Right-Wing Media Scandalize Obama For Distinguishing Islam From Terrorism

Right-Wing Media Scandalize Obama For Distinguishing Islam From Terrorism

››› ››› SOPHIA TESFAYE & ALEXANDREA BOGUHN

Right-wing media scandalized President Obama's assertion that the Islamic State does not represent Islam during a primetime address to the country on his plan to combat the threat of the Islamic State -- a common differentiation that former President George W. Bush made in reference to Al Qaeda.

President Obama Delivers Plan To Address Threat Of The Islamic State

President Obama: "ISIL INot Islamic." During a September 10 address to the nation, President Obama discussed his intention to "degrade and ultimately destroy" the Islamic State through a four-point plan that would increase airstrikes, provide support to forces fighting the threat, increase counter-terrorism measures, and protect civilians. Obama also differentiated between the religion of Islam and the terrorist group, the Islamic State, asserting that "ISIL is not 'Islamic'" (emphasis added):  

Still, we continue to face a terrorist threat. We can't erase every trace of evil from the world, and small groups of killers have the capacity to do great harm. That was the case before 9/11, and that remains true today. And that's why we must remain vigilant as threats emerge. At this moment, the greatest threats come from the Middle East and North Africa, where radical groups exploit grievances for their own gain. And one of those groups is ISIL -- which calls itself the "Islamic State."

Now let's make two things clear:  ISIL is not "Islamic." No religion condones the killing of innocents. And the vast majority of ISIL's victims have been Muslim. And ISIL is certainly not a state. It was formerly al Qaeda's affiliate in Iraq, and has taken advantage of sectarian strife and Syria's civil war to gain territory on both sides of the Iraq-Syrian border. It is recognized by no government, nor by the people it subjugates. ISIL is a terrorist organization, pure and simple. And it has no vision other than the slaughter of all who stand in its way. [WhiteHouse.gov, 9/10/14]

Right-Wing Media Scandalize Obama For Not Condemning Islam

ABC's Ingraham: "We Have A Commander In Chief Who Won't Call It What It Is." On the September 11 edition of her radio show, Laura Ingraham criticized President Obama's assertion that the Islamic State does not represent all of Islam, attacking Obama for refusing to "identify," and "come to terms with" what the threat "actually is." Ingraham claimed that Obama's distinction between Islam and terrorism is evidence that the president refuses to identify the threat from "Islamic radicals."  [Courtside Entertainment Group, The Laura Ingraham Show9/11/14]

Fox's Krauthammer: President Obama's Distinction Is "Both Patronizing And Ridiculous." The September 10 edition of Fox News' Special Report Live featured a panel discussion of President Obama's statement, which host Bret Baier summarized as "ISIL is not Islamic." Fox contributor Charles Krauthammer called the distinction "both patronizing and ridiculous for a Western Christian to be telling the Muslim world what exactly their religion is about." Columnist George Will added that Obama's statement was "a little bit odd," suggesting it was an attempt by the president to be "politically correct":

WILL: Well, it was a little bit odd. ISIS says its Islamic lots of people say it's Islamic. Only the president won't. This may be the president's feel obliged to be politically correct, we have Islamic people in our country in great numbers and great loyalty and great Americans. And they want to make sure that everyone feels happy. Clearly, ISIL -- the "I" stands for Islamic, that's what it is. And this may be a perversion of it but it is -- let's just say a strain of Islam that has recurred.

KRAUTHAMMER: There's also something both patronizing and ridiculous for a Western Christian to be telling the Muslim world what exactly their religion is about. Particularly a religion with a 1400 year distinguished history of theological exegesis. I didn't know Obama was an Islamic scholar but it's probably what he does when it's raining and he can't be playing golf. [Fox News, Special Report Live9/10/14]

Senator Rand Paul Defends Obama's Distinction 

Sen. Paul: The Islamic State Is Not "A Form Of True Islam." On the September 10 edition of Fox News' Hannity, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) defended the President's statement, asserting the Islamic State is not "a form of true Islam":

PAUL: Well I think there was one important point that he was making about them not being Islamic or a form of true Islam. Ultimately civilized Islam will have to step up. We need to do everything we can to do protect ourselves and I'm all in for saying we have to combat ISIS but also the ultimate war, the long war, whoever knows how long, ultimately is going to need allies from civilized Islam. So I think it is important not only for the American public, but for the world, and for the Islamic world to point out that this is not a true form of Islam. This is an abhorrent form that should not represent most of the civilized Islamic world. [Fox News, Hannity9/10/14]  

Former President Bush Repeatedly Made Clear That Terrorism Does Not Represent Entirety Of The Islamic Faith

Bush: "We Do Not Fight Islam, We Fight Against Evil." In November 2001 President Bush delivered remarks to the Warsaw Conference on Combating Terrorism during which he stated that, "The head of the 22 nation Arab League rejected the claims of the terrorist leader and said he -- Osama bin Laden -- 'doesn't speak in the name of Arabs and Muslims.'" Bush went on to declare  that "All of us here today understand this: We do not fight Islam, we fight against evil." [White House Archives, 11/6/01]

Bush: "The Face Of Terror Is Not The True Faith Of Islam." During remarks given at the Islamic Center of Washington, D.C in the days following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Bush ensured Americans that attacks committed by Al Qaeda were not representative of the Islamic faith: 

BUSH: The face of terror is not the true faith of Islam. That's not what Islam is all about. Islam is peace. These terrorists don't represent peace, they represent evil and war. [White House Archives, 9/17/01]

Bush: "The Terrorists Are Traitors To Their Own Faith, Trying, In Effect, To Hijack Islam Itself." In an address to a joint session of Congress following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Bush again made clear that the terrorists who attacked the United States "practice a fringe form of Islamic extremism that has been rejected by Muslim scholars and the vast majority of Muslim clerics -- a fringe movement that perverts the peaceful teachings of Islam." Bush spoke directly to the difference between extremist terrorists and Muslims:

BUSH: I also want to speak tonight directly to Muslims throughout the world We respect your faith. It's practiced freely by many millions of Americans, and by millions more in countries that America counts as friends. Its teachings are good and peaceful, and those who commit evil in the name of Allah blaspheme the name of Allah. (Applause.) The terrorists are traitors to their own faith, trying, in effect, to hijack Islam itself. The enemy of America is not our many Muslim friends; it is not our many Arab friends Our enemy is a radical network of terrorists, and every government that supports them. [White House Archives, 9/20/01]

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