I can't do better than Victor Davis Hanson, but I can quote him. Why won't the current administration accurately label and expose the Islamic roots of global terrorism? Hanson proposes the following possible explanations:
The Obama administration knows full well that the Taliban, ISIS, al Qaeda, Boko Haram and the rest of the pack draw their zeal from the Koran. But to say such might turn off two or three useful constituencies — the hard Left at home that hates any judgmentalism, “moderate” Muslims in the Middle East who are essential to nullifying the “radicals” in their midst, and the global community that is always suspicious when America goes to war against a particular group or ideology. The Obama administration with a wink-and-nod, then, accepts radical Islam as the problem, but for strategic reasons, and in the manner occasionally of the Bush administration, prefers euphemisms. Nonetheless, the administration goes on Predatoring thousands of suspected Islamic terrorists even as it won’t say what its targeted victims all have in common. Given that Americans know that the enemy is radical Islam, why turn off potential allies by reiterating that fact?
The Obama administration is terrified of radical Islamic terrorism, in the manner that Europeans are — and were scared stiff in the 1930s of Nazi Germany. They know full well that caricaturing Islam is dangerous in a way joking about other religions is not. They are afraid of more televised beheadings, more torturing, and more Benghazis. If they can blame a pathetic U.S. resident for making a video for the deaths in Benghazi, then perhaps the appreciative Islamist culprits will leave it at one harvest at Benghazi (especially before the 2012 elections). If the Taliban sense that Obama will not dare to call them terrorists, then maybe they will negotiate in good faith and enter a stable “coalition” government when we depart entirely from Afghanistan. Bowing to a Saudi royal might assuage his anger at the U.S. Carefully avoiding reference any longer to Syrian regime change might win back Assad to our side. When we don’t condemn “Islamic terrorism,” then perhaps even ISIS mutters, “Hmmm, these Americans are not that bad after all; shoot rather than behead the next hostage.”
Note that essential characteristic of appeasement, the narcissism of the appeaser: An FDR lecturing Churchill that he alone had the skills to win over “Uncle Joe” Stalin, a Jimmy Carter’s unique understanding of Iranian theocracy that as thanks would release the hostages, and the locus classicus of Neville Chamberlain alone with the fluency and sensitivity to make Herr Hitler see what is in his real interest. So, too, only the Peace Prize winner Obama can suavely appease radical Islam and convince them why leaving America alone suits their interest as well. The more we accommodate radical Islamists through euphemism and circumlocution, the more likely they might just go away.
III. Postmodern Therapy
The Obama administration has a fuzzy therapeutic view of human nature in general, as does much of America by now. There is no “welfare” anymore, just “pubic assistance” or better “health and human services.” Beau Bergdahl is confused and complex, hardly a “traitor,” a slur that leaves no room for nuance. The purpose of language is not disinterested and accurate description; rather, language is employed for the political, whether you know it or not.
So the unwillingness to use the world “Islam” in connection with global terrorism simply reflects the leftwing, relativist view that nothing is ever absolute. There is not good versus evil, failure or success, but only gradations that are conditioned by the preexisting prejudices of elites who make up these categories largely to protect their own privilege. Generalization is always reactionary stereotyping. “Islam” or “Muslim” hardly can characterize 400 million people from Indonesia to Dubai. (To be fair, I think the Left’s postmodern relativism is itself mostly political and ad hoc; after all, it often enjoys blanket categorization and has no problem with disparagement like “Republicans,” “tea-baggers,” “conservatives,” “males,” or “whites” as inclusive terms that serve well enough to stereotype millions — or for that matter “gays” and “women” in the hagiographic sense.) “Islam” and “Muslim” are meaninglessly vague, and are used as pejoratives rather than descriptive terms; like most of our race/class/gender vocabulary these rubrics cannot be used as inclusive terms when the aim is not laudatory.
IV. Multicultural Understanding
Finally, perhaps the Obama administration does not see us in a war at all or at least a righteous conflict against cold-blooded religious fanatics from the Islamic world. While it disproves of the methodology of terrorism, it is ambiguous about the origins of such anti-Western rage. Thus Obama chose to skip the march after the Paris killings in a way he would not miss going overseas to lobby for a Chicago Olympics. Collate the apology tour, the initial Al Arabiya interview, and the Cairo speech, and perhaps add in the relevant passages from Dreams from My Father and keen voluntary attendance at Rev. Wright’s sermons. What arises is a consistent Obama worldview that the present U.S.-inspired global order is not fair, but rather fuelled by neo-colonialism, past imperialism, racism, and capitalist exploitation, Western but especially American in nature. In such a moral landscape, obviously some liberationists, revolutionaries, reformers and dissidents will go too far, in the manner that Castro killed or jailed a bit too many or Arafat himself was on occasion a little bit too much the killer.
But as Andrew Young once said of Khomeini that he “will be somewhat of a saint when we get over the panic,” so, too, the Obama administration more or less understands why young men in the Middle East take up arms against the U.S. Note the leftwing hatred of American Sniper, or Michael Moore’s (the object of hero-worship at the Democratic Convention of 2004) rationale for September 11 (“If someone did this [9/11] to get back at Bush, then they did so by killing thousands of people who DID NOT VOTE for him! Boston, New York, D.C., and the planes’ destination of California — these were places that voted AGAINST Bush!”). In the world of Michael Moore’s leftism, the problem was not that Islamists had killed Americans, but rather that they blew up the wrong Americans who were against what the other bad red-state Americans — quite deserving of death — had done.
The point is not that the administration simply sympathizes with radical Islamists or thinks in lockstep with a Michael Moore or Bill Ayers, only that it is intellectually, politically, and culturally unable to damn entirely the Islamist cause by dubbing it “terrorism” or Islamism, given the complexity of past Western culpability for the present mess of the Middle East.
Why do they hate us? For Obama, it is not because of Islamic self-induced pathologies that are the logical result of entrenched tribalism, gender apartheid, religious fundamentalism and intolerance, statism, anti-Semitism, and autocracy, which can only lead to stagnation, poverty, and repression that in turn present as envy, jealousy and hatred of the West.
No, the West is responsible for the lack of parity, and thus the anger of the Middle East is somewhat legitimate and understandable. Just as Obama has apologized for Western culpability of Middle East pathologies, so, too, he does not necessarily see Islamic terrorists as primordial enemies driven on by religious zealotry, as much as variants of more legitimate groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, and the Palestinian Authority.