On Monday, March 14, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed Resolution 75, which declares and condemns, in the clearest of language, that the Islamic State has committed acts of genocide against Assyrian Christians and Yezidis in Iraq and Syria.
On March 17, after much pressure from the Congress as well as a number of groups, Secretary of State John Kerry grudgingly announced that “in my judgment,” ISIS is committing acts of genocide against Yezidis, Christians and Muslims in Iraq and Syria. This is a welcome statement, and taken with HR 75, should serve as the collective equivalent of the U.S. putting its foot down and resolving to finally crush ISIS.
But despite the acknowledgement of Islamic State genocide by Secretary Kerry, the Obama administration has stubbornly refused to formulate a concrete strategy to destroy these perpetrators of genocide. The question being asked by an increasingly indignant America is, of course, “Why?”
Officially, the administration has done a masterful job of dragging its feet on doing anything about ISIS, pondering its options and working with a coalition of nations to minimize its individual responsibility. Now that Secretary Kerry has acknowledged that ISIS is committing genocide, however, the pressure to do something will increase exponentially.
From its earliest days, ISIS has announced to the world through videos, publications and pronouncements that it intended to make war on all “people of the cross,” and to take the fight all the way to Vatican City, the heart of Western Christianity.
President Obama’s passivity toward ISIS has nothing to do with a lack of evidence of ISIS making good on its threats of genocide. Unfortunately for the Yezidis, Assyrian Christians and Shia Muslims of Iraq and Syria, for nearly five years ISIS has been tremendously successful at terrorizing and killing their way across northern Iraq and Syria, with the express intention of eradicating whole peoples, especially Christians and Yezidis, from the region.
Having traveled extensively in Iraq and into Syria, I have personally spoken with hundreds of Yezidi and Assyrian Christian refugees. Each and every one of them made it clear that the message given by ISIS was “If we catch you, we will kill you.” The reality of this message is underscored by the fact that all Yezidis and Christians have been driven from ISIS-controlled areas.
President Obama has repeatedly proclaimed that ISIS is not “Islamic,” and that the violence and massacre they bring has nothing to do with “Islam.” Yet this flies in the face of the evidence, since violence has been the preferred method of proselytism among Muslims since the beginning of the movement. Within 25 years after the death of Muhammad in 632 AD, Muslims began murdering one another, with all the usual horrors of beheadings and torture on a grand scale. The chief perpetrators of this original terror were a 7th-century purist group called the Kharijite who, as forerunners of the Ottoman Turks and ISIS, would even cut open the belly of a pregnant woman and run the child through with a sword as a means of enforcing their control of a region and their interpretation of Islam.
When one points out this uncomfortable, historical fact – namely, that Islam has, since its very inception, been murdering its way across the Middle East and a good part of Europe in an effort to liquidate groups that it opposes – one is immediately labeled “Islamophobic” and instructed that genocidal jihad is not the “real Islam.”
The reason the Obama administration cannot do anything against ISIS despite its impotent declarations of an ISIS genocide is, in part, to the president’s political timidity. Phrases describing President Obama’s approach to the Middle East as an “apology tour” and “leading from behind” are so common as to have lost their sting, yet they are frustratingly true.
This hand-wringing in place of foreign policy aside, there is a deeper, more serious reason why we are not likely to see President Obama take action against ISIS. President Obama, Kerry and others in positions of power suffer from what the British journalist Douglas Murray identified as “Islamophilia”: the unconditional love of all things Islamic. This condition leads to irrational behavior, such as seeing Islam as a religion of peace even when its actions demonstrate over and again that it is not. Islam has never had a “golden age” during which it got along with its neighbors, and to insist the contrary rings as true as Celtic stories about Leprechauns.
Islamophilia causes a moral paralysis, in which sufferers like President Obama may acknowledge Islamic genocide and yet will doing nothing about it. One of the most pronounced and deleterious symptoms of this incapacity of the mind is to shift the blame from ISIS thugs to “Western Imperialism,” or US “interference” in the Middle East. Yet the plain fact is that Muslim aggression predates the United States by centuries, and is the longest-running and most brutal imperialism in history, especially under the Ottoman Turks.
The State Department’s reluctant acknowledgment of ISIS’ genocidal behavior offers a window of opportunity for action, but this will not happen without the engagement of the American people. Currently there are a few petitions going around aimed at persuading President Obama to directly terminate the Islamic State.
Sign one, send it to the administration, and tell them that now that America acknowledges that genocide exists, it is time to act.
Jeff Gardner is Director of Operations for Restore Nineveh Foundation.