Jerry Falwell calls himself a Christian but has no problem with a lying, corrupt, thrice-divorced non-believing president who refuses to call out domestic terrorism when he sees it.
On Sunday’s edition of This Week, the right-wing evangelical leader tried to excuse Donald Trump’s weak “many sides” response to the hate in Charlottesville. ABC’s Martha Raddatz wasn’t having it and grilled him within an inch of his life.
“Last year in an op-ed, you criticized Barack Obama over his handling of ISIS,” she declared, referring to Jerry Falwell’s statement of support for Donald Trump in the Washington Post on August 18, 2016.
“His policies had the intended or unintended effect … of breathing life into the lungs of the terrorist group. President Obama and Hillary Clinton most definitely signaled to Islamic State leaders that they had no intention of seriously challenging them, or even of calling radical Islamic terrorism by its name.”
“If that is what you believe,” Martha Raddatz challenged him, “Then is President Trump making the same mistake by not unequivocally calling out domestic terrorism?” But Jerry Falwell insisted the GOP’s president is “doing just that.” He then doubled down by saying, “He’s doing exactly the opposite of what I was criticizing Obama and Clinton for not doing. He’s calling them by their name. He’s calling the Nazi white supremacists evil…”
No, actually, he didn’t.
— Good Morning America (@GMA) August 14, 2017
“He’s not calling it Domestic terrorism,” Martha Raddatz interrupts. “The president said Tuesday, ‘you can call it terrorism, you can call it murder, you can call it whatever you want. Why hasn’t he called the attack in Charlottesville domestic terrorism?” Falwell replied, “He did.” But then qualified it by adding, “He said it’s something for the officials to determine. ‘Call it want you want, he said the driver of that car is nothing but a murderer.’ How clear–”
Martha Raddatz interrupted to point out, “He’s the president.” But Jerry Falwell merely repeated, “How clear can he be? I don’t understand.” Finally, she snapped and declared, “He could be clear by calling it domestic terrorism.” She then asked, “So you don’t think he needs to do that because other officials have said it? Words matter. he was the one who was criticizing — and you too — President Obama for not calling it ‘Islamic terrorism.'”
“He did,” Jerry Falwell insisted. “He said, ‘You can call it terrorism, you can call it evil,’ I’m not sure what his words were, but he never said it was not. He left the door open.” But leaving the door open isn’t the same as calling out what the white supremacists in Charlottesville as domestic terrorists.
Watch: Martha Raddatz grills Jerry Falwell over Donald Trump’s refusal to call out domestic terrorism.
Barack Obama’s refusing to use the phrase “Islamic terrorism” is nothing like Donald Trump’s refusing to call out domestic terrorism.
Once again, the Right is engaging in false equivalence. Using the term “Islamic terrorists” amounts to stereotyping peaceful, law-abiding Muslims in the U.S. as terrorists so hate groups feel free to attack them. Meanwhile, the term “Domestic terrorism” merely refers to acts of terror committed by terrorists whose ideologies come from the U.S.
Right-wingers keep trying to distract from the issue of domestic terrorism by referring to the previous president refusing to use the term “Islamic terrorism.” But one has absolutely nothing to do with the other. Barack Obama condemned acts of terrorism by Muslim extremists and took forceful action against them. He’s the one who had Osama Bin Laden taken down, remember? But the former president had a good reason for not calling acts of terrorism inspired by ISIS and other terror groups: He didn’t want to condemn all Muslims for the acts of a small percent of extremists. Last year CNN reported he explained groups like al Qaeda and ISIL have “perverted and distorted and tried to claim the mantle of Islam.”
In other words, our former president sought to protect our Muslim communities from the hatred of those who claim they’re all terrorists. Meanwhile, Donald Trump denies domestic terrorism is an issue so he can withhold protection from groups targeted by white supremacists.