In the wake of the collected terrorists attacks in France the Obama administration has given us much to be ashamed of. Top of the list is declining to send a representative to the official memorial service… an act that seemed like an official snub and was initially defended by Secretary of State [mc_name name=’Sen. John Kerry (D-MA)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’K000148′ ] before he was tossed under the ObamaBus. Coming in a close second it the refusal of the White House to acknowledge the source of the attack for what it is: Islamic extremism. From Monday’s White House press gaggle:
Q And will you speak about the battle against Islamist extremism?
MR. EARNEST: Well, all forms of violent extremism would certainly be discussed in the context of this summit. But obviously the threat that we see from violent extremism in which individuals invoke the name of Islam, an otherwise peaceful religion, as they carry out these attacks would certainly be obviously a priority in the discussion here.
Q Josh, why wouldn’t you use the phrase right there, that we are going to take on Islamist extremism? You said all forms of violent extremism.
MR. EARNEST: She asked me what the summit would discuss, and all forms of violent extremism would be discussed, and obviously the most potent and certainly the most graphic display that we’ve seen in recent days is, again, motivated by those individuals that seek to invoke the name of Islam to carry out these violent attacks. And that’s certainly something that we want to work very hard to counter and mitigate, and we’ve got a strategy that we’ve been discussing for some time to exactly do that.
Q So if it’s the most potent form, according to you, of extremism, why isn’t the summit on countering Islamic extremism?
MR. EARNEST: Because violent extremism is something that we want to be focused on, and it’s not just Islamic violent extremism that we want to counter; there are other forms of —
Q The recent cases in Paris, Australia, Canada — isn’t the thread through them that it’s Islamic extremism?
MR. EARNEST: Well, certainly the examples that you cite are examples of individuals who have cited Islam as they’ve carried out acts of violence. There’s no arguing that.
This is insane. When you have attacks carried out by people who are muslim, who use Islam as their justification, a justification that is approved of my a multitude of Islamic imams and subscribed to by near majorities of the adherents of that religion you aren’t talking about a few Quakers going rogue. In fact, it has become increasingly hard for the administration’s defenders to convince us that while we are playing checkers, Obama is playing five-dimensional tiddly-winks or something without ending up looking silly. For instance, from the LA Times and Don’t beat up on Obama for avoiding the ‘I word’:
But I also have some sympathy for the administration. Like George W. Bush before him, President Obama wants to repudiate the libel — subscribed to by too many Americans — that violence is intrinsic to Islam. One way to avoid any such implication is to avoid mentioning “Islam” or “Islamic” at all in high-profile pronouncements.
Also, when the president does try to parse the relationship between Islam and extremism he can sound silly. In an address to the nation last September, he said the self-described Islamic State wasn’t really Islamic. That prompted one critic to tweet: “I was unaware our president was a theologian with knowledge sufficient to declare that which is, and is not, Islamic. Now I know.”
Obama realizes that the “violent extremism” he deplores comes overwhelmingly from people who claim to be acting in fidelity to Islam or who say they’re avenging the prophet.
While violence may not be an intrinsic to Islam, let’s not fool ourselves. Violence is endemic among the adherent of Islam, whether if be honor killings, murders for apostasy, or garden variety terrorism. To say so is not libel, it is an empirical observation.
We’re also seeing the old “if we say Islamic extremism what do we do about the Saudis?” defense:
Galston argues that it is not just a problem of nomenclature, an unwillingness to apply a label that might offend and is overly broad; he says it exposes a lack of strategic focus, and potentially weakens the government’s hand in the fight. “If you’re willing to use the phrase, then you can focus government resources on the ideological struggle against a named foe,” he says, adding that, “One of the reasons there’s so much craziness, the Saudis have spent upwards of $100 billion to disseminate it (Wahhabism), building mosques, supplying teachers and training imams. They’ve done a very good job of channeling internal dissent outward.
Are we prepared as part of this united front against violent extremism inspired by a misguided interpretation of Islam, are we prepared to confront the Saudis who have played a central role in spreading these tenets?”
Like matter and anti-matter, those two rationales cannot exist in the same space at the same time. Either the administration is correct, and ISIS and al Qaeda and Boko Haram, etc. are not really adherents of Islam (this according to Pope Barrack) but just a bunch of crazies who hang out at the same mosques, or the Saudis, and Islam as practiced by millions and millions of people, are a problem.
Unless the administration is at least as willing as the unwilling George Bush administration to confront the problem by giving it a name, we are wasting out time fighting ISIS and terrorism.