The timing of Omar Mateen’s shooting at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub was rotten for the Obama administration, because Secretary of State John Kerry had just published his carefully worded Joint Strategy on Countering Violent Extremism (CVE), in which the word religion or religious appears nine times, but Islam, Islamist, and Muslim appear nary a-once. The administration’s refusal to say the words radical Islamic terror became a talking point for the Trump campaign in the wake of Little Omar’s act of mass murder.
Thus, a visibly angry Barack Obama took time to lash out at “politicians who tweet” during a Rose Garden speech, wagging his nannyfinger at the rubes who, by speaking negatively about Islam, are fanning the flames of worldwide jihad—er, “violence”—and recruiting ambiguously religious extremists for “Eye-sull.” How dare anyone question the President’s dedication to defeating nonsectarian hate, when he has been keeping all of us safe, except for those who have not been kept safe, like all of the recently dead people, whose deaths must be attributed to assault weapons, Republicans, and homo- and Islamophobia.
President Obama resolutely refuses to refer to the threat America faces as something related to Islam, or Islamists, or Muslims, or Muslimists, or any other term that casts even a hint of blame upon the teachings of Muhammad or the practitioners of his phony, Manichaean, inherently violent, deliberately dissembling, Christ-hating religion. Yes, that’s exactly what Islam is. And in spite of an oft-cited statistic disguised as a moral maxim (“the world’s one billion Muslims”), I will repeat: Islam is all of those things, and more. Fifty-million Elvis fans can be wrong.
Violent extremism is the President’s preferred term, and he’s been working it into our heads like a packet of Fleischmann’s ever since he took office. Now I’m all in favor of demanding that we call a spade a spade (see above); but I also think that, by focusing on what the President won’t say, we’re missing an opportunity to walk around undetected in that Amityville horror of a place that we call the liberal mind and learn something about the other side.
What could Barack Obama possibly mean when he refers to violent extremism?
We can make quick progress by solving one side of the equation: Violent means “forcible,” a willingness to use power, from the Latin vis, strength. Max Weber, that father of all gun-grabbers and justifier of bloated government, famously said that the state has the only legitimate monopoly on violence. This emasculating notion, thrust like a rapier through the ribs of traditional society, snatches away natural loyalty and binds men to something that is artificial and abstract. You can look at a man’s body, contrast it with a woman’s, and see that it was designed to exercise strength to protect the man’s family—and even the most liberal biologist has no trouble attributing this quality to, say, a silverback gorilla. Human history records a fairly consistent tradition of moral limits placed on man’s violent actions—limits that appeal to divine authority. The modern state pretends that it is the source of that authority, the only entity capable of granting a man permission to be what he was made to be. Like the Roman emperors of old, the modern state demands veneration and total obedience: Pay your taxes to fund abortion, sign up your daughter for the draft, and welcome Bruce Jenner to the ladies’ room. State worship is the sort of idolatry that John the Revelator wrote about, using terms like beast and whore.
Ultimately, then, the willingness to employ God-given strength, to use violence, needs some kind of context for us to know whether it is good or evil. After all, God Himself is violent.
We will search in vain within the aforementioned CVE for any sort of concrete definition of extremism. As if written by a kindergarten teacher, the Obama administration’s document teaches us that violent extremists “pose a significant challenge,” speak “a variety of languages,” are “born of many racial and ethnic groups,” and belong to “diverse religions.” That last bit of vagueness is a real dinger, as President Obama continues to insist that Eye-sull does not represent a certain Mecca-based religion at all but, rather, is a perversion of it. Are we to infer, then, that there are no “violent extremists” among the world’s one billion Muslims? To what “diverse religions” do these extremists belong?
In a prelude to a plea for massive amounts of USAID, the CVE informs us that the ambiguously religious peoples who occupy countries and regions that have grown politically and economically unstable are prone to extremism. We might be tempted to take this as an explanation for the fact that Eye-sull (or “Da’esh,” as the CVE prefers—a term that will get your tongue cut out if you use it in front of a member of Eye-sull) has been able to recruit dumb middle-class Americans. Again, in a section that is actually labeled “Defining and Understanding Violent Extremism,” we get no definitions, only the vaguest of allusions:
Violent extremism is not necessarily tied to a particular religion, ideology, or set of political beliefs, although there is consistency in the extreme ideology propagated and exploited by various terrorist organizations including Da’esh over recent years to justify their violence.
Would this “consistency” have anything to do with the fact that the “extreme ideology” is Islamic? No, it turns out that “ethnic intolerance” and “State repression of cultural and religious expression” are what all of the extremist hotbeds have in common. (We might reasonably conclude, then, that if a certain politician who tweets were to build the border wall and “temporarily pause” Muslim immigration, Idaho would turn into Syria.)
No, the Obama administration is careful not to define extremism because, if it did, we might be able to evaluate the definition. We are simply supposed to know what it means, and if we claim that we don’t know, we might just be extremists ourselves.
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