Rich Lowry, writing in the New York Post, is happy to answer that:
The ‘nothing to do with Islam’ lunacyYeah -- why can't President Obama be more like French prime minister Manuel Valls, who became a hero to the right when he said, after the Charlie Hebdo shootings, “We are at war.... It’s a war against terrorism and radical Islamism, against everything that would break our solidarity, our liberty, our fraternity.” Not only is Valls unafraid to use the phrase "radical Islamism," he's even spoken of "Islamic fascism rising everywhere" ("un fascisme islamiste qui monte un peu partout"). He's also the French official who said, "If 100,000 Jews leave, France will no longer be France." He would never be so naive as to say that extremist groups in the West and the Middle East aren't Islamic!
It’s settled: The Paris terror attacks had almost nothing to do with Islam.
Consider that on the one hand, you have the chilling new tape of the Charlie Hebdo attackers declaring, “We have avenged the Prophet Muhammad,” and on the other, you have the tortured assurances of White House spokesman Josh Earnest. Which are you going to believe?
The Obama administration’s mind-bogglingly determined refusal to say that we are at war with “radical Islam,” together with the left’s evasions about Islamic terrorism, means that there has been a haze of euphemism around what should be a galvanizing event in the West’s fight against terror.
Oh, wait -- The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg tells us he said precisely that:
“It is very important to make clear to people that Islam has nothing to do with ISIS,” Valls told me.Oops.
Valls said this while engaging in a different semantic debate: He rejects the term "Islamophobia" precisely because he distinguishes "Islamism" from Islam. Here's that quote in context:
“It is very important to make clear to people that Islam has nothing to do with ISIS,” Valls told me. “There is a prejudice in society about this, but on the other hand, I refuse to use this term 'Islamophobia,' because those who use this word are trying to invalidate any criticism at all of Islamist ideology. The charge of 'Islamophobia' is used to silence people. ”And, in fact, even when he used the term "radical Islamism" and sent a thrill up so many American right-wingers' legs, he distinguished "radical Islamism" from Islam. Here's a fuller version of that quote (emphasis added):
“We are at war -- not a war against a religion, not a war against a civilization, but to defend our values, which are universal,” Valls said.The problem is that Valls may carefully make this distinction, but many of the people who are demanding a harder line from President Obama simply don't. Here's Franklin Graham, the preacher who was instrumental in getting Duke University to reverse its decision to permit a weekly Muslim call to prayer from its chapel tower:
“It’s a war against terrorism and radical Islamism, against everything that would break our solidarity, our liberty, our fraternity.”
“That violence is there and it's coming and it's going to come to this country. It has nothing to do with what I say. I'm just trying to warn this country about what's coming. Islam is a violent religion.”If Valls is denounced as "Islamophobic" because he has harsh words for "radical Islamism," it's because many others who denounce "radical Islam," unlike Valls, blame the religion as a whole. If Valls doesn't like being called Islamophobic, he should blame the Franklin Grahams in his own country and the rest of the world. Valls says he's not at war with a religion -- but they are.