- - Monday, March 28, 2016

Baseball requires brains as well as brawn, and the tango is erotic without vulgarity. The president of the United States, whoever he is, is entitled to indulge both. Only a churl would begrudge Democrat or Republican enjoying a season behind the third base line or a season on the dance floor with a beautiful woman in his arms. But everything has its rightful season.

Fear and loathing is in season, too, as Europe and indeed the civilized world stands in fear and trembling in the wake of the latest violence by radical Islamic terrorists, this time in Belgium and Pakistan. Even as the blood was cleaned from the walls of the waiting room at the Brussels airport, the president was “doing the wave” with Raul Castro at a baseball game in Havana, and departing soon after for Argentina and a lesson in the art of the tango. All the while, horror grows on both sides of the Atlantic.

There’s never a scarcity of outrage. By reliable accounts, ISIS carried through with a threat on Good Friday to crucify a Roman Catholic priest it had kidnapped in Yemen, mocking both the priest and Christians everywhere on the holiest of Christian holidays. The Taliban, allies of ISIS, killed 60 persons in Pakistan in another radical Islamic affront to decency.

The president makes brief statements about the depth of the tragedy and his intention to make the destruction of the terrorist network his highest priority in policymaking. The empty ritual is familiar now, and impresses no one. His insistence that the terrorist threat is not “existential” to U.S. security belies a lack of seriousness. The president’s insistence that the terrorists are on the run is obviously wishful thinking. The attacks continue, numbering now more 175 across the globe, along with the growing amalgamation of terrorist groups in Africa and Asia.

The president’s partisans argue that the aim of the terrorists is to disrupt lives and purposeful routines — to lend importance to their acts of violence would accomplish just that. American life has, indeed, not been much affected by these terrorist episodes. Not yet. Life does go on, but each attack further erodes the lives of all. The administration argues that closer attention to atrocity would create a hysteria that would focus prejudice and violence against the Muslim minority in America. The restraint of the Christian nation is remarkable, and the accusation of “Islamophobia” against efforts to identify the origins of radical Islamic terrorism only paralyzes the needed effort to eliminate it.

If the poison of radical Islam is to be eliminated, the Muslims themselves, in the Middle East and elsewhere, must do more to pursue the terrorists. The Saudis finance hundreds of mosques in the United States and the West that tolerate and encourage religious hatred and violence. Qatar is a chief sponsor of the Muslim Brotherhood, the source of much Muslim misery. Many good and peaceful Muslims who are eager to eliminate the terrorists in their midst — radical Islam has killed far more Muslims than Christians and Jews — will be grateful for effective help from the West.

The president’s doing the wave and dancing the tango are largely irrelevant to the struggle against radical Islamic terrorism (which the president cannot bring himself to call by its rightful name), but gestures are important. The president’s stubborn refusal to see things as they are contributes in a profound way to the difficulty of eliminating this worldwide scourge. So far, in his effort against ISIS, he has hit only pop flies to the infield.

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