The New York Times’ Saturday story on the details of Wednesday’s terrorist attack contained a remarkable paragraph buried deep in the report:
In a Dallas suburb, about a dozen protesters congregated outside the Islamic Center of Irving last month, some covering their faces with bandannas and carrying hunting rifles, tactical shotguns and AR-15s. The group that organized the protest posted on Facebook a list of the names and addresses of dozens of Muslims and what they called “Muslim sympathizers.”
What? How was this not covered in real time and ubiquitously throughout mainstream media and sites leaning both left and right? How can such a threatening action not draw the attention of state and federal law enforcement, and widespread coverage?
I did some research and confirmed that it was a dozen people and it did get some attention at The Huffington Post and some minor outlets, and it really did happen. I suspect if my church had a dozen gun-wielding masked men outside of it I would feel menaced as well. Most rational people would.
The terrorist attack in San Bernardino, Calif., triggered instant politicization from the “this is a gun control issue” fringe instead of instant and patient explanation that terrorist acts committed by the American fringe of Islamist crazies tell us very, very little about Islam in America and nothing about the millions of Muslim Americans who are the best of citizens.
But a dozen pipe-bombs and a hell-bent, rage-fueled hunt for martyrdom as well as legally obtained weapons in a state where gun controls flourish ended that absurd “it’s the guns” argument. But this didn’t happen before the president, Hillary Clinton and numerous others had embarrassed themselves by politicizing a terrorist atrocity against an incredibly diverse collection of victims.
I am so alert to the “grievance con” now — Google “Kayla-Simone McKelvey” and “Kean University” — that I read this report from Texas with great skepticism. We have seen too many instances of “victims” having arranged the “evidence” of their trauma not to be skeptical.
But this Dallas report is very different — as is the one of shots fired at the Meriden, Conn., Baitul Aman mosque — from made-up, staged outrages. These were real instances of menacing because of faith, and remind us of President George W. Bush’s repeated admonition not to confuse radical Islamist terrorism with the peaceful practice of a faith tradition burdened by a large and growing fanaticism abroad and some sympathizes at home.
In a republic built upon religious freedom, W’s insistence on respecting the faith and rights of our wildly diverse religious communities was a core aspect of his presidency. But W also had enormous credibility when it came to fighting the Islamist scourge. Americans could count on the president and his team to do everything they could to detect and deter Islamist terrorism in the homeland.
In sharp contrast, President Obama won’t even name the scourge, and that almost pathological avoidance of clarity unnerves the citizens he is supposed to lead. They will not be led by foolishness and political correctness run amok. The attorney general and FBI director can do all they want to try and calm fear — there is no hysteria, no widespread explosion of anti-Muslim prejudice, but there is fear of terrorism. But the president’s absurd dance around the facts of San Bernardino feeds the perception that he isn’t serious about protecting the homeland.
That sort of void creates a space for the small number of genuine Islamophobes to flourish. The president needs to act like W, not continue his endless campaign to be the “not Bush.” That campaign brought us the exit from Iraq and the paralysis in Syria, which has produced the fountainhead of the new Islamist terror threat. Now his lassitude and fecklessness about the domestic terror threat are breeding the very thing he worries about most.
It is hard to imagine how the next 13 months could make President Obama’s legacy worse than it already, irretrievably is. But if President Obama continues to encourage anti-Islamic fear by doing nothing to name the real slice of Islam that is violent, jihadist and expansionist, he bears responsibility for the spread of the overreaction that 43 so boldly, consistently and credibly preached against from 9/11 until the end of his presidency.
Follow W’s lead, Mr. President, for the good of everyone. Here’s an idea: Invite him to the White House to borrow his credibility on the subject, for yours is spent.
This column was originally posted on WashingtonExaminer.com.