Just as I said. Amir Taheri in the New York Post

The three-day White House conference on “violent extremism” exposed anew Obama’s inability or unwillingness to understand the challenge of Islamist terrorism, let alone to lead the fight against it.

The conference was billed as a global event bringing together people of different views from more than 60 countries. In practice, however, it acted more as an echo chamber for Obama’s politically correct approach.

“Violent extremism” is misleading, to say the least. (Is there extremism without violence?) The generic term obscures the fact that we face a specific form of terrorism rooted, nurtured and waged in the name of Islam.

Just exactly what I said. I said it on the 19th, Taheri said it on the 20th. No doubt I gave him the idea. (Kidding, kidding.)

Obama did defend his evasion: “Al Qaeda and ISIL [a k a ISIS] and groups like it . . . try to portray themselves as religious leaders, holy warriors in defense of Islam,” he said. “We must never accept the premise that they put forward, because it is a lie.” Operatives of al Qaeda and ISIS “are not religious leaders — they’re terrorists,” he said.

He says that as if the two are opposites, so opposite that it’s simply not possible to be both. That’s ridiculous. There have been many religious terrorists throughout history, and there are many of them now. The two are not opposites at all, but connected at the most basic level. The commands of religion are arbitrary, because there is no way to appeal them to their putative source. What could be more congenial to terrorism than arbitrary commands?


  1. k_machine says

    Yeah I’m sure harsh words will topple ISIS. “When you are about to kill a man, it costs nothing to be polite.” This is just standard diplomacy, you want to tread carefully so as to not piss of more people.

  2. quixote says

    I’m not sure Obama isn’t right that Islam is not the critical component. I am sure he’s wrong to be giving religious fanaticism a free pass. The fundies we have here are part of the same tribe. They just don’t have as much scope for action. And the more the powers-that-be refuse to see them for what they are, the more scope they’ll take.

  3. brucegee1962 says

    OK, hold on a minute. As I see it, we’ve got three options with ISIS:

    1. Do nothing whatsoever, and hope it falls apart on its own.
    2. Send in troops against it.
    3. Try to persuade nearby Arab nations to send in troops against it, with our support.

    It seems pretty obvious that the administration is trying to see if there’s any chance of pulling off option #3. That means it’s absolutely critical to convince everybody — especially the Arab street — that this is NOT a “war on Islam.” If you were in charge of implementing option #3, you’d be saying exactly the same thing they are.

    This isn’t a bunch of academic who can speak the truth with no consequences. Diplomacy often seems to be a process of building elaborate fictions (look at the status of Taiwan), and this is clearly one of those times.

  4. gmcard says

    Ophelia @ 2

    Diplomacy with the Muslim communities the administration is reaching out to, to get them to self-police radicalizing factions.

    Communities that have proven to tune out to this outreach when the topic is explicitly labeled Islamic Extremism, as they feel the West is conflating Islam with Islamists. Which given the Bush administration, or the people on Fox News going on about Holy War, should not be unexpected.

  5. RJW says

    Let’s hope that Obama is just spouting platitudes and that he really doesn’t believe what he said, actually terrorism has been a standard tactic of Islam from its inception. No amount of dissembling will alter that fact.
    Don’t politicians in liberal democracies understand, or are they trying not to scare the bejeezus out of the plebs.

  6. chrislawson says


    I think you’ve not quite got the point. I don’t think Obama should be making broad anti-Muslim statements either, but Ophelia was pointing out the error when he said that religious leaders cannot be terrorists, which is so abundantly ahistorical as to be almost a joke — and not just for Islam. He could easily have sent the same message by saying that people should reject religious leaders who promote terrorism — which would have been morally defensible, inclusive of the millions of Muslims who reject terrorism, and not a factual error.

  7. sonofrojblake says

    Ophelia was pointing out the error when he said that religious leaders cannot be terrorists

    Except, er… he didn’t say that.

  8. says

    My one quibble here is with his little aside: “(Is there extremism without violence?)”.

    It reads as though he’s taking for granted that the answer is a certain “no”, but in fact it’s an obvious “yes”. Of course there is. People who use violence in their attempts to achieve their aims are extremist pretty much by definition, but the reverse doesn’t hold true at all. It’s possible to hold perfectly disgusting, reactionary and oppressive opinions without the thought of committing acts of terrorism crossing one’s mind. In fact, hypothetically at least, it’s possible to imagine a non-violent person who has more extreme opinions than an actual terrorist. The ideology itself – what the person would actually like to see in their ideal world – is what ought to be the main factor when we decide whether or not they’re extremist, not (necessarily) the methods used.

    The conflation of extremism and terrorism is problematic, because there’s a risk of excusing extremist opinions as long as no violence is committed in their cause. “No, we’re not extremist because we don’t plan to kill anyone. It’s just that if we happened to have the power to do so, we’d quite like to lock up all the gays”. That’s still extremist.

    Most of you probably agree with this. That bit just struck me, that’s all.

  9. johnthedrunkard says

    Any attempt to soft-soap the Arab states by dodging the Islam issue is doomed. Islam is already at war with us. It has been since Mo was alive. The religion of peace managed to ‘defend’ itself all the way from Morocco to the Philippines, from South Africa to Vienna. The most aggressive and violent empire in human history.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *