Is Islamic State opposed to gay marriage? Was anger at the US Supreme Court’s decision mandating recognition of homosexual marriage what prompted Omar Mateen to massacre fifty Americans at the gay nightclub in Orlando on Saturday night?
What about gun control? Is Islamic State, to which Mateen announced his allegiance as he mowed down innocents like blades of grass, a libertarian group that abhors limitations on private ownership of firearms?
In other words, are Islamic State and its fellow jihadists from Iran to Hamas, Hezbollah, Boko Haram and al Qaida adjuncts of the Republican Party?
Is Omar Baghdadi, the self-declared caliph at the helm of ISIS a social conservative, a libertarian and a card carrying member of the GOP, or just one of the three?
Because President Barack Obama seems to think that this is the question most Americans should be asking. In his statement on the massacre on Sunday, Obama placed Mateen’s action in the context the partisan debate on gay rights and gun control.
With regard to the former, Obama said that the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, which was the site of the attack was more than a mere nightclub. It was, “a place of solidarity and empowerment where people have come together to raise awareness, to speak their minds and to advocate for their civil rights.”
In other words, Obama intimated, the victims were murdered because Mateen opposed all of those things, specifically.
Turning to gun rights, Obama said, “The shooter was apparently armed with a handgun and a powerful assault rifle. This massacre is therefore a further reminder of how easy it is for someone to get their hands on a weapon that lets them shoot people in a school, or in a house of worship, or a movie theater, or in a nightclub. And we have to decide if that’s the kind of country we want to be. And to actively do nothing is a decision as well.”
So as the president sees things, if you oppose limitations on firearm ownership, then you’re on Mateen’s side.
To say that Obama’s behavior is unpresidential is an understatement. His behavior is dangerous. It imperils the United States and its citizens.
Adolf Hitler did not go to war against Great Britain because he opposed parliamentary democracy. Hitler went to war against Britain because he wanted to rule the world and Britain stood in his way.
Just so, Islamic jihadists are not sides in America’s domestic policy debates about gun ownership and gay rights. Islamic jihadists like Mateen, the Tsarnaev brothers from Boston, Nidal Malik Hassan at Ft. Hood, Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi at Garland, Texas, Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik in San Bernadino didn’t decide to slaughter innocents because of their passionate opposition to the liberal takeover of the US Supreme Court.
They killed Americans because they thought that doing so advances their goal of instituting the dominion of Islamic totalitarians across the world. They oppose freedom and democracy because democracy and freedom stand in the way of their goal to subordinate humanity to an Islamic caliphate.
Maybe Obama is right that more limitations on gun ownership would have limited Mateen’s ability to acquire the means to slaughter fifty people. Then again, maybe if guns were easier to come by, Mateen’s victims would have stopped him as soon as he started firing.
There are data supporting both views. A learned exchange about whether or not restrictions on gun ownership would advance or detract from the fight against Islamic violence would be worthwhile.
But to his disgrace, Obama is not remotely interested in having that debate. To the contrary, he has silenced it for nearly eight years. And as he made clear on Sunday, he has no intention of enabling such a discussion now.
The same Obama who was quick to blame permissive gun laws and anti-gay discrimination for the bloodbath, refused to mention the fact that Islam was Mateen’s expressed motive for committing the carnage.
While unforgivable, Obama’s silence on the cause of Mateen’s bloodbath was predictable. From the outset of his first term Obama has studiously avoided discussing the Islamic motivation that stands behind most of the terrorism in the US and throughout the world.
The most devastating outcome of Obama’s behavior is not necessarily the policies he has adopted to counter Islamic violence. Some of those policies are reasonable. Some of his policies are dangerous and destructive. And it is important to discuss each of them on its merits.
The most devastating, and at this point clearly premeditated, outcome of Obama’s refusal to name the cause of the violence is that he has made it illegitimate to discuss it. He has made it controversial for Americans to talk about Islamic supremacism, extremism, violence and war for world domination.
He has made substantive criticism of his policies tantamount to bigotry. And he has rendered the public debate about the most salient strategic threat to American lives, liberty and national security a partisan issue.
Today in Obama’s America, only Republicans use the terms Islamic terrorism or radicalism or jihad. Democrats pretend those things don’t exist.
Making clear the partisan assault intrinsic to Obama’s position, following his statement Sunday, Democratic Senator from Connecticut Richard Blumenthal blamed Republicans for the massacre at the Pulse.
Referring to the jihadist attack as “a public health crisis,” caused by “gun violence,” Blumenthal alleged that fifty people who went dancing in Orlando Saturday night never made it home because Republican Senators oppose Obama’s bill to limit gun ownership rights.
This sort of talk, which makes opponents of leftist policies and ideology illegitimate, is arguably Obama’s dangerous legacy.
Obama’s efforts to render discussion of Islamic violence an illegitimate topic of debate is part of his larger policy of Europeanizing American politics.
For more than a generation, the Left’s policies have reigned supreme in Europe. For leftist ideologues and politicians, controlling policies was never sufficient though. To truly rule, they set out to control the public discourse in order to delegitimize their opponents.
And they succeeded. Today it is impossible for Europeans to openly debate the policies and social forces that affect their lives.
For instance, Islamic immigration is the most pressing public policy issue in Europe today. But due to the Left’s destruction of free speech through criminal statute and social pressure, in Europe today you cannot mention the word “Islamic” in the context of the public discourse on Islamic immigration without risking social exclusion and even criminal prosecution.
Many Americans have expressed alarm, surprise and dismay at Donald Trump’s success in winning the Republican nomination. They note, angrily and to a degree, justifiably, that Trump’s policies of nationalist isolationism and economic protectionism are antithetical to the pillars of the Republican Party.
But what this storm of protest misses is that Trump’s rise to power, and his prospects for defeating Hillary Clinton in November are not fueled by popular opposition to Obama’s foreign policies, or his economic policies per se. Trump’s supporters are attracted to the outspoken businessman for reasons that eclipse the partisan discussions of those issues.
Trump’s main attraction for his supporters – millions of whom voted in the Republican primaries for the first time process — is his willingness to attack Obama’s efforts to delegitimize his political opponents. Obama’s success in making his opponents toxic has caused millions of Americans to feel shut out from the national discourse and national life.
Trump’s supporters object to Obama’s Europeanization of American politics far more than they object to his health care policies or his counter-terror policies. They see in Trump a leader who is willing to “tell it like it is,” and they are captivated by this aspect of his personality. In Trump they see a means to regain their own voice in the public square.
Trump’s supporters understand that the Pulse nightclub in Orlando didn’t become slaughterhouse because Americans disagree on gun control or gay rights. They know that it became the scene of the largest mass murder in US history because Mateen, like his fellow jihadists believed that Allah wants his followers to kill innocents to advance the cause of Islamic world domination.
Trump’s supporters are angry that Obama has made stating the obvious illegitimate. And they are right to be angry.
America must not become Europe. And the most urgent step that must be taken to preserve America as America is to make discussing reality legitimate again.