World leaders did what they do best in the wake of the London attacks. They made trite assurances of unity, perseverance, and shared values. The very same remarks will be made after the next attack and the one after that. The war of words over something we know the name for only avoids facing the truth for the sake of not offending the religion of the killers.
Not holding Islam responsible when radical killers strike won’t bring a halt to terrorism. Until Trump took office tiptoeing around extremism was the solution to making us safe. The new attacks in London, Paris, and now Iran offer proof that our reluctance to offend the religion of extremists doesn’t make much of a difference. What’s to lose by offending people who already want to kill you?
Don’t offend killers religion, even if it kills you
Curiously, as the threat of ISIS grows we still choose our words carefully to avoid causing offense. Theresa May talked about a “perversion of Islam” after the London suicide bombing. Calling extremism “a part of Islam” would be more appropriate. It doesn’t whitewash the truth.
President Obama refused to apply the label “Islamic terrorism” to the world’s terror problem. His reluctance to cause offense didn’t cover up the truth, either. Did he think that extremists worry about how we feel about them? If we believe Senator Christopher Coons (D-DE), ISIS killers aren’t even Muslim:
ISIS is not Islamic – it is a perverted misinterpretation of one of the world’s great religions. It is a death cult that has killed more Muslims than Christians, and the extremists who call themselves ISIS neither practice Islam nor speak for it.1
Touting values and rights after people die is a pretty tepid response to terrorism that turns it into a political problem. Political problems rarely have a solution, though in the case of the London attacks they can turn into a war of words and Tweets between America’s president and the city’s mayor.
Offending politicians who aren’t the victims
By and large those killed in terror attacks aren’t political leaders. The victims are the people political voices claim to protect while they refuse to voice the truth and hold Islam accountable. The families of the dead are subjected to political speak about unity and resolve and refusing to bow to terrorism while they plan funerals and wonder why these tragedies keep happening despite the world’s united front against extremism.
Over and over we’ve heard that offending Islam makes us less safe, as if our use of terms like “radical Islam” or ”Islamic extremism” will turn good Muslims into killers.
Saturday Night Live comedian turned Senator Al Franken epitomized this thinking with his remarks on Trump’s travel ban:
This new executive order is more of the same discrimination and fear-mongering from the Trump Administration: the order bans people from entering our country based solely on their refugee status or where they come from, goes against who we are as a nation, and actually makes us less safe,” Sen. Franken said.2
Not opening our doors won’t put us in danger. It might put politicians on the hot seat, but the rest of us will be just fine. Most important, condemning our president for not tagging along behind the “Islam is blameless” crowd sends an irresponsible message that makes us vulnerable to our own liberal Democratic foolishness.
Trump draws a line and the world cowers
The U.S. Muslim population is a lot less threatening than the numbers in European countries that continue to grow, according to Pew Research.3
Trump came back from his Middle East trip hinting at the only solution to the problem of extremism:
Joined by many old and new friends, we have paved the way for the new era of cooperation – one that calls upon each nation to take more responsibility to bring peace to their people. One that works together to defeat the scourge of terrorism and deliver hope to all of God’s children.4
More responsibility. Islam is a political force that can overwhelm. It needs to get its house in order.
Why are we so afraid of offending this religion?
Following European and U.S. political voices that deride Trump cover up a political problem that has less to do with security and more to do with letting terrorism choose our words.
Standing united and sharing values feels good but it won’t put an end to terror. Extending thoughts to the families of the victims of Islamic killers won’t bring them back.
If Islam isn’t a threat, why are we so afraid of offending that we won’t admit that this religion is where extremism comes from and that it’s up to Muslims to stop it? Not doing so is a loser’s game, but there doesn’t seem to be any level of violence that will create a reaction in the West that overrides the fear of causing offense to people we insist are peaceful.
Living by our words and values means speaking the truth. This isn’t about not offending a religion. It’s about our fear of not publicly living up to ridiculous values that ignore the truth and put us in danger.
If Islam is so benign, why are we so fearful? That, my friends, is a political problem.
1. “Senator Coons: Spending three hours arguing about semantics hasn’t moved us anywhere closer to defeating ISIS.” Christopher Coons. June 28, 2016. https://www.coons.senate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/video-senator-coons-spending-three-hours-arguing-about-semantics-hasnt-moved-us-anywhere-closer-to-defeating-isis, retrieved June 7, 2017.
2. “Sen. Franken’s Statement on President Donald Trump’s Revised Travel Ban.” Al Franken. March 6, 2017. https://www.franken.senate.gov/?p=press_release&id=3635, retrieved June 5, 2017.
3. Hackett, Conrad. “5 facts about the Muslim population in Europe.” Pew Research. July 19, 2016. http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/07/19/5-facts-about-the-muslim-population-in-europe/, retrieved June 6, 2017.
4. “President Donald J. Trump’s Weekly Address.” The White House. June 2, 2017. https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/06/02/president-donald-j-trumps-weekly-address, retrieved June 2, 2017.