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Tuesday, June 14, 2016

What we talk about when we talk about terrorism

I've seen a lot of stuff on Facebook about how the Left is all bleeding-hearted about radical Islam and refuses to blame radical Islam for the attack at Pulse Night Club, and it leaves me wondering if there's something of a breakdown in communication.
So first, let's talk about the words "radical Islamic terrorism." Obama refuses to use those words, which his opponents claim is because he doesn't want to acknowledge that terrorists follow Islam. However, here's how Obama explained the policy in a speech at the Summit on Countering Violent Extremism:
We are not at war with Islam. We are at war with people who have perverted Islam... They try to portray themselves as religious leaders — holy warriors in defense of Islam. 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’re terrorists.
We could debate the usefulness of this semantic tap dance in the face of a cabal of pure murderous evil, but what is not up for debate is the left's willingness to acknowledge the fact that terrorists like Omar Mateen embrace a radical form of Islam. We are all on the same page there.
I think that a lot of liberals, like me, are cautious in the way we talk about the radical Muslims behind terror attacks because most Americans don't seem to understand the difference between a radical Islamic terrorist and a person with brown skin. Every time an Islamic extremist carries out a terror attack, a spike in anti-Muslim hate crime follows, and the victims of those crimes are often not even Muslim.
I've also seen some memes on Facebook comparing the self-proclaimed Islamic State to Nazis, as if that's a case that needs to be made. I don't think that's a fair comparison. The so-called Islamic State seems significantly more evil to me, and much more dangerous. They have begun genocide campaigns against too many religious and ethnic groups to count. They torture and behead and rape and slaughter and force children to kill their families and inflict every evil imaginable on the innocent. Anyone on the Left who claims otherwise clearly hasn't read ISIS's own propaganda materials, in which they brag about doing just that.
However, some folks think that ISIS and Islam are the same thing. In fact, ISIS has declared that any Muslim who doesn't hold to their insane interpretation of scripture is an infidel who doesn't deserve to live. Most of ISIS's victims, in fact, have been other Muslims who belong to what it deems the wrong sects or ethnic groups.
Another mistaken belief I often see on Facebook is that Obama and the Democrats don't believe we should bomb ISIS. Actually, since 2014, America has carried out thousands of airstrikes against ISIS targets, killing about 26,000 ISIS fighters so far. The Left understands just how evil and dangerous ISIS is and they have taken action on this.

A great way to help ISIS out, if you're interested in doing so, is to lump all Muslims in with them. The vast majority of Muslims, especially Muslims in the United States, do not follow ISIS's interpretation of scripture and therefore deserve to suffer. And ISIS also knows that the more oppressed and marginalized Sunni Muslims feel, the more likely they are, like Omar Mateen, to become radicalized.
We all hate feeling powerless when tragedies like this occur. We think that hate and suspicion and retribution will make us feel safe again, but they won't. Hate can only beget more hate. You want to feel less powerless - have the audacity to love with all your heart. Speak out against hatred and bigotry. Stand up and speak even when you are quaking in fear. Love with all the fight left in your body. It seems like so little, but it is everything.

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