Radical Islam's fifth column
Radical Islam's fifth column

Two days after the mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, the FBI correctly identified the attack as terrorism, although it was reportedly pressured by the White House to refrain from doing so.  Thirty-six people were killed or wounded by Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik, husband-and-wife jihadists whose identities were known soon after the massacre but withheld for hours – presumably out of concern for an anti-Muslim backlash that has never really occurred in the United States. 

The Obama administration and mainstream media went into obfuscation mode, initially implicating workplace violence and ineffective gun laws as possible causes of the attack, with one CNN reporter stretching credulity by questioning whether postpartum psychosis might have been a factor.  Gun control advocates co-opted the moment to push their agenda – although there is no correlation between gun laws and terrorism – while the president downplayed the role of radical Islam, despite evidence to the contrary.

Mr. Obama waited four days before addressing the nation with a short speech that conceded the shooters were terrorists, but which focused more on gun control than terrorism or the existential threat of radical Islam.  He was swiftly criticized for not discussing the ideological motivations behind the attack or formulating an effective plan for fighting terrorism, and for appearing more concerned about possible Islamophobia than national security.  He was also chided for lauding the effectiveness of his current strategies, despite the exponential growth of ISIS on his watch and in response to his feckless policies. 

There was a disconnect between harsh reality and partisan fantasy as Mr. Obama attempted to associate gun control with the massacre.  Such tendentious rhetoric, however, is misplaced in addressing terrorism generally and San Bernardino in particular, considering that California already has the most restrictive gun laws in the country and that the shooters had a stockpile of pipe bombs in their home.  It is simply absurd. 

The president’s focus on gun control was deceptive in its implication that terrorism is tractable through regulation, and he compounded the subterfuge by suggesting that the shooters had no international terror connections.  But this suggestion was contradicted by their degree of preparedness and coordination, use of sophisticated assault gear, and receipt of substantial funds a few weeks before the attack. 

The depiction of the shooters as isolated actors was further controverted by evidence of longstanding Islamist sympathies, aborted plans for earlier attacks, and communications with other jihadists.  There was solid evidence that they were radicalized long before the White House suggested they were, and none regarding any on-the-job slights that might have prompted workplace revenge.  Malik had actually publicized her jihadist leanings on social media before moving to the U.S., but her postings were ignored when she applied for a visa because of a then secret policy prohibiting authorities from considering an applicant’s online statements in the absence of known involvement in terrorist acts. 

Mr. Obama has addressed the nation and commented through spokesmen several times since his initial speech, but his message has not changed.  He continues to tout the effectiveness of his failed strategies and still has no cogent plan for dealing with ISIS.  Moreover, he downplays the influence of religion and international terrorism in order to minimize the significance and doctrinal underpinnings of the threat.  As suggested by recent polls, however, Americans do not believe he is capable of fighting terrorism, defeating ISIS, or even understanding the danger.

Equally troubling is his rush to defend a single religion to the exclusion of identifying those who embrace its more extreme doctrines.  His apologetic sentiments were echoed by Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who said her biggest concern in the wake of the shootings was preventing a backlash against Muslims (not cracking down on supporters of terror), and who advocated prosecution for anti-Muslim speech – although the First Amendment clearly prohibits government from restricting even repugnant expression. 

Lynch’s comments reflect the administration’s deference to Muslim sensibilities and conciliatory attitude toward radicals.  If she is fearful of prejudice Multiple surveys show that Jew-hatred far exceeds prejudice against Muslims or Arabs, yet Mr. Obama shows little concern regarding anti-Semitism.  On the contrary, he has fanned its flames...
against Muslims and Arabs, who statistically suffer little discrimination in the US, why has she not expressed similar concern for Jews – especially on college campuses, where anti-Semitic speech is encouraged and Jewish students have been verbally abused and physically assaulted?  Multiple surveys show that Jew-hatred far exceeds prejudice against Muslims or Arabs, yet Mr. Obama shows little concern regarding anti-Semitism.  On the contrary, he has fanned its flames by subtly evoking classical stereotypes of undue Jewish influence and divided loyalties in disparaging those who criticize his Mideast and Iran policies.

The president has been pandering to Islamist interests since his first days in office and has fostered a climate of political correctness that has crippled government’s ability to deal with doctrinal extremism.  His policies have made it difficult to identify and neutralize those who preach jihad and genocide for fear of insulting the ideology that mandates both. 

Shortly after taking office, he appointed Janet Napolitano as Secretary of Homeland Security and set about changing how government would deal with Islamic radicalism.  Napolitano announced that the administration would refrain from using terms like “Islamic terrorism” and instead refer to terrorist acts as “man-caused disasters.”  She explained that this terminology was necessary “to move away from the politics of fear toward a policy of being prepared for all risks that can occur,” but what it really signified was the use of linguistic artifice as a policy tool.

That was only the beginning of the administration’s campaign to control speech.  Since then, terrorism has been called many things except what it is.  The Fort Hood shooting and Oklahoma beheadings were identified as “workplace violence,” the attacks in France last year were blamed on “violent extremism,” and the assault on a kosher Jewish market in Paris was initially described by the president as “random.”  Terrorism against Jews and Israel is largely ignored, while Israel is excoriated for having the temerity to defend herself. 

The administration’s foreign policy regards the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas as legitimate political entities and has facilitated Iran’s nuclear ambitions.  Domestically, it has prohibited the FBI from profiling Islamic radicals, mandated that NASA engage in Muslim outreach as an organizational priority, and restricted federal employees from drawing any connection between terrorism and radical Islam.  Such policies are inconsistent with national security.

Political correctness has diminished government’s ability to monitor radicals and prevent terror attacks.  Consider the consequences of failing to identify the Fort Hood shooter, Nidal Hasan, as a terrorist despite his open jihadist rhetoric and multiple communications with radical imam Anwar al-Awlaki.  Rather than acknowledge Hasan as a threat, the military promoted him through the ranks, even though he lacked the aptitude for advancement.

Similar scenarios have played out in the civilian sector.  After the San Bernardino massacre, witnesses reported having seen strangers of Middle Eastern appearance in the neighborhood, the delivery of unusual packages, and suspicious activity at the shooters’ home just weeks before the attack.  However, they did not call the police for fear of being branded racists, thus illustrating the deadly consequences of knee-jerk political correctness.

Progressives are quick to deny any connection between terrorism and radical Islam, but have no problem characterizing other kinds of violence as terror, as long as they can implicate and disparage their political opponents – no matter how silly or attenuated the connection.  They jumped to blame recent abortion clinic shootings on Republican rhetoric, although the assailants were apolitical and mentally ill, and to describe school shootings, such as those in Columbine, Colorado and Newtown, Connecticut, as domestic terrorism, though they were perpetrated by disturbed teenagers or post-adolescents with no political pretensions.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines terrorism as “the use of violent acts to frighten the people in an area as a way of trying to achieve a political goal.”  Whatever prompted the shootings in Columbine, Newtown, or Colorado Springs, none seemed to fit the definition of terrorism. 

President Obama has been quick to attribute terrorism to workplace violence or nonspecific extremism, or to pontificate that climate change poses a greater threat to national security.  When those tactics fail, he accuses the media – which has spent seven years ignoring his gaffes and protecting his image – of creating the perception of a global terror crisis by sensationalizing the story. 

The president seems to believe the problem is one of messaging, not substance, and that it can be defined out of existence by censorship and semantics, irrespective of any unpleasant facts on the ground.  George Orwell could not have written a more absurd scenario, or a more frightening one.