Terror and Oratory: What Is the Right Thing To Say?
The reactions to the Orlando massacre show everything that is wrong with our campaign against the jihad. President Barack Obama in his first remarks conveyed anguish, but not anger. He identified the terrorist's motivation as "hatred," and, in order to underline his point, he repeated the word "hate" a couple of times. But he did not choose to define the particular hatred at hand. This is the Islamist ideology that wishes to exterminate large portions of the human race for theological reasons: the gays (as in this instance), the Jews, the Muslim miscreants and "hypocrites," the Muslim heretics (Shia and others, who of course have suffered the most horribly from terrorist attacks), and so forth. Obama has never discussed this ideology. He is opposed to discussing it. Sometimes he mentions "extremism," but he has never bothered to define "extremism," either.
Donald Trump in his response on Sunday demonstrated why he is such a formidable political figure. He exploded in anger at Obama, and the display of emotion was striking for how rare it is, among America's political leaders. He called on Obama to resign because of his failure to say the words "radical Islam," which was preposterous. But Trump managed at least to look like a man who was pounding the table. His point about failing to say the words might almost seem to be persuasive, if only Trump himself knew how to say those words with a reasonable degree of intelligent nuance. But he does not. He ends up railing at the entire Muslim world, which means at our best allies, too. In Afghanistan since well before Sept. 11, 2001, Afghani soldiers have been fighting and dying every day in the grueling effort to defeat the Taliban. And yet, because Omar Mateen was the son of Afghani immigrants, Trump took the occasion to denounce virtually the entire population of Afghanistan.
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