By Paul Sperry
That President Obama won’t call it Islamic terrorism; that he believes we shouldn’t be on a “high horse” because America and Christians have done bad things; that Muslims are victims of “bigotry and prejudice”; that his State Department says it’s the lack of jobs, not religion, that fuels ISIS, should come as no surprise.
After all, he said the same thing about 9/11.
In 2004, Obama released an update of his 1995 memoir, “Dreams from My Father,” with a little-noticed new preface about the attacks.
“On September 11, 2001,” Obama wrote, “…history returned with a vengeance; in fact, as Faulkner reminds us, the past is never dead and buried – it isn’t even past.”
“This collective history, this past, directly touches my own,” he added. “Not merely because, as a consequence of 9/11, my name is an irresistible target of mocking websites from overzealous Republican operatives. But also because the underlying struggle between worlds of plenty and worlds of want…is the struggle set forth, on a miniature scale, in this book,” which at its core is an indictment against Western imperialism, racism and colonialism.
Obama goes on to say he identifies with the “desperation and disorder of the powerless,” and how they can “easily slip into violence and despair.”
“I know, I have seen, the desperation and disorder of the powerless; how it twists the lives of children on the streets of Jakarta or Nairobi in much the same way as it does the lives of children on Chicago’s South Side, how narrow the path is for them between humiliation and untrammeled fury, how easily they slip into violence and despair,” he wrote. “I know that the response of the powerful to this disorder – alternating as it does between a dull complacency and, when the disorder spills out of its proscribed confines, a steady, unthinking application of force, of longer prison sentences and more sophisticated military hardware – is inadequate to the task.”
Obama implies terrorism is simply a spasm of violence which erupts among the poor in response to that desperation.
So what does he make of “Jihadi John,” unmasked this week as Mohammed Emwazi, 28, who grew up in middle-class London? He wasn’t poor. His family emigrated from Kuwait to the UK, and he received a degree in computer programming from the University of Westminster.
Emwazi’s travel to the Middle East raised suspicions, and he was angry MI5 tried to recruit him as a double agent, but this was hardly persecution. Certainly the UK offered him more freedom than ISIS does its citizens.
Yet Emwazi now stars in videos where he beheads hostages.
If it wasn’t “the desperation and disorder of the powerless” that made Emwazi a monster, what was it?
That which Obama won’t say: radical Islam.
In “Dreams from My Father,” he sums up the section on 9/11 by saying that “I know that the hardening of lines, the embrace of fundamentalism and tribe, dooms us all.” But that suggests that there’s some equivalency there – between the embrace of a “fundamentalism” that burns Christians to death and a “hardening of lines” that says the United States should fight that with “more sophisticated hardware.”
Had the media examined Obama’s ideology a little more closely in the 2008 election, perhaps we wouldn’t have a president who holds the US to equal scorn as its enemies.
“The Muslim world has suffered historical grievances,” Obama last month asserted while hosting his “Summit on Countering Violent Extremism.” He blamed the rash of global terrorism in part on “a history of colonialism” in the Mideast, Africa and South Asia.
Until these “economic and political grievances” are addressed – “not as a matter of military affairs” but by changing out “corrupt” regimes that “suppress Islam” and by funding more foreign jobs programs – terrorist attacks will continue to plague the West, he said.
In the meantime, he has a rallying cry for Americans: “resilience and perspective.” Seems he thinks America still has painful lessons to learn.
Paul Sperry is a Hoover Institution media fellow and author of “Infiltration: How Muslim Spies and Subversives Have Penetrated Washington.”