For years now, the GOP has had a war of words, of sorts, over the term ‘radical Islamic terrorism’ with President Obama and others on the left. The Republicans believe that the specific phrasing of that is totally vital to America being victorious against groups like ISIS and Al Qaeda in the Middle East. President Obama, by contrast, has insisted that term is actually toxic to any dialogue and changing of ‘hearts and minds’ amongst the people there. The reason he and others see the term as detrimental to winning this conflict in the long term is that if you call it ‘Islamic terror’ that you have, in effect, indicted all of Islam and all people who follow the Muslim faith.
To a certain segment of our population, that is just fine. Ironically, critics point out, the same people who are so adamant about using the term ‘radical Islamic terrorism’ balk at calling any atrocity committed by a white Christian to be labeled a ‘radical Christian terrorist’ or any labeling of it as ‘Christian’ or ‘terrorism.’ Those people are usually just written off as mentally ill or deranged.
See the difference?
And the truth is those people don’t represent what most Christians believe — just as people who cite Koran verses have nothing to do with Islam. That is why the terminology is inappropriate and inaccurate to Obama and others who won’t use the term. Throwing the word ‘radical’ in front of the religion doesn’t really let the religion off the hook. It implies that the religion is at fault, and this person is just ‘radically’ acting out what the rest secretly believe. Outside of KKK, Stormfront, and other radical groups, no one thinks Tim McVeigh or anyone who has brought violence in the self-proclaimed name of Christianity was actually a Christian.
The same applies to Islam — or any other faith for that matter.
Obama’s critics commonly claim that we can’t win if he won’t ‘name the enemy.’ Obama does plenty of naming, however. He will call them radicals, jihadists, terrorists as well as specifically name groups like ISIS and Al Qaeda. That IS naming your enemy. Calling it by the generic ‘radical Islamic terrorism’ is in a sense calling all followers of Islam a terrorist or a supporter of such terrorism.
Fox News contributor Jonah Goldberg, appearing on Brett Bair’s program, decided to try to flip the tables. Goldberg put the theory out that despite Obama not sing the term of ‘radical Islamic terrorism’ by distinguishing or suggesting that some terrorists may be self-radicalized vs being a ‘sleeper cell’ who was trained or sent by a group like ISIS, that he is somehow really admitting that all of Islam is to blame.
As he attempts to explain;
They always try to downplay connections. Lone wolves, packs of lone wolves, all these sorts of silly things. I understand that it fits a political narrative that Barack Obama wants to sustain that is becoming increasingly unsustainable, which is that we aren’t having terrorist attacks, that ISIS isn’t a threat to us, you are in more danger of falling in a bathtub than terrorism — always trying to downplay it — workplace violence at Fort Hood. What I don’t think the Obama administration understands is the more they do that, the more they reinforce another narrative — that maybe it’s actually Islam that is the problem. If these guys aren’t agents of ISIS and some foreign power that’s at war with us. And instead, these are just random Muslims that for whatever reason self-activate and declare war on us, then that’s completely contrary and really dangerous to another narrative that we got out of this White House.’
Let me quickly break down Goldberg’s word soup …
PREMISE — Goldberg contends that the White House wants to dismiss every terrorist attack if committed by a non-white person. They won’t call it terrorism. They won’t say it’s Islamic. They won’t assume in advance that ISIS or AQ ordered it.
RETORT — What the Whitehouse has actually done is thorough investigations that look at all possibilities. In the cases that have been found to be terrorism, even if self-radicalized, they have always ended up at that conclusion. The same as they have done for white Christian killers. On both sides, they have been fair and prudent. Obama has no problem using the words terrorism or ISIS. What he won’t do is convolute it all in ways that damn the whole faith and its followers.
PREMISE — In doing so (Goldberg’s false premise above about Obama not calling things what he insists they be called) what Obama is secretly doing (there always has to be a conspiracy, doesn’t there?) is admitting all of Islam is to blame. That is what those on the right want. Once we can just blame Islam, things like banning them from the USA become much easier and palatable to a wider segment. Profiling and unconstitutional methods become acceptable.
RETORT — No, he’s not.
A couple of other interesting notes from the Fox contributor’s statement …
Notice he says ‘self-activate’ vs ‘self-radicalize.’ This goes back to the fact that there is a certain segment of America’s population that believes that these aren’t really ‘radical’ Muslims, just ones who are acting on what they all really and truly believe. Goldberg then says that they are ‘declaring war on us.’ Goldberg sees each and every Muslim as a person who is just waiting to ‘declare war on the USA.’
The GOP, particularly the more conservative circles, has become so frustrated with Obama not allowing them to lead him by the nose and put their words into his mouth that now they are trying to insinuate that he really does believe what they believe and are just not admitting they are right by using the term. Goldberg finishes up by saying that these contradictory things are the true danger. If Obama would just say ‘radical Islamic terrorism’ all would be well.
Of course, that is nonsense. What Obama and others who aren’t paranoid do is distinguish who is who. They look at all the possibilities before drawing conclusions. They can see that anyone can take a holy book, grab a few out of context lines and use them for their own sick purposes. That does NOT make them a follower of that religion. People who bomb or shoot up abortion clinics are not Christians just as people who shoot up nightclubs are not real Muslims. Both are terrorists.
Jumping to conclusions before all facts are in and lumping together people indiscriminately does not make one tough or strong. It makes them impetuous and child-like. In trying to twist the President’s views to fit his narrative and newly created talking point, all Goldberg did was show the weakness in his side’s argument and unfortunately, attitude. Fortunately, we have a President who can distinguish things and recognize differences — at least for now.
Check out Goldberg’s clever twist of reality below;
Featured image via screen capture from youtube.com