And we wonder why we’re losing the war against Islamic terrorism? Here’s what our fearless leader, President Obama, said the other day at a prayer breakfast:
Unless we get on our high horse and think that this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ. In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ. So it is not unique to one group or one religion. There is a tendency in us, a simple tendency that can pervert and distort our faith.
Many Christian conservatives are all up in arms for the wrong reason. They argue that Obama’s references are historically inaccurate. Whether that’s true or not isn’t the point, not in 2015 when many of our lives, and the well-being of Western civilization itself, are threatened by savage religious fundamentalists.
The most intelligent and coherent reply to Obama’s comment that I encountered came from Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, who said:
“It was nice of the President to give us a history lesson at the Prayer Breakfast. Today, however, the issue right in front of his nose, in the here and now, is the terrorism of radical Islam, the assassination of journalists, the beheading and burning alive of captives.
“We will be happy to keep an eye out for runaway Christians, but it would be nice if he would face the reality of the situation today. The medieval Christian threat is under control, Mr. President. Please deal with the radical Islamic threat today.” [Sources for quotes: breitbart.com, newsmax.com]
That’s exactly it.
Ever since 9/11, the United States has been losing the war against terrorism. This is because you cannot fight a tactic. A “war against terrorism” is a fight against a tactic. The last administration came up with this phrase because, like the present one, it didn’t want to name the fact that it’s a religious ideology that’s attacking buildings, people, lives and Western values.
You don’t fight tactics. You fight governments or groups whose aggressive actions are based on ideas. You don’t shy away from rejecting those ideas. Imagine a victory in the Civil War without reference to the immorality of slavery. Imagine a victory in the American Revolution without a reference to the morality of individual rights espoused by Jefferson, Paine and others.
Yet, under George W. Bush, America tried to fight a war against “terrorism” without ever naming the enemy. Obama does not wish to even call it terrorism.
Western values, by the way, include an adherence to the separation of church and state, itself an application of the principle of individual rights outlined by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence.
Obama’s comments at the prayer breakfast amount to little more than, “Don’t be too hard on the terrorists who behead people in the name of Islam. Christians did it too.”
So what does that have to do with anything now? Are we to take that our response to these kidnappings, beheadings and explosive detonations against innocent civilians should be tepid or nonexistent because, hundreds of years ago, people (actually or allegedly) did the exact same things in the name of a different religion?
These comments of Obama’s can only have one intention: To foster unearned guilt in the victims of present-day terrorism. We’re supposed to think, “Oh, I’m a Christian. My ancestors did these same things 500 years ago. That makes me a bad person.”
What do the actions of Christians 500 years ago have to do with the actions of Christians today? Those were different times and different people.
And what about those who are not Christians? There are Jews, other people who consider themselves spiritual though not religious, as well as many agnostics and atheists. Are they supposed to feel guilty too, for the actions of Christians 500 years ago, even though they don’t even consider themselves Christian?
Obama’s comments reveal some horrendously faulty premises. One of the worst is his premise that guilt is collective and spans the centuries. It’s kind of the same thing as saying that white people today are morally responsible for the actions of white people who promoted or condoned slavery in the United States 200 years ago. A similar error would consist of holding a family member responsible for the murderous or treacherous actions of another family member, because of blood relations.
This collective approach to guilt is primitive and tribal. There’s nothing progressive or enlightened about it. It’s truly amazing and infuriating that someone like President Obama gets away with it, never challenged on this point, rarely criticized, never held accountable.
Governor Jindal’s comments are an attempt to bring Obama back to objective reality — back to the present crisis, and the life-or-death necessity of focusing on how best to handle it instead of dithering the time away on “peace” talks with holy war-advocating and terrorism-loving governments like Iran.
America is slowly perishing from a mentality of unearned guilt. The proof of that mentality is that someone like Obama holds the high office he does. A confident and morally self-assured people would not have someone like this in power (and his predecessor was not much better in this respect, by the way.)
Unearned guilt consists of accepting responsibility for actions that are not in any way your fault. Everyone in the United States is a potential victim of Islamic-inspired terrorism. These violent groups do not merely protect what they believe to be their rightful home territory; they righteously go on the attack in the most brutal, sadistic and barbaric ways imaginable (beheadings, slow torture, hostage-taking) in order to punish “infidels,” i.e. anyone who dares to live their lives in a way offensive to their religion.
Imagine if Christian or Jewish fundamentalists did the same thing on the scale now done by Islamic fundamentalists. It seems unlikely that President Obama would be as tepid or unearned guilt-inducing in his comments. He’d probably go after them with the full force of our military, based on the moral conviction that these terrorizing religious fundamentalists have no right to impose their views in such a horrific way on masses of people. And he’d be right to do so.
The question remains: Why does fundamentalist Islam get a free pass?