I’ll give one thing to State Department Spokeswoman Marie Harf: when backed into a corner, she sticks to her guns. She doesn’t allow anyone or anything to force her into self-reflection.
We knew already that Ms. Harf thought her “Jobs for Jihadis” quip – that terrorism, and specifically ISIS, attracts people because they can’t find other means of financial stability – was on the money, and that she considered herself just to be repeating the company line. But now, in a speech to what appears to be a group of journalism students, Ms. Harf would like to clarify that, not only was the reaction to her comment overblown, it was overblown because you are all a bunch of sexist, ageist rubes.
Now, far be it from me to defend people who say mean things on Twitter. That platform may be second only to YouTube comments in its utter inanity and potential for vicious virtual warfare of the words. But let’s make something crystal clear here: at no point was anyone saying that just Marie Harf was being wrongheaded about how groups like ISIS come to be. She was merely the person who vocalized the theory, albeit poorly, in a public forum that was easily accessible. She got raked over the coals simply because, as the State Department spokesperson speaking about State Department things, she was ultimately the person who had to put the ridiculous policy into words on cable television.
Not to mention, the reaction to the Jobs for Jihadis idea isn’t simply directed at Ms. Harf. The reactionary public made very clear that everyone who holds this belief is, to put it nicely, willfully ignorant. They’re not saying Marie Harf is an idiot. They’re saying the whole administration is. But here, as in most cases, the easiest way to dismiss criticism that jabs close to the heart is to explain it away with institutionalized prejudice: everyone just hates the ladies, #waronwomen, etc.