April 12, 2015.
Clinton’s first fundraiser was a late-afternoon event at the Santa Monica home of Julia Franz and Chris Silbermann. Tickets cost $2,700, the maximum individual contribution under federal law to a candidate seeking a party’s presidential nomination, according to an invitation obtained by City News Service.
Individuals raising $10,000 for what the campaign is billing as a “Conversation with Hillary Rodham Clinton” were designated as co-hosts and received an invitation to a reception with fellow co-hosts and were able to have their pictures taken with Clinton.
Silbermann is a co-founder of the talent agency ICM Partners. Franz, his wife, has produced such television series as “State of Affairs,” “Men at Work” and “Made in Jersey.”
Following her appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” Clinton spoke at an evening event at the Avalon Hollywood nightclub, which also included performances by the singers Estelle and Ben Harper. Hip-hop music magnate Russell Simmons served as master of ceremonies.