Friday, July 15, 2016


I'm sure I don't need to tell you the awful news:
A truck plowed into pedestrians during Bastille Day celebrations in the popular French seaside city of Nice Thursday, leaving at least 80 people dead in what the nation's president called "obviously a terrorist attack."
Donald Trump politicized the attack almost immediately:

"When will we learn" what? That terrorism exists?

Oh, I think I know what he means: We're supposed to learn that we can't successfully fight terrorism by being "politically correct." We need to say the right words.

Retired general Mike Flynn, who was on Trump's running-mate short list (and who, for all we know, might be on the list again), published an op-ed in the New York Post last week titled "The Military Fired Me for Calling Our Enemies Radical Jihadis." In it, he wrote:
It infuriates me when our president bans criticism of our enemies, and I am certain that we cannot win this war unless we are free to call our enemies by their proper names: radical jihadis, failed tyrants, and so forth.
Rudy Giuliani, a frequent Trump defender, regularly makes the same point. Here he was last month:
"I am very disturbed by the president's failure to use the word Islamic terrorism. I've been disturbed about it for years," Giuliani told CNN's Chris Cuomo....

The 2008 presidential candidate argued that Obama "is creating a feeling, particularly among more liberal members of society, that you can't say 'Islamic terrorism.'"
But do you know who does use phrases like this? The French government. And it doesn't seem to be preventing terrorist attacks.

In January 2015, in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attack, French prime minister Manuel Valls used the magic words:
Prime Minister Manuel Valls declared Saturday that France was at war with radical Islam....

“It is a war against terrorism, against jihadism, against radical Islam, against everything that is aimed at breaking fraternity, freedom, solidarity,” Mr. Valls said during a speech in √Čvry, south of Paris.
Right-wingers cheered. At FrontPage Mag, Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch wrote this:
It was an extraordinary breaking of ranks. For years now, since 9/11 and before, Western leaders from all points of the political spectrum have unanimously maintained that Islam was a Religion of Peace and that Islamic jihad terrorists were a tiny minority of extremists who were twisting and hijacking the peaceful teachings of their religion. French Prime Minister Manuel Valls ... has come closer than any other Western leader to telling the truth about the threat....
Spencer pointedly noted that then-attorney general Eric Holder refused to use the magic words in a subsequent appearance on ABC's This Week.

Despite Valls's use of an all-powerful phrase, Paris suffered another major terrorist attack in November 2015, which killed 130 people. A few months later, in March, French president Francois Hollande came to the White House and said, among other things, that "the roots of terrorism, Islamist terrorism, is in Syria and in Iraq." The phrase couldn't be heard in an early audio post on the White House website, an omission that led to howls of "censorship" from the right, even though the omission was quickly rectified. (The White House said there'd been a technical error.)

But Hollande's use of the phrase "Islamist terrorism" didn't prevent the Nice attacks, any more than Valls's use of the phrase "radical Islam" prevented the Paris attacks in November. Gosh, maybe these aren't magic words after all.


Unknown said...

Trump "How dare they? "I called them "Radical Jihadists" and they still pulled that shit on folks? Why dont they listen? Ok Time to get heavy with the "language thing. This should get them...."Die Gay LBGTQ Jihadist Libruls". Lets see you guys do some crazy shit now?"

Victor said...

Newt wants to do some form of background-check/loyalty-test for all Muslims in the US.

Yeah, THAT'LL help!
It'll help make the situation worse.

Which is usually the conservative approach to any and every situation!

Ten Bears said...

Radical Islam is as easy to say as Radical Christian, and Radical Jew.

They all bow down to the same dog.

Feud Turgidson said...

At of this moment 84 dead, 50 hovering, and the GOP response is, Chicken Little Hands Trump delays announcing Governor Cement Head as his veep choice lest the momentous thing risk being missed in all The Sky Is Falling The Sky IS Falling madness or, worse still, lest the Awe of the former dilute the Awesome of their stupid reaction, AND sure, you say the French issued the magic wods, but they're FRENCH FCOL - no one listens to the French, and WTF even understnds, they're speaking French all the time.

The magic words can only be extricated from the seized-up tightly-puckered colon of the rooster crowing on top of the chicken run: an American Republican candidate for preznit.

Philo Vaihinger said...

Perhaps not a Jihader but only an isolated and profoundly alienated man who hated the French among whom he lived.

There is nothing to say he had the least interest in Islamic radicalism or Jihad, so far, at all.

Nobody has claimed responsibility, he left behind nothing to indicate this was for ISIS or Islam.

There are questionable reports some witnesses say the fellow shouted "Allahu Akbar" out a window before firing his pistol, but even if true that only establishes he was, as we knew anyway, a Muslim.

Mass murder is not terrorism.

But from the first second the pro-Trump right wing noise machine has been screaming like it's 9/11 all over again.

Take a look at Breitbart, for example.

The idiot public, after all, proving once again that mass democracy is an insult to the intelligence of the human race, trusts the strutting, blowhard thug, Il Duce, to handle foreign affairs and national security much more than it trusts Hillary.

And the Trumpistas are really going to town with it.

I repeat.

From the first moment, everyone has merely assumed this was Jihader terrorism, probably ISIS, because the perp was a Muslim.

That includes fans of Jihad who apparently were just thrilled to hear of this event.

Talk about profiling.

swkellogg said...

I believe the obsession rest in the fact that the neocrusaders want to normalize the term "radical islam" as a segue to dispensing with the "radical" part (or at least conflating the two terms) and thus vilifying all of islam.

These people are spoiling for the ultimate cultural showdown in a manner consistent with their millenialist/end times/ culturally imperialistic beliefs.

Yastreblyansky said...

@swkellogg, that's just right. Gingrich said we need to "be fairly relentless about defining who our enemies are". He doesn't want to defeat the enemies as much as define them in such a way that the war will never end except with the world.

KenRight said...

Doesn't much matter. As long as your Democrat Party is also giving Israel most if not all of what it wants, and under the hypocritical mask of oh, so much more "progressive idealistic" motives, the Muslim world writ large will have more than enough jihadis to conduct long term war against Amerisraeli imperialism there and here.

Ken_L said...

What Philo Vaihinger said. Much of the world has come to accept the Pamela Geller formula that criminal act + Muslim = radical Islamic terrorism.

Philo Vaihinger said...

ISIS has claimed he was their guy and this was an act of Jihader terrorism.

I think they are lying, and The Guardian is skeptical.

People who knew him say he had no particular interest in religion, at all, and nothing in his life shows the least sign even of curiosity about, let alone commitment to, Islamism or Jihad.

ISIS, the Trumpistas, and the GOP all have every reason to lie.

Sure enough, we all know the world is crawling with Jihaders and Muslim terrorists.

But this guy does NOT seem to have been one of them.

Procopius said...

After reading the first few paragraphs of Gen (retired) Flynn's rant, I came to the sentence, "I knew then it had more to do with the stand I took on radical Islamism and the expansion of al Qaeda and its associated movements." OK, this is what's technically known as paranoia. From his words, it seems pretty clear to me that they fired him because he was getting too out of touch with reality and was being too visible about it. I recall reading in novels about English seventeenth century ship's captains who were selected despite the fact that they were so senile they barely knew where they were. Flynn is still very eloquent, but seems to be obsessed. After he writes, "We’re in a global war, facing an enemy alliance that runs from Pyongyang, North Korea, to Havana, Cuba, and Caracas, Venezuela." I have to conclude that he's bonkers, or else the evidence he has seen is so classified that it might as well not exist.