To Say, or Not To Say

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Stephen Crowley

President Obama, who met on Tuesday with the National Security Council, says the focus on the “radical Islam” phrase is “a political distraction.” Photo by Stephen Crowley for The New York Times.

Term “Radical Islam” will not remedy domestic, foreign terrorism

Dusty Hartl

June 22, 2016

 

Since the mass shooting at an Orlando gay nightclub last week, there’s been an overwhelming number of calls for President Barack Obama to call shooter Omar Mateen a “radical Islamic terrorist.”

Obama has yet to associate any act of terrorism with radical Islam –  and doesn’t have any plans to do so in the future.

Should we be calling terrorists, and foreign enemies, “radical Islamic extremists?” Some say yes.

But, as the game of politics is played, not everyone agrees.

Businessman Donald Trump, the presumptive GOP nominee, has called upon the president to resign because of his lack of willingness to use the term.

Following Trump’s statement, Obama shot back in an address to the nation – all while not saying “radical Islam.”

Instead he called the attack “an act of terror and an act of hate.” (1:05:00)

What exactly would using this label accomplish?” Obama said on June 14th. “What exactly would it change? Would it make ISIS less committed to trying to kill Americans? Would it bring in more allies? Is there a military strategy that is served by this? The answer is none of the above.”

I believe Obama is right.  As a country, we should not be trying to separate and discriminate citizens, or stereotype them for their religion. By calling a group “radical Islamic extremists,” it may cause our country to judge an entire religion, instead of just a small portion.

And it is a small portion: there are 1.6 billion Muslims throughout the world, and yet only 0.01 percent of those members identify themselves with an organization whose goal is to push a political agenda through terrorist actions.  

According to the Anti-Defamation League, there’s a potential 5,000 active members of the Klu Klux Klan. This can be viewed as a small representation of Christians, yet we do not call them “radical Christians.”

Meanwhile, presumptive Democratic nominee former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has flipped her position on the use of the term.

Following the Paris attacks, Clinton had avoided using it. Now, she’s changed her tone. (2:35)

“From my perspective, it matters what we do more than what we say,” Clinton said. “And it mattered we got bin Laden, not what name we called him.”

One can’t help but wonder if she caved on her usage of the term in order to appeal to Republican voters who aren’t so keen on Trump – but that’s a debate for a different day.

While Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) has given Obama his fair share of criticism throughout his bid for the presidency, he does back the sitting president on this issue.

“The Muslim people did not commit this act,” Sanders said in The Hill, a Washington, D.C.-based newspaper. “A man named Omar Mateen did. To blame an entire religion for the acts of a single individual is nothing less than bigotry, and that is not what this country is supposed to be about.”

While many believe that using this phrase will help fight terrorism, I disagree. Many of the “terrorists” that we face are not Islamic at all.

According to Vox, 80 percent of terror attacks since 9/11 have been Americans.

Of the 28 deadly homegrown terrorist attacks, only 10 of those attacks were related to Islamic extremism,” said Sarah Frostenson.

“The other 18 attacks were led by right-wing extremists, including, the mass shooting that killed three and wounded nine at a Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs, Colorado,” she added.

The choice to use the word, or not, is in the eyes of the individual, but with the overwhelming pressure to identify, and fight the enemy, it might not be long before “radical Islam” is a household statement.

Using this phrase can be harmful to our fight against ISIS and other foreign powers. The world is watching us, including those who wish to do us harm, so we what should we be saying?

Should we condone the use of “radical Islam,” what will they be hearing?