The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

"Violent Extremism"

This morning, Barack Obama (or more likely, his speechwriters) wrote an op-ed entitled "Our Fight Against Violent Extremism" for his trained hamsters at the LA Times. This, I suppose, was intended to complement his Conference on Violent Extremism that begins today in Washington. I'd like to examine his op-ed and comment on it paragraph by paragraph. Obama's words will indented, mine will be a left justified. Let's begin with Obama's opening paragraph:
The United States has made significant gains against terrorism. We've decimated the core al Qaeda leadership, strengthened homeland security and worked to prevent another large-scale attack like 9/11.
Significant gains? I suspect that many would disagree. Sure, the country has strengthened its intelligence and military assets in the 'long war,' but to state that we have in any way reduced the threat is, typically, dishonest in the extreme.
At the same time, the threat has evolved. The al Qaeda affiliate in Yemen actively plots against us. Since 9/11, terrorists have murdered U.S. citizens overseas, including in the attacks in Benghazi, Libya. Here in the United States, Americans have been killed at Ft. Hood and during the Boston Marathon.
Interesting that Obama brings up Benghazi—an attack that to this day his administration has worked very hard to obfuscate. There are dozens of open questions about that attack that remain unanswered and very troubling. In addition, it was Obama's policy that threw Libya into chaos and that has created a new homeland for ISIS and other Islamic terrorist groups. I'm not sure why he brought up the Ft. Hood attack, given that to this day the administration has characterized this act of Islamic terror as "work place violence."
Our campaign to prevent people around the world from being radicalized to violence is ultimately a battle for hearts and minds.
Two key points: (1) It is not our battle to win over the hearts and minds of Islamic radicals—it's Islam's battle, and it is up to them to do so. If, in fact, they refuse or fail, then we must re-evaluate our relationship with mainstream Islam because they will have allowed the plague to grow, ultimately infecting us all. (2) History has indicated that "winning hearts and minds" is a fantasy. Think of it this way, should we have tried to win the hearts and minds of the Nazis in 1938? In a way, we did try by appeasing them. How did that work out for the tens of millions who subsequently perished? 
In Syria and Iraq, the terrorist group we call ISIL has slaughtered innocent civilians and murdered hostages, including Americans, and has spread its barbarism to Libya with the murder of Egyptian Christians. In recent months, we've seen deadly attacks in Ottawa, Sydney, Paris and Copenhagen.
Elsewhere, the Pakistan Taliban massacred more than 100 schoolchildren and their teachers. From Somalia, al-Shabaab has launched attacks across East Africa. In Nigeria and neighboring countries, Boko Haram kills and kidnaps men, women and children.
All of this is true, but it doesn't even begin to cover the breadth of the threat. Obama conveniently leaves out the religious aspect to this violence. The directed (not "random") attacks on Christians and Jews and the clear and unequivocal element of Islamic supremacism cannot be rationally denied. He also forgets to mention the continual attacks on free speech by Islamic radicals.
In the face of this challenge, we must stand united internationally and here at home. We know that military force alone cannot solve this problem. Nor can we simply take out terrorists who kill innocent civilians. We also have to confront the violent extremists — the propagandists, recruiters and enablers — who may not directly engage in terrorist acts themselves, but who radicalize, recruit and incite others to do so.
Who, exactly, is "we." Is it the West, is it mainstream Islam, and how, exactly are "we" to proceed? In addition, he talks about radical Islam as a "problem." Interesting choice of words. A problem can be solved. But that's not what radical Islam is. It's a threat to the West, to peace, to people of other religions. Threats are not solved. Threats are addressed forcefully and eliminated.
This week, we'll take an important step forward as governments, civil society groups and community leaders from more than 60 nations gather in Washington for a global summit on countering violent extremism. Our focus will be on empowering local communities.
Oh my, where to begin. Here we have a president who will not name our adversary and seems unsure and ambivalent about the way forward. He sponsors a "conference" on "violent extremism" in which words, not actions, will emerge. The politically-correct talk-fest will accomplish exactly nothing. In fact, it will be counter-productive because it will indicate that we'd prefer to talk, rather than act. Think of it this way. As the Nazi threat emerged in the 1930s, would a gathering of "governments, civil society groups and community leaders from more than 60 nations" have done anything to eliminate it?
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. We can echo the testimonies of former extremists who know how terrorists betray Islam. We can help Muslim entrepreneurs and youths work with the private sector to develop social media tools to counter extremist narratives on the Internet.
In a very important article in The Atlantic—a left-leaning publication,  Graeme Wood refutes the gross over-simplification that radical Islam is a "twisted interpretation of religion." His in-depth article is must reading for anyone, left or right, who wants to understand radical Islam and its religious foundation. His research is very troubling and is in direct conflict with Obama's interpretation.
We know from experience that the best way to protect people, especially young people, from falling into the grip of violent extremists is the support of their family, friends, teachers and faith leaders. At this week's summit, community leaders from Los Angeles, Minneapolis and Boston will highlight innovative partnerships in their cities that are helping empower communities to protect their loved ones from extremist ideologies.
Yeah, all we need to do is create a few cool websites, tweet just the right things, and post instagram images that are better accepted than beheaded corpses. Yeah, that'll work. Won't it? By the way, Obama mentions that "we all know from experience ..."  Really? Can he provide examples that indicate this to be true on a broad scale, and if in fact it is true, is he really suggesting that some Muslim "young people" gravitate to radical Islam because they aren't receiving competing  messages? Really?
More broadly, groups like al Qaeda and ISIL exploit the anger that festers when people feel that injustice and corruption leave them with no chance of improving their lives. The world has to offer today's youth something better.
Ahhh .. the standard leftist trope. It's all about "injustice and corruption" and we might as well add the other operative leftist memes—oppression, joblessness, hopelessness ...blah, blah. Here's the thing:  unfortunately, injustice, corruption, oppression, joblessness, and hopelessness exist in many segments of many societies in many parts of the world, yet we do not see broad-based, barbaric acts of terror emanating from those societies. Only where Islam is present do we see this occurring. That's a clue as to what the "problem" might be. But I'll bet there won't be a panel discussion on it at Obama's conference, will there?
Governments that deny human rights play into the hands of extremists who claim that violence is the only way to achieve change. Efforts to counter violent extremism will only succeed if citizens can address legitimate grievances through the democratic process and express themselves through strong civil societies. Those efforts must be matched by economic, educational and entrepreneurial development so people have hope for a life of dignity.
My goodness. This is embarrassing in its banality. The core tenet of radical Islam is Sharia—complete submission to Islamic law. There is no democracy or human rights possible because these cannot exist alongside Sharia. To suggest that "entrepreneurial development" will somehow stop the march of radical Islam is—idiotic in the extreme.
Finally — with al Qaeda and ISIL peddling the lie that the United States is at war with Islam — all of us have a role to play by upholding the pluralistic values that define us as Americans. This week, we'll be joined by people of many faiths, including Muslim Americans who make extraordinary contributions to our country every day. It's a reminder that America is successful because we welcome people of all faiths and backgrounds.
This is a common Obama verbal strategy. He has created a strawman that doesn't exist in the real world. He suggests that somehow, the United States is being unfair or bigoted toward its Muslim citizens. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. This country along with other Western nations has shown character and calm in light of the monstrous events perpetrated by radical Islam worldwide. In all of the years that have passed since 9/11, there have been far fewer hate crimes perpetrated against Muslims than against, say, Jews or gay people.
That pluralism has at times been threatened by hateful ideologies and individuals from various religions. We've seen tragic killings at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin in 2012 and at a Jewish community center in Kansas last year.
Does this president expect us to believe that a few isolated hate crimes should be compared to the threat of the planned, coordinated barbarity of radical Islam. Is there truly moral equivalence in this analogy? Nonsense!
We do not yet know why three young people, who were Muslim Americans, were brutally killed in Chapel Hill, N.C. But we know that many Muslim Americans across our country are worried and afraid. Americans of all faiths and backgrounds must continue to stand united with a community in mourning and insist that no one should ever be targeted because of who they are, what they look like, or how they worship.
Interesting. The White House at first called the recent anti-Semitic attack in Paris that killed four Jews "random." A few days ago, it referred to ISIS's mass murder of Coptic Christians by referring to them as "Egyptian citizens." But despite clear evidence that the three Muslim students killed by an unhinged, progressive, atheist  had nothing to do with their religion, Obama holds this event up as some exemplar of anti-Muslim bigotry in the United States. Interesting also, that he doesn't mention the fact that Jews, in very large numbers, are fleeing Europe because of real, not imagined, Muslim anti-Semitism.
Our campaign to prevent people around the world from being radicalized to violence is ultimately a battle for hearts and minds. With this week's summit, we'll show once more that — unlike terrorists who only offer misery and death — it is our free societies and diverse communities that offer the true path to opportunity, justice and dignity.
Yep. It's all about "opportunity, justice and dignity." And it's exactly that mindset that causes the "folks" at ISIS, Al Qaeda, Boko Haram, Hamas, al Nusra, the Muslim Brotherhood and dozens of other radical Islamic groups to smile.

In writing about the EU's response to Russian aggression in the Ukraine and Barack Obama's response to "violent extremism," Richard Fernandez uses a metaphor that is entirely appropriate:
Both Obama and Merkel are in the position of a cuckolded husband who pauses at a bedroom door, knowing what he will find on the other side and yet reluctant to cross the threshold for fear of having to do something once the situation becomes undeniable. To avoid conflict he pauses at the doorway to give himself the benefit of the doubt. Unfortunately the sounds emanating from within grow ever more unmistakable and the only question is not if, but when the truth must be faced.
The sounds from the other side are echoes of the 1930s. And yet, this president stands at the door, hoping against hope that nothing is there.