Radical Muslims detonated a car bomb outside a Coptic Christian church in Alexandria, Egypt, on Saturday, killing 21 and wounding many others. The White House condemned the attack as a “barbaric and heinous act” but - true to form - remained silent on the jihadist motives of its perpetrators.
The car bombing marked an escalation in an ongoing siege against Egypt’s oldest indigenous religious community, which previously had been subjected primarily to shootings and vandalism. The White House admitted the bombing targeted Christian worshippers, and if something similar took place in this country it would be called a hate crime, with the perpetrators and their reasons for conducting the attack precisely described. The Obama administration, however, is committed to the intellectually insupportable argument that the best way to combat jihadist terrorism is to ignore its Islamic content. It is the equivalent of telling police to solve crimes by looking into means and opportunity but ignoring motive.
The White House further watered down the impact of the attack in Egypt by combining that condemnation with another denouncing a same-day terror attack on a military barracks in Abuja, Nigeria. The latter bombing was probably the work of a radical Muslim sect called Boko Haram (“forbidden Western knowledge”), also known as the Nigerian Taliban, but the president chose not to point any of that out, either. Also left unmentioned was the church that the jihadists burned that day in the city of Maiduguri, or the dozens that Boko Haram killed in a series of Christmas Eve bombings in central Nigeria.
On Friday, the State Department condemned attacks by gunmen on Iraqi Christians and took the opportunity belatedly to mention the Oct. 31 bombing at the Our Lady of Salvation Catholic Church in Baghdad that killed 58. The bombing was credited to an al Qaeda affiliate organization, not that anyone would learn that from the State Department.
The Obama administration’s blinders to the motives behind these attacks are part of Mr. Obama’s larger strategy of outreach to the world’s Muslims, the belief being that discussing the radical Islamic ideology adhered to by jihadist terrorists only creates misunderstandings. This outreach effort has proved to be a dead end. Public approval of the United States in most Muslim-majority countries has reset to the extremely low level it was before Mr. Obama became president, and in some cases is even lower.
By leaving some doubt as to the identity and motives of the attackers, the White House leaves room for the conspiratorial-minded to fill in the blanks with their own pet theories. In Egypt, there is already a widespread belief, disseminated by a variety of voices in the press, government, the religious establishment and outsiders like the Iranian regime, that the anti-Christian bombing was the work of the Israeli secret service. When the United States fails to take a position in situations like this, it’s official silence can be read as tacit acceptance.
In incidents of terrorism foreign and domestic - such as the Fort Hood massacre, underwear bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab and Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad - the Islamist reasons for the attacks remain officially unstated. The White House, of course, knows the root cause of the threat; it simply refuses to admit it. Anti-Christian violence is swelling in Egypt, Iraq, Nigeria and Pakistan, among other places, but the White House dares not say why.
Enthralled with visions of an ideal world of religious peace, the president cannot face the growing signs of religious war. Every day Mr. Obama ignores reality, the terrorists grow stronger.