Monday, June 13, 2016

Yes, CNN, it does matter if Obama uses the term "radical Islamic terrorism."

CNN's bias is showing again--or, rather, still.

Throughout the 2016 Presidential campaign, Donald Trump has repeatedly called for  both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton to call the motivations behind atrocities such as the Orlando and San Bernadino shootings by name: "Radical Islamic Terrorism." When assessing the importance of this label, CNN conveniently leaves off the "Radical" adjective while pontificating about the efficacy or inefficacy of the term.

To critique a term, one must first accurately reference the term. If the term is "Radical Islamic terrorism," then critiquing the use of "Islamic terrorism" is ultimately a straw man argument. CNN is, as is its wont where the Republican nominee is concerned, making a straw man argument.

I will say that I am at the present unpersuaded of any difference between "Radical Islam" and "Islam". I lean towards agreeing with Breitbart's Milo Yiannopolous on this point--that the problem, and the enemy, is in fact simply "Islam". 

Still, I appreciate Trump's nuancing with by making it "Radical Islam." It opens the door towards the posture of "Radical Islam" being different from "Islam", in the same way "crony capitalism" is different from "capitalism." It allows for common cause with moderate Muslim communities here in the USA to eradicate those who would use religion as a justification for murder.

If a Muslim living in the United States accepts that Sharia is not the law of the land, and will not be the law of the land, we need not make of him an enemy. We can make of him a friend.

If a Muslim living in the United States accepts that he or she lives in cosmopolitan society, with diverse belief systems and creeds, and is willing to live in peace with those creeds, we need not make of him an enemy. We can make of him a friend.

If a Muslim living in the United States is willing to assimilate into our culture, meeting our culture "halfway", we need not make of him an enemy. We can make of him a friend.

If a Muslim living in the United States demands Sharia, rejects our cosmopolitan society, and refuses to assimilate, then he has made of himself an enemy, and we can never make of him a friend. That is simply not one of the potential outcomes under those circumstances.

The United States is still the nation founded on the premise that all men are created equal, with inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and that government is the tool men use to preserve those same rights. Any religion or creed that cannot celebrate this premise will never be compatible with American civic life, and so must be removed from our civic society.

It necessarily follows from the term and Trump's repeated use of it that Trump understands both the nuance and the need for the nuance. In this chaotic and painful aftermath of the carnage in Orlando, that nuance and only that nuance allows Trump (or Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton), to label, identify, and call out the threat that faces us--"Radical Islam"--while leaving an opening for the more moderate Muslims to make common cause against what should be a common enemy.

"Radical Islamic Terrorism" is the nuance that allows Muslims either living in this country or wishing to legally emigrate to this country the chance to be Americans, certainly in spirit and ultimately in citizenship as well. "Islamic terrorism" compels all Muslims to decide: their fate or this nation, their personal liberty or the freedom our society hopefully still cherishes. "Radical Islamic Terrorism" is the nuance allows us to oppose ISIS directly on its own without alienating the Muslim states we need as allies to defeat ISIS once and for all.

So yes, CNN, is does matter if Obama uses the term "radical Islamic terrorism." The term tells us he's looking at the right problem, in the right time, and in the right frame of mind. The term tells us if Hillary Clinton can or cannot competently address the real problems facing our society, here and around the world. It matters so much, that it even matters if your staff will are able to use the term "radical Islamic terrorism."

Sadly, it appears that your staff, just like Barack Obama and just like Hillary Clinton, are not able to call the enemy by its name: 

Radical Islamic Terrorism.