“I just can't agree that the best we can do is pray for Chattanooga. I think the best we can do is ascertain who our enemies are, whether foreign or domestic, and then kill them. That is what the CPD did. What will Barack Hussein Obama do?”
Local Democrats are denouncing recent online comments by Public Defender Steve Smith that followed the slaying of four U.S. Marines and one Navy sailor at a Chattanooga reserve center.
Smith, a Republican, says he will continue to speak his mind on his Facebook page, but he doesn't think his personal opinions should distract the public from the tragedy or the victims' families, "or remedying the ever-increasing frequency of terror motivated by Islamic fundamentalism."
A day after 24-year-old Mohammad Youssef Abdulazeez open fired on a Lee Highway military recruiting office and unarmed servicemen at the Marine-Navy military facility on Amnicola Highway, Smith criticized the federal government on social media.
"I just can't agree that the best we can do is pray for Chattanooga. I think the best we can do is ascertain who our enemies are, whether foreign or domestic, and then kill them. That is what the CPD did. What will Barack Hussein Obama do?"
On Monday, local Democrat Chairman Terry Lee said he was "saddened and dismayed" by Smith's comments and that they were "misguided on so many levels."
After saying prayer was important to the community during times of tragedy, Lee voiced concerns about Smith's obligation to defend the accused in court — no matter who they are.
"For a public defender to insinuate that we should 'ascertain who our enemies are and then kill them,' this clearly violates the principles of the American justice system," Lee wrote in a news release.
Smith said in a written response to the Times Free Press on Monday he did not wish to politicize the shootings, nor would he engage in a "tit for tat" with the local Democrats.
"The bodies of our fallen servicemen have yet even to be buried," he said.
Describing Thursday's shooting not as a crime, but as an "act of war," Smith said he was responding as a private citizen. And he didn't intend to do any campaigning for some years to come.
"But until I seek re-election in 2022, I have no intention to inject myself further other than this one response to questions I have been asked about this issue," Smith wrote.
However, he will continue to post his thoughts on Facebook.
"Read it if you like. Share it if you feel it's appropriate. But again, I believe political grandstanding and partisan squabbles in the papers and on the airwaves, that some in the media would like to foment, take away from what ought to bring us together; consoling the survivors and remedying the ever increasing frequency of terror motivated by Islamic fundamentalism," Smith said.
Contact staff writer Louie Brogdon at lbrog firstname.lastname@example.org, @glbrogdoniv on Twitter or at 423-757-6481.