WHY NAMING RADICAL ISLAM MATTERS

WHY NAMING RADICAL ISLAM MATTERS

It is a ritual that has become all too familiar.   A gunman claiming to act on behalf of Islam, or ISIS, or simply shouting “Allahu Akbar” murders numerous people.  President Obama condemns the atrocity as workplace violence, extremist violence, or even terrorism, but studiously avoids using the terms “radical Islamic terrorism” or “jihad.”   It then becomes a deeply partisan issue as conservative politicians and other commentators point this out, and argue that his failure to name radical Islamic terrorism for what it is reflects a fundamental failure of his policy for dealing with it.  If he cannot even name it, he will never defeat it.  Indeed, the whole matter has played out most sharply in the recent exchanges between Obama, Donald Trump, and Hillary Clinton after the tragic shooting in Orlando.

But does it really matter?  Does this dispute identify a substantive issue, or is it useless wrangling over words or nothing more than a game of political ping-pong?

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The Massacre in Boston

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Big-city road races are one of the great delights of life, so it is with deep sadness that I have been reading about the Boston Marathon tragedy in the last couple of days.  My thoughts and prayers have gone out to the victims of the bombing and I certainly have felt a good deal of shock as well.  I’ve never run Boston before, but I have run the Chicago marathon and also countless other 5k and 10k road races.  The finish line is normally a place of great exhilaration and accomplishment.  So it is with particular grief that I think about the mindset of evil that could have masterminded a random act of violence of this kind – an act whose sole purpose seemed to be to kill or maim the greatest possible number of people at a time of great festivities. Continue reading

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