David Horowitz–Obama’s Question: What’s in a Name?

President Barack Obama speaks at the Treasury Department in Washington, Tuesday, June 14, 2016, following a meeting with his National Security Council to get updates on the investigation into the attack in Orlando, Florida and review efforts to degrade and destroy ISIL. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
AP Photo/Susan Walsh

Obama is angry. Not at the terrorists, mind you, but at Donald Trump and those who criticize him for calling our enemies “extremists” (like the Sandy Hook and Aurora shooters) instead of “radical Islamic terrorists,” which is what they are.

“Radical Islamic terrorist” is not a strategy, says the president. But it is the necessary step in creating one. Obama wants to treat our enemies as individual criminals, lone wolves and nut jobs. Since he is the commander-in-chief, he defines the policy parameters under which our military and intelligence agencies operate.

The Orlando murderer was interviewed by the FBI, which discovered his associations with radical Islamic terrorists, and jihadist sympathies, but dropped him off the radar because the FBI was looking for crimes which he hadn’t (yet) committed. If on the other hand the FBI had been looking for soldiers in a war conducted by radical Islamic terrorists, they would have kept him on the radar and extended their investigation until maybe they would have saved 50 innocent lives.

The Achilles heel of democratic societies is also their foundation — the principle of tolerance we extend even to those who want to destroy us.1 It is therefore also a central strategy of the Islamists to take advantage of this vulnerability. Using defamatory expressions like “bigotry” and “Islamophobia,” they, and what Lenin called the “useful idiots” on our side, stigmatize those who attempt to draw attention to the political nature of their movement, its imperialistic ambitions, its terroristic methods, its oppression of women, its hostility to other creeds, and its virulent Jew-hatred.

To point out these elements of Islamism is to persecute Muslims. By casting themselves as victims, the Islamists have succeeded to a remarkable extent in censoring and marginalizing their critics. Until Donald Trump came along.

But until now, the Islamists’ success has been impressive. It is most striking in the self-censorship that agencies of the American government have imposed on themselves and on the institutional guides for America’s first responders to the threat they pose. The 9/11 Commission Report on the Islamic attacks on New York and Washington in September 2001 referred to “Islam” 322 times, used the word “Muslim” 145 times, and “jihad” (holy war) 126 times. But even after those attacks, and even though Osama bin Laden had declared his mission to be a religious war against “the Jews and Crusaders,” the Bush administration designated its response merely as a “War on Terror” without any reference to Islam.

This omission was designed to avoid offending Muslims who did not support the jihad or giving ammunition to Democrats who insisted on treating acts of Islamic terror as crimes by individual “extremists.” By using the neutered term “terror” to describe the Islamist threat, the administration obscured not only the religious nature of the war that had been declared on us, but the fact that the Islamists did not confine their tactics to military strikes and also pursued their goals through sophisticated political movements specifically designed to infiltrate societies they regarded as “infidel,” and subvert them.2

At the end of more than a decade of pressure from the left, the religious nature of the war had become practically invisible, even to American counterterrorism organizations. In the words of a Rep. Louis Gohmert, a congressional critic of this self-censorship:

The current FBI counterterrorism lexicon, [which describes] the language they can use, does not include “jihad,” does not include “Muslim,” does not include “Islam.” It includes “violent extremism” many times, but it does not include “sharia” [the Islamic law jihadists are seeking to impose globally]. It does not even include “Al-Qaeda,” “Hezbollah,” or “Hamas.” Even the National Intelligence Strategy 2009 does not include references to “jihad,” “Muslim,” or “Islam.”3

When Obama took office in 2009, he instituted even more changes to shield not only the public but also the Department of Homeland Security and counter-intelligence agencies from the fact that the war against us was based on an ideology shared by millions (and probably hundreds of millions) of devout Muslims and sponsored by Islamic regimes (there are 10 Muslim countries where the punishment for homosexuality, for example, is death). Or from the fact that it was a war at all.

Under Obama, even the denatured term “War on Terror” was dropped from official pronouncements and replaced by a meaningless Orwellian subterfuge: “overseas contingency operations.” The Obama administration designated the largest post-9/11 attack on American soil, the 2009 massacre of 13 American soldiers by a jihadist screaming, “Allahu Akbar,” as “workplace violence.” And to this day, Obama has to be dragged kicking and screaming to the podium before he will recognize that a terrorist act has been committed, and even then, he has to deny that it has anything whatsoever to do with Islam, and anybody who says it does is a bigot.

People wonder why terrorist attacks by Islamists have escalated on Obama’s watch globally and have finally come home. They need look no further than the ostrich-like denials by the commander-in-chief or his swift pivots when talking about heinous Muslim acts against innocents to worrying about the persecution of those who share their faith.

1 Cf. Leszek Kolakowski, “The Self-Poisoning of the Open Society,” in Modernity On Endless Trial, 1990, pp.162-174

2 Rep. Louie Gohmert, remarks to the David Horowitz Freedom Center, May 4, 2013; https://frontpagemag.com/2013/frontpagemag-com/congressman-louie-gohmert-the-islamist-enemy-within/;Robert Spencer, The Stealth Jihad: How Radical Islam Is Subverting America Without Guns or Bombs, 2008; Andrew C. McCarthy, The Grand Jihad: How Islam and the Left Sabotage America, 2010; cf. David Horowitz and Robert Spencer, “Islamophobia,” in this volume

3 Rep. Louie Gohmert, op. cit.


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