Earlier this week, I made the case that unless President Obama’s Summit on Countering Violent Extremism would be a complete waste of time unless he was willing to state that the violent extremism we are trying to counter is caused by an ideology based on Islam subscribed to by a small, but critical mass of Muslims.
Well, President Obama has penned an op-ed in The Los Angeles Times and nothing he has written inspires confidence. Here are five observations of the op-ed.
1. I find it interesting that Obama chose to submit his piece to the L.A. Times. This would be the same newspaper that has kept his 2003 tribute to PLO appartichik Rashid Khalidi, a man who has justified Palestinian suicide bombings, under lock and key during both the 2008 and 2012 campaigns. Why doesn’t the public have the right to know what he said? Obama’s condemnations of violent extremism ring hollow when he pays tribute to a man who praises such acts.
2. Obama does finally acknowledge that Egyptian Christians were murdered by ISIS after the White House only identified the 21 men who were beheaded over the weekend as Egyptian citizens. But Obama still won’t acknowledge the anti-Semitic portion of the attacks last month in Paris and this past weekend in Copenhagen. I guess he has Bibi on the brain.
3. Obama writes:
In the face of this challenge, we must stand united internationally and here at home. We know that military force alone cannot solve this problem. Nor can we simply take out terrorists who kill innocent civilians. We also have to confront the violent extremists — the propagandists, recruiters and enablers — who may not directly engage in terrorist acts themselves, but who radicalize, recruit and incite others to do so.
But what exactly is being propagated by the propagandists? Whether you call it violent extremism or terrorism, these are not ends unto themselves. These tactics are deployed towards a larger goal which in this case is the establishment of an Islamic caliphate. We cannot triumph over our enemies unless we are prepared to acknowledge their aims and objectives.
4. Take a look at this passage:
Groups like al Qaeda and ISIL promote a twisted interpretation of religion that is rejected by the overwhelming majority of the world’s Muslims. The world must continue to lift up the voices of Muslim clerics and scholars who teach the true peaceful nature of Islam.
If the Muslim community at large is full of sober thought then why does the White House welcome to thethe likes of Muslim Public Affairs Council founder Salam al-Marayati to this summit? Shortly after the 9/11 attacks, al-Marayati speculated that Israel may have been involved. (h/t Michael Warren of The Weekly Standard).
Does the Obama Administration believes al-Marayati’s interpretation of 9/11 to be twisted? Surely, al-Marayati is not alone in this thought. How can the Muslim community combat violent extremism within their community if they believe Jews to be responsible for it?
5. Obama states that American pluralism “has at times been threatened by hateful ideologies and individuals from various religions” citing the shooting at the Sikh Temple in Wisconsin in 2012 and last year’s shooting at a Jewish Community Center in Kansas. It’s true that non-Muslims occasionally target religious minorities they do not comprise the global movement that al Qaeda and ISIS have become. Violence committed in the name of Islam and in the name of Muhammad is a global problem. President Obama can insist that we are not at and never will be at war with Islam all he wants. It doesn’t mean that Islam, or at least a significant portion of it, isn’t at war with us.
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