Radical Islamic Terrorism

Question: why doesn’t Obama just say the words “radical Islamic terrorism” already and spare us the continued misery of having to listen to endless complaints that he doesn’t say them?

Yes, clearly, saying the words won’t damage ISIS in any way. But it will alleviate the tedium of seeing the public space colonized by the discussion of his reluctance to say the words.

Hillary said she was sorry about the emails, and they mostly went away. Why not do the same for this discussion? What good is being advanced by the refusal to just say it already?

18 thoughts on “Radical Islamic Terrorism

  1. Well, he’s tried that, though — giving the GOP what they want. (His long-form birth certificate, for instance.) It’s never had noticeable success. They’ll either ignore it, pretend he hasn’t done it, or seize on some new faux-outrage.


    1. The birth certificate thing worked. Not even Trump is very interested in the subject any longer. There are still stalwart believers but birtherism has left the mainstream.


      1. That’s true!

        Also, you’re right, at least the GOP would stop squawking about “radical Islamic terrorism” and why won’t Obama say the magic words. Might be worth it just for that.

        Probably they’d move into squawking about why it took him so long to say the magic words, though.


    1. Vsevolod Chaplin, one of the priests quoted in the linked piece, was caught last week at a McDonald’s devouring a Big Mac in the midst of an Orthodox fast. It was especially hilarious given that Chaplin is famous for loudly denouncing American products and American culture. 🙂


      1. This is the guy who thinks women are responsible for rape.

        “If she wears a mini-skirt she can provoke not only a man from the Caucasus, but a Russian man as well. If she is drunk, it is even more likely that she will provoke men. If she actively contacts people and then wonders that this contact ends in rape, she is not right at all.”


  2. Could Obama use the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism” without defining it and offering an explanation of why he decided to use it? What distinguishes it from “non-Islamic” terrorism such as that practiced by the Islamic State which “has nothing to do with Islam?”


    1. So you agree with Delagar (the commenter up thread)? Using the expression will achieve nothing because the goal is simply to keep picking on who said what, when and how? It’s all about fostering a childish spat?

      OK then.


      1. Not at all, unless “giving the GOP what they want” means appearing to change direction without actually changing direction. Either the Islamic State “has nothing to do with Islam” or it has something to do with it.

        Were Obama to reflect, seriously, on Islam and conclude that there is such a thing as “radical Islamic terrorism,” he should certainly acknowledge and define it. Views — even those of politicians — sometimes evolve, and that’s good. If Obama wants to create the impression that his views have evolved and that he is not merely shifting with the political winds that’s what he should do.


        1. “Were Obama to reflect, seriously, on Islam and conclude that there is such a thing as “radical Islamic terrorism,” he should certainly acknowledge and define it.”

          Nobody ever denied it exists. Confirming that it exists is like conforming that today is Wednesday. It can only be done in order to put to rest the endless insistence that such confirmation is extremely necessary. Other than that, it’s just stating the painfully obvious.


          1. “Nobody ever denied it exists.” OK, what is “radical” Islam?

            Are the human rights envionments in, for example, Saudi Arabia and Iran representative of “radical” or “normal” Islam?


            1. The definition we are discussing is “radical Islamic terrorism”. It was repeated at least 20 times at the Republican debate yesterday. Let’s stick to that discussion and not modify the subject to something entirely different. As it is, the expression is too clunky. Why not reduce it to “Muslim terrorism” is a mystery.


              1. It was repeated at least 20 times at the Republican debate yesterday.

                In other words, it’s a Republican meme, and like the other Republican memes “Islamofascism” and “Islamism” serves the purpose of framing the issue in a Republican way. I prefer to speak in terms of “theocratic violence,” with “Islam-themed theocratic violence” for the likes of Al Qaeda, Daesh, etc., maybe “Christianism” or “Christofascism” for the likes of “Lord’s Resistance Army” or FLDS.


              2. I use the phrase “religious fanaticism.” It’s a blanket term for all religious fanatics because I see very few real differences between them.


              3. The Republicans and other foreign policy hawks want their clash of civilizations. They want to fight the Merovingian wars again. Getting people to use memes like “Islamic terrorism” or “Islamofascism” is about “the Islamism threat is real, my friend.” In other words, it’s “Committee on the Present Danger” all over again. If they can get people to phrase things in ways that reinforce ideas like high threat level or western civilization under siege, they can get people to position themselves on the hawkish side of the hawk-dove spectrum, which is good for the defense contractors, etc.

                My biggest disappointment with virtually all of the Democratic candidates in the CBS debate was that none of them called out the debate panelists on badgering the Democratic candidates into using these conservative memes, and that none tried to explain the issue in terms of an alternative framing.


              4. Fanaticism per se doesn’t bother me. Some of the most fanatical religious groups are also the most peaceful, such as Joe’s Wits and the Mennonites. Religiosity crosses a line when the concept of infallibility enters the picture. Once people are 100% sure of the rightness of their cause, bad things happen.


      2. Well, to be clear, I think that for the GOP it’s nothing but a childish game — they’re trying to score points on Obama (and by extension, the Democratic party) any way they can. That’s been shown throughout the past seven years — look at how the GOP governors rejected Medicaid expansion, for instance, to the detriment of their own citizens and states, in the forlorn hope of scoring points against Obamacare.

        The Benghazi faux-scandal is another example.


        1. Ah, yes — how childish to want to fight back against barbarian butchers from the fifth century who behead children in the Middle East, and slaughter Americans in San Bernardino.

          This isn’t a clash of civilizations: the rabid dogs composing ISIS can’t be called anything nearly as human as as a “civilization.” But they’re making war on us, and we’re going to have to exterminate them soon or later.


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