There is a deep and unacknowledged irony to the fact that US President Barack Obama, of all people, has opined in the days since the terror attack in Orlando that how you term things makes no difference.
(Article by Judith Bergman)
“What exactly would using this label [‘radical Islam’] accomplish? … Calling a threat by a different name does not make it go away. This is a political distraction,” Obama said on Tuesday in response to the heavy criticism poured on him after he, once more, refused to use the term in connection with the mass shooting. Islamic State quickly claimed responsibility for the attack, perhaps frustrated that no one in the US administration, nor the Democratic presidential candidate, will give it credit for it.
Positing that calling something or someone a particular name makes no difference is the very epitome of hypocritical dissembling, especially coming from the person at the very top of the Democratic echelons.
These are the same people who for decades fought to entrench political correctness into American society, making it impossible to call certain things by their rightful names without facing a barrage of vilification and personal smears. The American Left has fought ceaselessly to shape language according to its ideas and has succeeded so tremendously that Americans are now afraid to report suspicious activity out of fear of coming across as “Islamophobic.” This has already cost lives. Before the attack, the security company that Omar Mateen worked for was afraid of reporting him, despite his suspicious behavior, exactly because it feared being castigated as “Islamophobic.”
The US has much to learn from Israel in this regard. Israel is so efficient at fighting terrorism precisely because it cannot afford the luxury of integrating political correctness into its security doctrines. The very idea is preposterous. Nevertheless, this is exactly what Obama has done.
Five years ago, Obama erased all references to Islam in the educational materials used to train the American law enforcement and national security communities. In 2011, US Deputy Attorney General James Cole confirmed that the Obama administration was recalling all its training materials to eliminate references to Islam that some Muslim groups had claimed were offensive.
In 2013, The Washington Times also reported that countless experts on Islamic terrorism had been banned from speaking to any US government counterterrorism conferences, including those of the FBI and CIA. Government agencies were instead ordered to invite Muslim Brotherhood front groups.
If it is only a matter of labels, then why has Obama endangered American lives by deliberately blindsiding law enforcement and national security communities on the nature of Islamic terrorism? How are they supposed to grapple with the urgent issue of jihad if they are prohibited from learning about the nature of jihad?
When Obama claims, as he did on Tuesday, that “there’s no magic to the phrase ‘radical Islam.’ If someone seriously thinks we don’t know who we’re fighting, if there’s anyone out there who thinks we’re confused about who our enemies are, that would come as a surprise to the thousands of terrorists we’ve taken off the battlefield,” he is simply dissembling. You cannot know an enemy when you prohibit your law enforcement and intelligence personnel from studying or even mentioning them.
These are all relevant questions that the mainstream media has consistently refused to ask the administration — instead, dangerously dismissing them as conspiracy theories. The price is now being paid by innocent Americans, from a Christmas party in San Bernardino to a gay nightclub in Orlando.
Words matter tremendously, and you cannot fight an enemy that you are forbidden to name. Imagine Churchill telling the British that there was “no magic” in calling out the Nazi ideology and prohibiting his intelligence community from studying Nazi Germany’s strategy and tactics.
Hillary Clinton, feeling the backlash after publishing identical statements to those of Obama, has now opportunistically declared that she is ready to say those “magical words.”
But this is meaningless pandering, especially when you know she was part of the administration that purged training materials of all things Islam.
“In my perspective, it matters what we do, not what we say,” Clinton said. “To me, radical jihadism, radical Islamism, I think they mean the same thing. I’m happy to say either, but that’s not the point.”
The administration pretends there is no Islamist threat. This is what it has firmly projected to its law enforcement and intelligence communities, and Clinton is of course fully aware of the intricate details of this fact. Stating that it matters “what we do” then becomes an empty and even dangerous statement, because it deludes Americans into believing that there is a solid and credible intelligence effort underway to prevent future Islamist terror attacks in the United States, when this cannot logically be the case given that the US law enforcement and intelligence communities are not allowed to study jihad or Islamic extremism.
Judith Bergman is a writer and political analyst living in Israel. Twitter: @judithbergman. This article was originally published by Israel Hayom.