On Tuesday, President Obama indulged in a particularly inane rant against those who take him to task for refusing to call the actions of self-proclaimed radical Islamists – from Fort Hood to Boston to Paris to San Bernardino and, now, to Orlando – for what they are. “What exactly would using this label accomplish?” he asked. Declaring that no strategy has been compromised by not using the term, Obama insisted that there is no military or tactical value in bothering about the language used to identify the enemy. To suggest otherwise is, to our President, simply “political distraction.” Actually, he suggests, it’s much worse than that.
Obama insisted that calling Muslims who commit terrorism in the name of their faith “radical Islamists” only plays into the hands of those same terrorists, aiding in their venture to start a war between Islam and the West. Making the extraordinary claim that using such terms validates the claim of groups like ISIL and al Qaeda that they represent all Muslims by “implying that they speak for those billion-plus people”, Obama warned the U.S. not to “fall into the trap of painting all Muslims with a broad brush and imply that we are at war with an entire religion.” To do so would be to do the terrorist’s work for them.
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Marc LiVecche is the managing editor of Providence and Scholar of Christian Ethics, War, & Peace at the Institute on Religion and Democracy.
Photo Credit: President Barack Obama receives an update in the Oval Office from FBI Director James Comey and Homeland Security Advisor Lisa Monaco on the mass shooting in Orlando, Florida, June 12, 2016. Photo by official White House photographer Pete Souza via Flickr.