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Why It’s So Hard for Obama to Call Terrorism Terrorism

Notwithstanding the incontrovertible, seemingly undeniable evidence that the terrorist attack against Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris was a terrorist attack, the Obama White House initially engaged in its maddening practice of refusing to state the obvious for fear of offending Muslims.

As the Weekly Standard’s Daniel Halper reports, Obama spokesman Josh Earnest insisted on labeling as “an act of violence” the murder of a dozen people by Allahu-Akbar!-screaming gunmen. When CNN pointed out that French President Francois Hollande had, without hesitation, described the atrocity as an “act of terrorism,” Earnest spluttered that “if based on this investigation it turns out to be an act of terrorism, we would condemn that in the strongest possible terms, too” – but he declined to draw that conclusion.

Reports of this exchange obviously embarrassed the White House. Subsequently, the president issued a statement that categorically referred to the mass-murder as “this terrorist attack” and the gunmen as “terrorists.”

Still, it is clear that Earnest had simply been following established administration practice – the shenanigans that, in the leading example, gave us “workplace violence” after the jihadist murder of 13 soldiers at Fort Hood.

Why is the administration so reluctant to call terrorism terrorism? Because the president has taken to absurd lengths a practice, started in the Bush administration, of avoiding words that associate violence with Islam – indeed, that connote an Islamic justification for violence.

In the Bush days, this PC-drivel held that we should avoid terms like “jihad,” “Islamo-fascist,” and “mujahideen” (jihadist warriors) because they implicitly accorded terrorists an esteemed status and legitimized their brutality – as if Islamic supremacists cared what we think; as if their perception of legitimacy hinged on the words used by the enemies they despise rather than their own doctrine.

Under Obama, the purge has extended to the word “terrorism” itself. It is to be avoided because “terrorism” has been so frequently uttered in conjunction with “Islam” that a causal connection might be inferred.

You don’t say!

Of course, one who studied Islamic doctrine might point out that the scriptures invoke the word “terror” in explicitly endorsing wars of conquest against non-Muslims (see, e.g., the Koran’s Sura 3:151: “Soon shall We cast terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers …”; Sura 8:12: “I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them”; Bukhari Hadith 52:220: “Allah’s Apostle said … ‘I have been made victorious with terror.’”) But why study the ideology of Islamic supremacists? After all, we’ve got the feel-good dogma of Western progressives, who insist that terrorism is not only unrelated to Islam but is, in fact, “anti-Islamic activity,” as former British Home Secretary Jacqui Smith maintained.