The United States of America is fighting a war against terrorists of global reach. The enemy is not a single political regime or person or religion or ideology. The enemy is terrorism -- premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against innocents.(Emphasis added.)
In many regions, legitimate grievances prevent the emergence of a lasting peace. Such grievances deserve to be, and must be, addressed within a political process. But no cause justifies terror.
Why, it's perfectly understandable that a headline at Right Wing News reads, "Obama Outrageously Claims ISIS Terrorists Have ‘Legitimate Grievances’"! Or that a mocking headline at PJ Media reads, "Nuance! Obama: Terrorists Have ‘Legitimate Grievances.’" Or that a headline at Twitchy reads, "How Off His Rocker Is Obama? This Brutal ‘Legitimate Grievances’ Perspective Reveals Answer."
Whoops! I'm sorry. President Obama didn't write what I quoted above. That came from Part III of the National Security Strategy published by the George W. Bush White House one year after the 9/11 attacks.
Here's what President Obama wrote:
We know from experience that the best way to protect people, especially young people, from falling into the grip of violent extremists is the support of their family, friends, teachers and faith leaders. At this week's summit, community leaders from Los Angeles, Minneapolis and Boston will highlight innovative partnerships in their cities that are helping empower communities to protect their loved ones from extremist ideologies.Obviously, the president is referring to the legitimate grievances of citizens in many countries who are not members of ISIS or other terrorist groups. Some of them, he believes, might turn to extremist organizations out of anger at the state of their own countries.
More broadly, groups like al Qaeda and ISIL exploit the anger that festers when people feel that injustice and corruption leave them with no chance of improving their lives. The world has to offer today's youth something better.
Governments that deny human rights play into the hands of extremists who claim that violence is the only way to achieve change. Efforts to counter violent extremism will only succeed if citizens can address legitimate grievances through the democratic process and express themselves through strong civil societies. Those efforts must be matched by economic, educational and entrepreneurial development so people have hope for a life of dignity.
Right-wingers know that, of course. They know the president is not legitimizing terrorist organizations. They're just exploiting the ignorance of their target audience, because fostering hatred for their political enemies is -- now and always -- their #1 priority. They care about that far more than they do about fighting terrorism or keeping America safe.