Over at The New Republic, Brian Beutler has written an article about what he alleges is the Republican obsession with radical Islam.
It’s about one would expect from left-wing thinking on the subject. Beutler writes, “Democratic unease with this language is almost entirely a function of strategic, rather than empathic, thinking—a reflection of the greater seriousness with which the party treats national security and foreign affairs than Republicans.”
The Democratic Party has treated national security and foreign affairs with the seriousness which has left us with the Iran nuclear deal, red lines in Syria which were unceremoniously erased, a Secretary of State who just uttered there was a rationale and a legitimacy to the Charlie Hebdo murders and a President who declared that ISIS had been contained. Did Beutler actually write that sentence with a straight face?
Beutler defends Hillary Clinton’s argument in last Saturday night’s Democrat presidential candidates debate that the United States is fighting violent extremism, not radical Islam:
Clinton stipulated instead that we’re at war with “jihadists.” She could perhaps have beat Republicans at their own faux-specificity game by referring to them as “Salafist Jihadists.” But her point is clear: Nobody disputes that the perpetrators of the attacks in France were Muslim, but insisting on a rote connection between jihadis and the religion they claim makes it harder for the U.S. to enlist non-jihadi Muslims into the fight against terrorism.
But it is President Obama who says, “ISIL isn’t Islamic.” Violent extremism isn’t an end, but a means. ISIS has established an Islamic caliphate in Syria and is seeking extend it to the rest of the world whether we like it or not. To suggest that the actions of ISIS in Paris last week aren’t connected to that end is pure deception and dishonesty.
But if using terms like “radical Islam” harm our ability to recruit moderate Muslims on our side then why haven’t they been flocking to President Obama? After all, it is President Obama who stopped using “war on terror” in favor of “overseas contigency operation”. It is Obama Administration who declared the Fort Hood shootings an act of “workplace violence”, not terrorism. It is the Obama Administration, who for nearly seven years, has said we are not at war with Islam. And yet the Muslim world is turning away from us and towards Vladimir Putin. The Iran nuclear deal hasn’t helped matters nor has his inability to enforce his own red line in Syria. Indeed, two years ago, Obama went as far as to say he never set a red line. Words are very important, but they don’t mean much unless they are backed up with action.
What Beutler neglects to point out with regard to Hillary’s declaration that we are not at war with Islam was debate moderator John Dickerson who said of Marco Rubio’s comments, “He didn’t say all Muslims. He just said radical Islam.”
If John Dickerson can understand the distinction then surely so can moderate or non-jihadist Muslims like Egyptian President al-Sisi who this past New Year’s Day called for “a religious revolution” while beseeching his fellow Muslims to re-examine their thinking:
It’s inconceivable that the thinking that we hold most sacred should cause the entire umma [Islamic world] to be a source of anxiety, danger, killing and destruction for the rest of the world. Impossible!
That thinking—I am not saying “religion” but “thinking”—that corpus of texts and ideas that we have sacralized over the centuries, to the point that departing from them has become almost impossible, is antagonizing the entire world. It’s antagonizing the entire world!
Is it possible that 1.6 billion people [Muslims] should want to kill the rest of the world’s inhabitants—that is 7 billion—so that they themselves may live? Impossible!
If President al-Sisi can speak with candor with regard to the current state of Islam then why shouldn’t America do the same?
Beutler goes on to justify his argument against the invocation of the term radical Islam by bringing up the discredited 2009 DHS report on so-called “right-wing extremism”:
When word broke, conservatives were apoplectic. They attributed some of their outrage to the fact that the report identified reintegrating veterans as a potential source of violence. But their objection to a focus on “right-wing” extremists contributed to their grievance in equal or greater measure.
The right’s objection wasn’t so much to the government studying violent internal threats, but to the association the report drew between those threats and right-wing politics.
The phenomenon extends outside the realm of violent extremism, too. Liberals and conservatives frequently disagree about what constitutes racism, but there is a strong bipartisan consensus in the country that overt racism is anathema. Conservatives take incredible umbrage at any linkage—whether justified or trumped up—between conservatism and extant racism in America for precisely this reason. Call Dylan Storm Roof a neo-Nazi, nobody will object. Call him a right-wing extremist, and conservatives will balk. Some will take great offense.
Conservatives were absolutely right to be apoplectic. Although Beutler says the report was commissioned during the Bush Administration, its content revolved around our current President. The report stated, “Rightwing extremists are harnessing this historical election as a recruitment tool.” The report did not cite a single organization who did any such thing.
The Left has spent much of the Obama Administration trying to tie the Tea Party to acts of violence such as the Tucson shootings and in the case of David Axelrod, to the Boston Marathon bombing. Then comes Dylann Roof and his Confederate flag. Never mind that Jim Crow has deep roots in the Democratic Party. Never mind that it was Ernest Hollings, the Democrat Governor of South Carolina (later Senator and presidential candidate) who erected the Confederate flag on the grounds of the legislature. The Bill Mahers of the world wasted no time in blaming conservatives for Roof’s evil act.
Beutler is basically arguing that for Republicans to tie ISIS to radical Islam is like the Left tying conservatives to white supremacists. But his analogy simply doesn’t hold water. ISIS praised the bombers for their acts and did so in the name of Islam. ISIS declared, “Allah granted victory upon their hands and cast terror into the hearts of the crusaders in their very own homeland.” Those at the Bataclan were described by ISIS as “hundreds of pagans gathered for a concert of prostitution and vice.”
Could Beutler please tell me which Republican leaders praised the acts of Dylann Roof and said the congregants of the Emanuel AME Church deserved to die while in prayer? Could Beutler please tell me how Roof’s acts are in any way connected to the ideas of William F. Buckley, Milton Friedman or Ronald Reagan? Could Beutler tell me how Roof’s acts were done in the name of advancing the aims and objectives of American conservatism?
Let me sum up the term radical Islam this way. Not all Muslims are members of ISIS, but all members of ISIS are Muslim.