We can put to rest the notion that State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf committed a gaffe when she said that more jobs would keep Islamic militants from their genocidal mission.
Following the Islamic State’s beheading of 21 Egyptian Christians in Libya, she said: “We cannot win this war by killing them, we cannot kill our way out of this war. We need to go after the root causes that lead people to join these groups, whether it’s lack of opportunity for jobs.”
She was just giving the company line.
In a Feb. 19 Wall Street Journal opinion article, “Our Plan for Countering Violent Extremism,” Ms. Harf’s boss, Secretary of State John F. Kerry, proclaimed that such killers are, indeed, victims of bad governance. If only we can “target our resources to meet the specific needs of those places” that hatch terrorists, we can end the madness, Mr. Kerry explained.
“Eliminating the terrorists of today with force will not guarantee protection from the terrorists of tomorrow,” he wrote. “We have to transform the environments that give birth to these movements.”
Imagine Winston Churchill speaking like that, even for a moment, as German bombs were falling on London.
“What the Nazi extremists need is a good urban renewal program,” Mr. Churchill, armed with Mr. Kerry’s insights, would have said while chomping a cigar and sketching out a midnight basketball schedule for Hamburg’s unfortunates.
In his article, Mr. Kerry used the terms “extremist,” “violent extremist” or “extremism” 12 times, never linking them to militant Islam. Never mind that the title of a video of the Christians’ beheadings by the Libyan branch of the Islamic State leaves no doubt as to the religious motive: “A Message Signed with Blood to the Nation of the Cross.”
It’s not about religion, you see. It’s about lack of upward mobility.
“The most basic issue is good governance,” Mr. Kerry elaborates. “It may not sound exciting, but it is vital. People who feel that their government will provide for their needs, not just its own, and give them a chance at a better life are far less likely to strap on an AK-47 or a suicide vest, or to aid those who do.”
I guess that means the ponytailed guy at the Bush-Perot-Clinton debate in 1992 who famously asked how the candidates would “meet our needs” as “symbolically the children of our future president” probably won’t become a terrorist, since Mr. Clinton assured him that the government would be there for him.
Mr. Kerry’s exercise in rhetorical fantasy mirrors the theme of last week’s White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism, where President Obama pointedly avoided using the terms “radical Islamists” or “militant Islamists.” To be fair, he didn’t connect any terror dots to militant Amish farmers or radical Episcopalians, either. Instead, he described the perpetrators of massacres, rapes and crucifixions, even of children, as “not religious leaders, they’re terrorists. And we are not at war with Islam. We are at war with people who have perverted Islam.”
A colleague of mine, Jan LaRue, points out in an American Thinker column that if the ongoing massacres and bombings all over the world have nothing to do with Islam, then why are the Guantanamo Bay terrorists given Korans, prayer rugs, special halal meals and other Islamic amenities? Osama bin Laden, who killed 3,000 people in the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, was given a Muslim burial at sea. Why, if he was not really a Muslim?
Likewise, the president quickly condemned the murders of three Muslims in North Carolina as a religion-caused hate crime before authorities have determined the motive. But he described an Islamist attack on a Jewish market in Paris as the work of those “who randomly shoot a bunch of folks” and said later that acts of violence “have been committed against people of different faiths, by people of different faiths .”
The quotable Ms. Harf again helped out last Wednesday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” by describing Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army, the Ugandan terrorist outfit, as a “Christian militant group.” We can’t mention Islam, but we can bemoan “Christian” militants?
Never mind that Kony’s group, which kidnaps children to turn them into killers, is anything but Christian and includes animism in its own weird religious concoction. By contrast, Islamic terrorists consistently cite the Koran as they burn and decapitate prisoners.
The perception problem here is rooted in the liberal, secular mindset, especially in the media, which will not hold the Obama administration accountable for its kid glove treatment of militant Islam. Unable to comprehend the power of spirituality, the liberal worldview shoves all religions under the same umbrella while fostering its own pseudo-religion of materialism. Through that lens, it makes perfect sense to believe that more government programs are the key to helping humanity evolve to a higher level and thereby stopping terrorist attacks.
It’s understandable for the Obama administration to try to avoid alienating the many Muslim-governed nations with whom we must work to stop the Islamic State, Boko Haram, the Taliban, al Qaeda and other murderous Islamist groups.
Still, the president’s insistence that the real problem is a matter of economics shows either how naive he is or how far he is willing to stretch the truth for his own purposes.
At this darkening hour, we need a Winston Churchill, not a new-age Neville Chamberlain.
• Robert Knight is a senior fellow for the American Civil Rights Union and a columnist for The Washington Times.