Right-wing media attack Brennan over uncontroversial statements about jihad

››› ››› OLIVER WILLIS

Right-wing media have claimed Obama administration counterterrorism adviser John Brennan's statement that jihad is a "legitimate tenet of Islam" is "absurd" and frightening" and indicates Brennan is "deranged." But former President George W. Bush similarly stated that extremists "distort the idea of jihad" to support their terrorist acts.

Brennan: "Our enemy is al-Qaeda," U.S. doesn't identify "our enemy as jihadists" because jihad is "a legitimate tenet of Islam"

Brennan: U.S. doesn't "describe our enemy as jihadists or Islamists because jihad is holy struggle, a legitimate tenet of Islam meaning to purify oneself of one's community." In a May 26 speech to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Brennan said that the U.S. doesn't "describe our enemy as jihadists or Islamists because jihad is holy struggle, a legitimate tenet of Islam meaning to purify oneself of one's community" and that "It would play into the false perception that they are religious leaders defending a holy cause when in fact, they are nothing more than murderers, including the murder of thousands upon thousands of Muslims." Brennan also said that "Our enemy is al-Qaida and its terrorist affiliates. For it was al-Qaida who attacked us so viciously on 9/11 and whose desire to attack the United States, our allies and our partners remains undiminished."

From Brennan's speech:

The president's strategy is absolutely clear about the threat we face. Our enemy is not terrorism because terrorism is but a tactic. Our enemy is not terror because terror is a state of mind and, as Americans, we refuse to live in fear. Nor do we describe our enemy as jihadists or Islamists because jihad is holy struggle, a legitimate tenet of Islam meaning to purify oneself of one's community.

And there is nothing holy or legitimate or Islamic about murdering innocent men, women and children. Indeed, characterizing our adversaries this way would actually be counterproductive. It would play into the false perception that they are religious leaders defending a holy cause when in fact, they are nothing more than murderers, including the murder of thousands upon thousands of Muslims.

This is why Muslim leaders around the world have spoken out forcefully and often at great risk to their own lives to reject al-Qaida and violent extremism. And frankly, their condemnations often do not get the recognition they deserve, including from the media.

Moreover, describing our enemy in religious terms would lend credence to the lie propagated by al-Qaida and its affiliates to justify terrorism, that the United States is somehow at war against Islam. The reality, of course, is that we have never been and will never be at war with Islam. After all, Islam, like so many faiths, is part of America.

Instead, the president's strategy is clear and precise. Our enemy is al-Qaida and its terrorist affiliates. For it was al-Qaida who attacked us so viciously on 9/11 and whose desire to attack the United States, our allies and our partners remains undiminished. And it is its affiliates who have take up al-Qaida's call to arms against the United States and other parts of the world.

The president's strategy is unequivocal with regard to our posture. The United States of America is at war. We are at war against al-Qaida and its terrorist affiliates. That is why the president is responsibly ending the war in Iraq, which had nothing to do with 9/11 and why he has refocused our efforts on Afghanistan, where al-Qaida continues to plot from the tribal regions along the border with Pakistan and inside of Pakistan

Brennan: "Violent extremism" is "a more encompassing term." In a question-and-answer session after his speech, Brennan said,"We have tried to expand the framework when we talk about terrorism and counterterrorism efforts, to include the concern we have about violent extremism, which is a more encompassing term, in many respects." From the question-and-answer session:

Q: Sima Imaud with the Open Society Institute. Mr. Brennan, I'm really heartened by the government's change, in terms of the language usage of "jihadist" and "Islamist" and was similarly heartened by your talk at NYU in February. I wonder if there's been any thought about rethinking, frankly, the usage of the words "terrorism" and "terrorist," which, at present, seem to be defined by the government and the media as acts of violence exclusively perpetuated by Muslims.

MR. BRENNAN: We have tried to expand the framework when we talk about terrorism and counterterrorism efforts, to include the concern we have about violent extremism, which is a more encompassing term, in many respects. Unfortunately, a number of these terms have become just part of our lexicon in the United States. What we can't do, though, is just to leave it at that one, single term.

Conservative blogs, Fox News say Brennan comments are "frightening," "absurd," "deranged"

Hannity: "With this kind of adviser, it's no wonder the Anointed One is having such a big problem facing up to our enemies" On his May 27 Fox News program, Sean Hannity said that Brennan, "who is becoming notorious for his absurd statements about the war on terror," was "at it again." After airing a portion of Brennan's comments, Hannity commented that "with this kind of adviser, it's no wonder the Anointed One is having such a big problem facing up to our enemies." During a later segment, Hannity said that "this is one of the most frightening things we could have a national security adviser ever say" and that Brennan "should be fired for his ignorance."

Bret Baier: "The new national security strategy is OK with jihad?" On the May 27 edition of Fox News' Special Report, anchor Bret Baier asked if "the new national security strategy is OK with jihad." Reporter Mike Emanuel later introduced video of Brennan's remarksby saying "the administration is very careful with language in the strategy."

Fox Nation: "WH Adviser: Jihad Is Legit, Terrorists Victims of Economic Forces" From TheFoxNation.com, accessed May 27:

The Jawa Report: "This is Nuckin Futz, besides it will hurt the Islamic Terrorist's feelings." The conservative blog The Jawa Report asserted: "Good News!! Counterterror Adviser Defends Jihad as 'Legitimate Tenet of Islam'" and claimed that "This is Nuckin Futz, besides it will hurt the Islamic Terrorist's feelings."

Weasel Zippers: Brennan is "deranged", "sends shivers up my spine." The conservative blog Weasel Zippers linked to Brennan's comments and noted "John 'al-Quds' Brennan at it again. This is absolutely outrageous, the fact that someone this deranged, who defends jihadis as 'victims,' is defending us from al-Qaeda sends shivers up my spine..."

Official Bush administration policy: "Terrorists distort the idea of jihad into a call for violence"

Bush: "extremists distort the idea of jihad." In a November 11, 2005, speech, President Bush said that "[t]hese extremists distort the idea of jihad into a call for terrorist murder against Christians and Hindus and Jews -- and against Muslims, themselves, who do not share their radical vision." From the speech:

All these separate images of destruction and suffering that we see on the news can seem like random, isolated acts of madness -- innocent men and women and children who have died simply because they boarded the wrong train, or worked in the wrong building, or checked into the wrong hotel. Yet, while the killers choose their victims indiscriminately, their attacks serve a clear and focused ideology -- a set of beliefs and goals that are evil, but not insane.

Some call this evil Islamic radicalism; others, militant Jihadism; and still others, Islamo-fascism. Whatever it's called, this ideology is very different from the religion of Islam. This form of radicalism exploits Islam to serve a violent, political vision: the establishment, by terrorism, subversion and insurgency, of a totalitarian empire that denies all political and religious freedom. These extremists distort the idea of jihad into a call for terrorist murder against Christians and Hindus and Jews -- and against Muslims, themselves, who do not share their radical vision.

Bush: "extremists distort the idea of jihad into a call for terrorist murder against anyone who does not share their radical vision." In a October 17, 2005, speech, Bush said that "These extremists distort the idea of jihad into a call for terrorist murder against anyone who does not share their radical vision, including Muslims from other traditions, who they regard as heretics." From the speech:

As we work together to defeat the terrorists, we must be very clear about the enemies we face. The killers who take the lives of innocent men, women, and children are followers of a violent ideology very different from the religion of Islam. These extremists distort the idea of jihad into a call for terrorist murder against anyone who does not share their radical vision, including Muslims from other traditions, who they regard as heretics.

Their strategy will fail. Many Muslim scholars have already publicly condemned terrorism, often citing chapter 5, verse 32 of the Koran, which states that killing an innocent human being is like killing all of humanity, and saving the life of one person is like saving all of humanity. I appreciate those of you here who have joined these scholars in rejecting violent extremists. And I believe the time has come for all responsible Islamic leaders to denounce an ideology that exploits Islam for political ends, and defiles your noble faith.

2006 National Strategy for Combating Terrorism: "Terrorists distort the idea of jihad into a call for violence and murder against those they regard as apostates or unbelievers." The September 2006 National Strategy for Combating Terrorism -- authored by the Bush administration's National Security Council -- stated of "Today's Terrorist Enemy": "This enemy movement seeks to create and exploit a division between the Muslim and non-Muslim world and within the Muslim world itself. The terrorists distort the idea of jihad into a call for violence and murder against those they regard as apostates or unbelievers, including all those who disagree with them. Most of the terrorist attacks since September 11 have occurred in Muslim countries - and most of the victims have been Muslims."

Even conservative Allahpundit acknowledges, "These are all standard Bush-era diplo-talking points"

Allahpundit: "There's actually nothing here you haven't heard a thousand times before in other guises." On the conservative blog HotAir, "Allahpundit" wrote of Brennan's comments, "[t]here's actually nothing here you haven't heard a thousand times before in other guises. The U.S. wants to limit Al Qaeda's recruiting pool to whatever extent possible so it emphasizes a distinction between 'false Muslims' who blow things up and 'real Muslims' who don't." The blogger added that "[t]hese are all standard Bush-era diplo-talking points, and they'll remain standard talking points under President Palin or Romney or Rubio or whoever for the simple reason that the U.S. isn't about to ask a billion Muslims to renounce the Koran over the repulsive idea of holy war."

Network/Outlet
Fox News Channel, Fox Nation
Person
Sean Hannity
Show/Publication
The Jawa Report, Hannity, Weasel Zippers
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