When Omar Mateen called 911 during his shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, the man pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (ISIS) and repeated the common Islamic phrase “Allah the merciful,” but those phrases did not appear in the transcript of the call published by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on Monday morning.
On Sunday, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, the head of the Justice Department, explicitly said the FBI, which is under her jurisdiction, would doctor the text of the transcripts to remove the Islamic State. But more telling is what she did not say — not only were the mentions of ISIS taken out, but the word “Allah” was altered to read “God” instead.
Here is a sample of the transcription:
Orlando Police Dispatcher (OD)
OD: Emergency 911, this is being recorded.
OM: In the name of God the Merciful, the beneficial [in Arabic]
OM: Praise be to God, and prayers as well as peace be upon the prophet of God [in Arabic]. I let you know, I’m in Orlando and I did the shootings.
OD: What’s your name?
OM: My name is I pledge allegiance to [omitted].
OD: OK, What’s your name?
OM: I pledge allegiance to [omitted] may God protect him [in Arabic], on behalf of [omitted].
This is quite a revealing alteration. When Chuck Todd asked Lynch what was going to be left out, she responded, “What we’re not going to do is further proclaim this man’s pledges of allegiance to terrorist groups and further his propaganda.” She later said this doctoring was done to “avoid revictimizing those who went through this horror.”
How does she explain the alteration of the name “Allah”? Would it be “revictimizing” survivors to mention the Islamic name of God? Would it be cow-towing to Mateen’s “propaganda”? Or maybe it would suggest the bare obvious fact that Omar Mateen did the evils that he did in the name of Islam and the Muslim deity, whose name is Allah.
You could argue that the FBI was merely translating the Arabic word for “God” into the English word for “God,” but that would be like translating the Christian “God” into “Krishna” or the Hebrew “G-d” into “Jupiter.” It is not a pure translation, because the different names have different meanings, even in the same language.
No, they translated “Allah” into “God” in order to silence the unavoidable truth — that the horrid murders in Orlando were part of radical Islamic terror, not just some lone wolf totally unconnected to that specific religion.
Ironically, this strategy is like to reinforce the impact of ISIS, not downplay the organization. President Obama’s now-explicitly-stated policy is refusing to use the words “radical Islamic terror” as if it were the ideology-that-must-not-be-named.
Next Page: Why the Voldemort strategy is doomed to failure.
As J.K. Rowling put it in her Harry Potter series, “fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself.” The Dark Lord Voldemort even goes so far as to “hex” his name, so that anyone saying it would set off a spell, enabling evil forces to trace them and find their whereabouts.
Obama declared that “there’s no magic to the phrase ‘radical Islam.’ It’s a political talking point; it’s not a strategy.” But the only one treating the phrase as a magic word is the president himself — unless explicitly refusing to use the phrase is itself a “strategy.” Perhaps he intends to drive a wedge between the terrorists and other more peaceful proponents of Islam.
This is a good overall strategy, but the tactic is all wrong. Deleting ISIS from the transcript and saying “God” instead of “Allah” will not drive a wedge between peaceful Muslims and radical terrorists, but emphasize the faith by raising further questions. One can only hope that Obama isn’t planning to link conservative Christians with heinous attacks like the one in Orlando, like the ACLU and this CNN contributor did.
As The Federalist’s Mollie Hemingway pointed out, this is a key example of the “Streisand effect,” by which “an attempt to hide, remove, or censor a piece of information has the unintended consequence of publicizing the information more widely, usually facilitated by the Internet.”
If downplaying ISIS and its connection to Islam is your goal, “removing information that the public eventually has access to in Florida, and going on talk shows to announce that you’ve deleted countervailing information from the transcript” is not the way to achieve it, Hemingway added.
This is one of the many ways how Obama’s presidency has given birth to Donald Trump’s overblown crusade against political correctness. This liberal censoring of the truth has increased the demand for unabashed truth-telling, and Trump meets that demand by twisting the truth in a different way — by overblowing statements, getting the press to cover him 24/7, and walking them back in order to become more palatable.
Before 2016, this strategy might have gotten you headlines. Now, it gets you the Republican presidential nomination. Thanks, Obama.