'Islamic terrorism' off the table at summit

The White House is going to play host to a summit discussion on international terrorism.

You won’t hear the words “Islamic terrorism,” though, used in that context.

How come?


Conservatives have been critical of President Obama for declining to refer to Islamist terrorism. He’s been parsing his language carefully to call them simply “terrorists,” even though we’re bombing Islamic State targets, seeking out al-Qaeda terrorist cells and killing its leaders, and enlisting the aid of other allies to find terrorists linked to other Islamic groups, such as Hezbollah, Boko Haram and Hamas.

Don’t mention the words “Islamic terrorist,” though at this summit.

It’s an interesting and at times troubling quibble over the use of language.

I get where the critics are coming from, but at the risk of doing something that annoys me at times — such as trying to read the minds of political leaders — I think I’m going to offer one simple hypothesis for the linguistic omission: Barack Obama doesn’t want the Islamic extremists to use any additional pretext for suggesting that the West is waging a religious war against Islam.

Obama’s immediate predecessor, George W. Bush, made the point time and again that the United States is not doing battle against Islam. Obama has carried that message forward as he has continued taking the fight to the terrorists.

Yet, the Islamic terrorists — I’ll call them such here — keep trying to recruit fighters by suggesting that our side is fighting a religious war. President Obama says “no!,” just as President Bush said “no!” before him.

To use such language at the White House summit, I’m guessing, would enflame the passions further among those who continue to believe the lie that we’re waging war against one of the world’s great religions.


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