President Obama has long rankled with his preposterous, mantra-like refusal to mention or allow anyone in his administration to mention Islam in the same breath as “terror” or “terrorism.”
He would not even allow the use of the phrase “radical Islam” which, to most, would only signify a possible hijacking of a faith to one’s own use. This, even though terrorist attacks for years have almost invariably been committed by marauders invoking Allah in the course of their murderous rampages.
Mr. Obama’s reason for this has been straightforward: Determined to reset the relationship between the United States and the Muslim world, he was fearful that even tangential linkage as a matter of American policy would thwart that goal by alienating many Muslims. And in that regard, Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton stood by him. But in the wake of the Orlando shooting on Sunday at the hands of an American-born Muslim who swore allegiance to Islamic State, that seems to have changed.
Donald Trump reacted to the Orlando shooting by doubling down on his uncompromising, hard-line, theoretical linkage to terrorism of Muslims generally and some of the teachings of Islam, and by reiterating his call for restricting their entry into the U.S.
Mrs. Clinton at first echoed President Obama’s paean to diversity and “our values.” She dismissed Mr. Trump’s overall approach and tried to downplay any connection between Islam and the Orlando terror. She reiterated the need for gun control, deplored Mr. Trump’s “inflammatory, anti-Muslim rhetoric,” and said the “murder of innocent people breaks our hearts, tears at our sense of security, and makes us furious.”
And she rhapsodized that “America is strongest when we all believe we have a stake in our country and our future…. Our open, diverse society is an asset in the struggle against terrorism, not a liability.”
But she didn’t even hint at the notion that Islamic terrorism or radical Islam played a role in the Orlando attack.
Mr. Trump responded with a call for President Obama to resign and for Mrs. Clinton to withdraw from the presidential race over their refusal to recognize the Islamic threat to Americans’ safety.
Mrs. Clinton then did a stunning about face, as reflected in her exchange with CNN’s Chris Cuomo:
Cuomo: “One of the criticisms in these situations is that President Obama won’t use the words ‘radical Islamic terror.’ That it seems to be either a fear or a protective instinct about blaming the religion. You are now coming under scrutiny about what you will call this, what this means to leadership. Do you believe that this is radical Islamism? Will you use those words, and if not, why?”
Clinton: “Well, first of all, from my perspective, it matters what we do more than what we say. And it mattered we got bin Laden, not what name we called him. And I have clearly said that we face terrorist enemies who use Islam to justify slaughtering innocent people. And, you know, whether you call it radical jihadism or radical Islamism, I think they mean the same thing; I’m happy to use either.”
While there is still a trace of diplomatic gobbledygook, it seems clear that, under pressure from Mr. Trump, Mrs. Clinton has broken from President Obama on a singular theme of his administration. Time will tell whether she will be as vulnerable to future Trump verbal barrages respecting other controversial positions the leader of her party has espoused. If nothing else, she has signaled a recognition that events may force her hand.
The Sarona Attack
As soon as the dust settled on the Palestinian terrorist attack on Tel Aviv’s Sarona café last week in which four Israelis were killed and many more wounded, Israel announced several immediate countermeasures –which included refusing to send the bodies of the terrorists to their families, imposing travel restrictions on Palestinians, and deploying thousands of troops in the West Bank.Editorial Board