President Barack Obama’s failure to use the word “Islam” to describe Islamic terrorists does nothing to promote peace or security, and only serves to confuse and obfuscate the terrible horror caused by some Muslims in the name of Islam.
President Barack Obama, speaking at his summit on countering violent extremism Wednesday, denied the U.S. is at war with Islam, while refusing to identify the Islamic State as being Islamic.
In his remarks Obama argued that using the term “Islamic” to describe the Islamic State grants the terrorists legitimacy:
Al Qaeda and ISIL and groups like it are desperate for legitimacy. They try to portray themselves as religious leaders…They propagate the notion that America, and the West generally, is at war with Islam. That’s how they recruit. That’s how they try to radicalize young people.
We must never accept the premise that they put forward, because it is a lie, nor should we grant these terrorists the religious legitimacy that they seek. They are not religious leaders, they are terrorists. And we are not at war with Islam. We are at war with people who have perverted Islam.
Obama seems to assume that being a religious leader and being a terrorist are mutually exclusive. They are not.
As for “perverted Islam” – one man’s perversion may very well be another man’s orthodoxy.
Obama provided a preview of his speech on violent extremism Wednesday via a Los Angeles Times op-ed. There Obama wrote:
Obama may be well meaning, but he is wrong. There is no one “true” Islam. The Islamic State has just as much a legitimate claim to the title “true Islam” as does the so-called moderate Muslims Obama favors.
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.
Obama is not the arbiter of “true” Islam. In reality, there is no true version of Islam. There are, instead, competing interpretations of Islam. And like it or not, the Islamic State is putting forth a robust and hideously successful interpretation of Islam.
Obama’s consistent denial of the simple truth that the Islamic State and its supporters promote a legitimate expression of Islam is ultimately dishonest, and detrimental to clear thinking about a pressing issue of profound international import.
Claiming the Islamic State is not Islamic will not change the tautological fact that the Islamic State is Islamic.
More importantly, those Muslims that support the Islamic State, those Muslims who advocate interpretations of Islam compatible with Islamic terrorism, are at war with the West, at war with modernity, at war with the secular values which make our way of life, our liberty, our freedom, possible.