Cheap Seats 2016
By Rich Trzupek
There are times when I think that Barack Obama is not just an ideologue whose ideology I strongly disagree with, but is – to put it charitably – not the brightest bulb in the pack. (This view, by the by, coincides with those of a couple of acquaintances who served in the Illinois Senate with then state senator Obama, describing him as a pleasant fellow, but something of an empty suit).
The President’s remarks following the massacre in Orlando is one of those cases that makes me question Obama’s intelligence, but perhaps go a long way to explaining his refusal to release his college transcripts.
He referred to the Orlando shooter (I refuse to contribute to the fame of monsters like the shooter by using his given name) as a “violent extremist”. But what, pray tell, is the nature of the “extremism” that motivated the shooter to engage in violence? Surely that would be a valuable piece of information, for if we know what the motivation was, then perhaps we can take steps to prevent other “extremists” from engaging in similar acts of violence.
Of course we all know, and President Obama knows, what brand of extremism motivated the Orlando shooter: radical Islam. And that’s the issue that brought out the anger in President Obama, as he once against lectured the nation as though the citizens he is supposed to be leading are a collection of drooling morons.
He wasn’t angry at radical Islamists, because he can’t identify them as such, he was rather angry at people who want him to identify radical Islam as the Orlando shooter’s motivation for carrying out mass murder. He didn’t see any value to using the term, he said, and nor did any of his advisors. (Note to self: get new advisors). He said using the term would offer legitimacy to groups like ISIS who “…want to claim that they are the true leaders of over a billion Muslims … who reject their crazy notions.”
Two things. First, I think that the vast majority of Muslims – perhaps not over a billion, but certainly the vast majority – do reject ISIS and its crazy notions. The flip side of that is that there are undoubtedly millions of Muslims who support ISIS, either by actively fighting or providing aid and comfort to jihadis, or who are sympathetic to the goals of ISIS: a new caliphate and the world-wide imposition of Sharia law. Millions is a number that matters, no matter how much of minority those millions represent.
Second, if you have a crazy minority who want to kill infidels, destroy their society and create a world-wide theocracy that kills homosexuals and makes women property, then distinguishing that insane minority from the tolerant majority by use of a qualifier like “radical” is a good thing.
I’m a Catholic. When somebody refers to the awful, hatefully-homophobic lunatics belonging to the Westboro Baptist Church as “fundamentalist Christians” or “extremist fundamentalist Christians”, or with any other pejorative qualifier in front of “Christian”, I am grateful. Those idiots get to claim to be Christians, just as you or I get to pick our names if we so choose, but as a mainstream Christian, I want there to be as much language in public discourse to distinguish those of us in the mainstream from these idiots.
Having spent more time in the Middle East than probably 99.9 percent of the non-military U.S. populace, I can tell you that the non-crazy Muslims in that part of the world feel the same way about their religion. They live in fear of the crazy fundamentalists and want the West to make the distinction, so that we can help them – as best we are able – to protect the peaceful majority from a substantial, violent minority.
The only reason I can think of that President Obama refuses to make that distinction is because he believes Americans are incapable of understanding it; that if we talk about that substantial minority using the term “Islam”, the faith it claims to truly represent, but attaching a qualifier to distinguish that claim as something unique and sinister – “radical” – Americans will immediately assume that all Muslims are radical Muslims.
That’s an amazing amount of stupidity to attribute to the nation that elected you. It also presupposes that it’s better to pander to or ignore an angry, disaffected, violent minority than it is to call them out. It says that, as President, Barack Obama is incapable of making people understand the difference between the fundamentalist, literal interpretation of the Quran that ISIS and other fundamentalists use to justify their atrocities from the reformist rejection of fundamentalism and theocratic rule that Mustafa Araturk so hopefully introduced into the Muslim world when, as President of Turkey, he abolished the caliphate and sharia law in 1924.
The words we use to identify the hateful enemy we face are not particularly important. Acknowledging that the hateful enemy exists, that their religiously-based motivations (however perverse) exist and if they achieved their goals many a minority individual that the modern, western world tries to protect would be subjugated or executed, are all issues of vital importance when we talk about radical Islam. I would hope that Barack Obama would be smart enough to figure out a way to express those ideas, no matter how stupid he thinks the rest of us are.