Another day, another terrorist attack. Nice, France. A man reportedly shouting “Allahu Akbar” drove a truck through a crowd gathered to watch a Bastille Day fireworks show. Current news reports number the dead at 84, and over a hundred more injured. The driver has been identified as a Tunisian national who lived in Nice.

It is generally prudent to wait for facts to be gathered before making accusations and formulating responses, but there are times it’s safe to make educated guesses. While “credit” for this attack hasn’t been yet taken by a terrorist organization, all the hallmarks are there to indicate this is yet another episode of terrorism rooted in Radical Islam.

In the wake of the mass shooting in Orlando last month, President Obama demonstrated a continuing aversion to using the term “Radical Islam,” or acknowledging the attack’s ideological roots, preferring instead to work in conjunction with the press and liberal pundits to redirect the discussion and response at the Left’s favorite bogeymen.

This time around, the terrorist used a truck to murder. It’s going to be difficult this time around to redirect the dialogue about this attack at inanimate objects, and in this manner it’s similar to the Boston Marathon bombing. What did we get in the aftermath of that terrorist attack? A city-wide lockdown, and no substantial policy changes afterwards. They did something, as they always try to do after a high-profile event such as these. If the event can be used to leverage a hot-button issue, it will be. If not, some other high-visibility action will be taken. Any terrorist attack involving guns results in calls for more restrictions on gun rights. Those that don’t? After shoe bomber Richard Reid’s attempt, they decided we all have to remove our shoes at the airport.

What we don’t ever seem to see is a broad policy declaration. And, while it is still early, we also haven’t seen Obama actually name the enemy here. The initial White House statement is full of the usual platitudes, which is to be expected. When we look past those, we see a careful qualification of the incident:

what appears to be a horrific terrorist attack.

I can accept hedging the statement by using “appears to be,” but if they’re going to hedge, why not speak the most likely probability? Why not say:

what appears to be yet another attack rooted in Radical Islam?

Obama caught a lot of grief over his reluctance to name “Radical Islam” or “Islamic Terror” after the Orlando attack. He refused to give ground on that dispute, choosing instead to snipe back at those sniping at him.

Obama asked:

What exactly would using this label accomplish?

I will answer.

We are engaged in a fight with an enemy that is not pursuing “typical” goals of war. While most wars are fought over territory or control of territory, this war is rooted in the attempt to impose an ideology on others. Most wars end up with the victor either possessing or controlling new territory, or defeating a foe who sought to possess or control territory. Even proxy wars like Korea, Viet Nam and Kuwait involve a conflict about control. Yes, ISIS seeks to take control of territory, as have some other incarnations of Radical Islam. Yes, ISIS envisions a “caliphate,” which by traditional Islamic definitions includes all lands that were ever under islamic control, and would thus stretch from Spain to the Pacific. But, ISIS is pressing an ideology, one that the rest of the world is expected to submit to. That’s how people get radicalized into “home-grown” and “lone-wolf” terrorists. That’s what Radical Islam does. But, if our leaders won’t even say those words, how can we expect to fight it?

The bedrock foundation of our society is individual liberty. We are “the land of the free,” and among the rights the government is tasked to protect is the right to believe and worship as one wishes. That right, that religious freedom, is (supposed to be) inviolate, but like all other rights, it is bounded. My rights do not give me license to violate your rights. Just as you cannot demand I alter my religious beliefs because of your own beliefs, I cannot demand that you alter your behavior because of my religious beliefs.

That is exactly what Radical Islam demands, though. It is why Radical Islam does not fit into any free society, and if we are to fend off its attacks on our land, our fellows, and our society, we must name it, we must vociferously refute its teachings as incompatible with Western society, and we must not defer to its demands.

That, Mr. President, is what “using this label” would accomplish. Unfortunately, our President and our progressives have decided that offending Muslims who don’t embrace Radical Islam is of greater importance than addressing this virulence that has killed so many both at home and abroad. This reluctance to offend is so strong that it has subordinated the Left’s traditional protection of other identity groups.

Hundreds of dead people seem to carry less importance than some people’s feelings. Yes, yes, I’ve heard the arguments that naming that which must not be named may put innocents at risk, but what of all the dead innocents? Perhaps, if our leaders called the beast by its name, and stood firm against the message of the beast, some of them might still be alive.

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.


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