When French President Francois Hollande met with President Barack Obama at the White House on Thursday to share ideas on how the two countries can fight Islamist terrorism, it probably didn’t occur to him that saying the words “Islamist terrorism” would be a problem. But in the Obama White House, putting the word “Islamist” (or Islamic) next to the word “terrorism” is a faux pas worthy of being struck from the record.
Via the Federalist:
While the official transcript available on the White House web page includes Hollande’s use of the phrase “Islamist terrorism,” the White House video of the remarks muted the audio during that portion of Hollande’s remarks. The audio of the French-to-English interpreter stops right before Hollande characterizes “Islamist terrorism” as the root of terrorism in Syria and Iraq.
“But we’re also well aware that the roots of terrorism, Islamist terrorism, is in Syria and in Iraq,” Hollande told Obama, according to the transcript of the exchange provided by the White House. “We therefore have to act both in Syria and in Iraq, and this is what we’re doing within the framework of the coalition.”
Blogger “Allahpundit” made the point at Hot Air that Hollande actually chose the term carefully for the sake of accuracy. And it was still rejected by the Obama White House.
You know what the worst part is? Hollande didn’t say “Islamic terrorism,” which is the supposedly objectionable term. He said “Islamist terrorism.” “Islamist” was, I thought, a term that came into use precisely because it gave the speaker an efficient way to distinguish between “moderate Muslims” and the more jihad-minded. “Islamic” describes all things Muslim; “Islamist” describes a supremacist view in which Islam is the highest authority of the state. Many critics of Islam would dispute that there’s a meaningful distinction between those two, but Obama and Hollande certainly wouldn’t. ISIS may not be Islamic to Obama but it’s certainly Islamist. Point being, Hollande chose his words carefully here according to the White House transcript so as not to conflate the average Muslim with the jihadis he’s discussing — and the White House still censored him. That’s the point we’re at.
A French paper noticed the omission and wondered if it was a “technical problem or a real deliberate act of censorship.”
The White House has not definitely said. But it’s all the same a strange moment that Francois Hollande experienced, Thursday March 31 at Washington, even if the President of France wasn’t fully aware of it.
Throughout his entire tenure as president, Obama has been famously allergic to using the words “Islamic or “Islamist” in connection with jihadism, preferring instead to use the politically correct phrase “violent extremism.” The Obama administration takes the same position as Muslim activists: that Islam is a peaceful religion that has been hijacked by extremists like ISIS.
But as former Assistant U.S. Attorney in New York Andrew McCarthy noted here at PJ Media last December, jihadists haven’t hijacked anything. Their behavior has been amazingly consistent since the birth of Islam.
They are motivated by a scripture-based doctrinal command to impose sharia — Islam’s societal framework and legal code, which is the necessary precondition to Islamicizing a society and, ultimately, establishing a caliphate. That is why they kill today, it is why they killed in 2003, in 1993, in 1800, in 1565, in 1064, in 732, and so on all the way back to the raids Muhammad himself led in the seventh century. The technology and tactics of violent jihadism have changed over time; the nature of it has been the same for nearly a millennium-and-a-half.
Obama has shown no learning curve on this issue over the past seven and a half years so it’s silly to expect him to change now, but it is shocking and embarrassing that he would treat the French president this way, as his country is currently facing a greater threat of Islamic terrorism than ours.
UPDATE: In a statement to The Blaze on Friday the White House blamed technical problems for the missing audio. “A technical issue with the audio during the recording of President Hollande’s remarks led to a brief drop in the audio recording of the English interpretation,” a White House official said in a statement provided to TheBlaze. “As soon as this was brought to our attention, we posted an updated video online with the complete audio, which is consistent with the written transcript we released yesterday.”