Monday, June 20, 2016

Radical Islamic Terrorism

Radical Islamic terrorism, Radical Islamic terrorism, Radical Islamic terrorism.

As a great crooner of Polish and Lithuanian background put it decades ago: there, I've said it again.

Some Republicans are exorcised because President Obama refuses to use the term "Islamic terrorism." Unfortunately for them, they have a (presumed) nominee who takes it about 37 steps further when he claims

Look, we’re led by a man that either is not tough, not smart, or he’s got something else in mind. And the something else in mind—you know, people can’t believe it. People cannot, they cannot believe that President Obama is acting the way he acts and can’t even mention the words “radical Islamic terrorism.” There’s something going on. It’s inconceivable. There’s something going on.

There is nothing going on, he's tough enough to have beaten the Republican Party in two elections and withstood their single-minded obsession with destroying him, and he's very, very smart. Last Tuesday, the President responded to individuals criticizing him for avoiding the term when he argued

What exactly would using this label would accomplish? What exactly would it change? Would it make ISIL less committed to try to kill Americans? Would it bring in more allies? Is there a military strategy that is served by this?

The answer is none of the above. Calling a threat by a different name does not make it go away. This is a political distraction.

It is largely- but not entirely- a political distraction. As Obama continued, he revealed his core reason for not using the phrase, stating "Since before I was president, I have been clear about how extremist groups have perverted Islam to justify terrorism."

No, he has made it clear he believes extremist groups have perverted Islam to justify terrorism.   There are individuals who know more about Islam than he and much more than I, who maintain that the fundamentalist beliefs of such terrorists are fundamental to the Muslim faith.  The large minorities, in some cases majorities, of Muslims in particular nations which hold to beliefs similar to those of classic Islamic terrorists contradict the President's assumption.

There is a benefit, albeit limited, to calling a spade a spade, an extremist an extremist, and a radical Islamist a radical Islamist.  The GOP, however, lacks the credibility to make this argument, one which insists that words and details have meaning.

In the wake of the Orlando attack, John McCain initially claimed "Barack Obama is directly responsible" for the atrocity. Senator McCain- a former GOP presidential nominee, member of the Foreign Relations Committee, and generally possessed of sobriety- soon clarified

I and others have long warned that the failure of the President’s policy to deny ISIL safe haven would allow the terrorist organization to inspire, plan, direct or conduct attacks on the United States and Europe as they have done in Paris, Brussels, San Bernardino and now Orlando.

That was a clarification, one issued with the assumption that Omar Mateen had taken orders directly from the Islamic State in the Levant. John Podhoretz in The New York Post also reinforced the fear that ISIL was behind the attack when he wrote

An Islamist terrorist waging war against the United States killed and injured 103 people on our soil. We Americans do not bear collective responsibility for this attack. Quite the opposite.The attack on the Pulse nightclub was an attack on us all, no less than the World Trade Center attack. 

It can be done directly or by innuendo.   Any attack evidently committed by a Muslim must have originated with ISIL, even though the group itself has not taken credit, a significant omission from an organization dedicated to spreading terror.   The right has never acknowledged that the attack in San Bernardino, California was not organized and directed by ISIL. If, however, a terrorist attack is not committed by Muslims, it is, axiomatically, not a terrorist attack.

So: radical Islamic terrorism, radical Islamic terrrorism, radical Islamic terrorism.  Let's call it for what it is, and then let's label as a suspected terrorist Robert Lewis Dear, who reportedly murdered several black parishioners at a Charleston, S.C. church, and the fanatically anti-abortion Dylan Roof of Colorado Spring infamy. Once conservatives look in the mirror, Barack Obama should start referring to "radical Islamic terrorism." Rest easy, Mr. President. It's not happening.

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