Above and below: Men accused of being gay are thrown from the rooftops in the (Sunni) Islamic State. Homosexuals are also punished with death by the regime in the (Shia) Islamic Republic of Iran, a regime with which Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were so eager to proclaim as “moderate” and do a deal with -- a deal that did not address LGBT and women’s issues, or the regime’s Holocaust denial. -- Tom Gross
MODERN ISLAM’S JIHAD AGAINST HOMOSEXUALS
[Note by Tom Gross]
I attach six comment articles written in the wake of the Orlando shootings.
Today the Islamic world is less tolerant than any other part of the world towards gays, Jews and other minorities.
As Ayaan Hirsi Ali points out in the article below:
“No fewer than 40 out of 57 Muslim-majority countries or territories have laws that criminalize homosexuality, prescribing punishments ranging from fines and short jail sentences to whippings and more than 10 years in prison or death.”
(Tom Gross adds: The countries where homosexuality is punishable by death include Saudi Arabia and Qatar, from which Hillary Clinton accepted millions of dollars in donations on behalf of her private foundation while she served as U.S. Secretary of State in the first Obama term.)
But as Max Boot writes (in the article below) it wasn’t always this way:
“The reality of the Muslim world – composed of 1.6 billion people spread around the globe – is so varied and complex as to defy easy characterization.
“During the Middle Ages, for example, Muslim states were considerably more accepting of homosexuality than Christian ones. As the Encyclopedia of Islam and the Modern World notes:
“‘Whatever the legal strictures on sexual activity, the positive expression of male homeoerotic sentiment in literature was accepted, and assiduously cultivated, from the late eighth century until modern times. First in Arabic, but later also in Persian, Turkish and Urdu, love poetry by men about boys more than competed with that about women, it overwhelmed it. Anecdotal literature reinforces this impression of general societal acceptance of the public celebration of male-male love.’”
(Tom Gross adds: It is the West’s ally Saudi Arabia and its new “friend,” the Iranian regime, that are responsible for fomenting and carrying out much of the discrimination against, and murders of, gays in the world today.)
The pieces below are from the American media. (Most subscribers to this list live outside the U.S. so may not have seen them.)
Several focus on the repercussions of the shootings in connection with the American elections. The last two, from the Washington Post and New York Times, are scathing of Donald Trump.
(Editors on the comment pages of all the publications below -- the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, New York Times and Commentary -- all subscribe to this list. Please may I remind readers that, in general in these “Middle East dispatches,” I don’t necessarily agree with the pieces I attach.)
* Among other dispatches on Islam and homosexuality please see:
You can also find other items that are not in these dispatches if you “like” this page on Facebook www.facebook.com/TomGrossMedia
1. “Trump Plays the Radical Islam Card” (By William McGurn, Wall Street Journal, June 13, 2016)
2. “Islam’s Jihad against Homosexuals” (By Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Wall Street Journal, June 13, 2016)
3. “Islamism Is Becoming a Hard Sell” (By Max Boot, Commentary magazine, June 14, 2016)
4. “America Deserves Better: Neither Trump nor Clinton are rising to the Islamic State threat” (Wall Street Journal Editorial, June 14, 2016)
5. “Trump’s reckless, dangerous Islamophobia helps the Islamic State” (By David Ignatius, Washington Post, June 13, 2016)
6. “Mr. Obama’s Powerful Words About Terrorism” (By The Editorial Board, New York Times, June 15, 2016)
TRUMP PLAYS THE RADICAL ISLAM CARD
Trump Plays the Radical Islam Card
The GOP candidate forces Hillary Clinton to address language she has avoided.
By William McGurn
Wall Street Journal
June 13, 2016
“I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one: ‘O Lord, make my enemies ridiculous.’ And God granted it.”
The author is Voltaire but it could be Donald Trump. Because in this election year, the people who most object to Mr. Trump appear to be doing the most to boost his popularity. Their latest contribution comes as America is still reeling from the ISIS-inspired massacre at an Orlando nightclub.
On Sunday morning, the nation awoke to the news that nearly 50 innocent people had been murdered by a gunman at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando. Soon they would learn the shooter was 29-year-old Omar Mateen, born in America to parents of Afghan origin.
In other words, a heavily-armed man with Afghan parents and a Muslim name had targeted a gay nightclub for his bloody rampage. And yet as the American people watched those Sunday press conferences on their TV sets, they were treated to a parade of officials, including the obligatory imam, all reluctant to connect the killer with anything suggesting Islam.
At 1:59 p.m. it was the president’s turn.
Though he did call the slaughter at Pulse an “act of terror,” anyone relying on Barack Obama for a read of the situation would have had no idea that the killings at a Florida nightclub might have been inspired by the same ideology behind the forces still confronting American troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Now ask yourself: Does this undermine the Trump message or fuel it?
On Monday, after a security briefing, President Obama conceded the shooter was “inspired by various extremist information” online. His sole reference to what this might be was a line about the “perversions of Islam that you see generated on the internet.”
Characteristically Monday found Mr. Trump repeating his call for a temporary ban on Muslims. Let’s stipulate this call is all his critics say it is: overly broad and not well thought out, given, for example, that to defeat the Islamists making war on America we will need the full assistance both of Muslim nations and individual Muslims, not least Muslim Americans.
But Mr. Trump’s comments are not received in a vacuum. They come in the context of an Obama administration and a Hillary Clinton campaign that, 15 years after al Qaeda hijackers flew civilian airliners into buildings in New York and Washington, still have trouble acknowledging radical Islam as a motivating force.
At a Democratic presidential debate in November, Mrs. Clinton was asked whether her failure to use the phrase “radical Islam” was a sign she had a weak policy. Back then she ducked, but post-Orlando Mr. Trump has successfully forced the issue. So on Monday Mrs. Clinton answered by declaring she is “happy to say” either “radical jihadism or “radical Islamism.”
But she added an inadvertently telling point: Those pushing the language about radical Islam, she suggested, are trying to “demonize and demagogue and declare war on an entire religion.”
Mr. Trump, of course, has found himself quite frequently on the demonized end of the stick. Only a month or so ago, he was commonly likened to Hitler. So it was no surprise that on Sunday, even as the bodies of the dead in Orlando were still being removed, the New Yorker posted a David Remnick story with this headline: “Donald Trump’s Exploitation of Orlando.”
Notwithstanding Mr. Remnick’s claim that it “feels indecent on such a day to engage these comments of Trump’s at all,” the tone suggests it felt pretty good. The particular indecency in question was a Trump tweet saying the mass murder in Orlando had proven him right about the Islamist threat to Americans.
Funny how no one finds it indecent when Mr. Obama uses a shooting to justify his call for gun control. And where was Mr. Remnick when Mrs. Clinton tweeted that “ Bernie Sanders prioritized gun manufacturers’ rights over the parents of the children killed at Sandy Hook”?
Leave aside that the term “radical Islam” itself marks a distinction between violent jihadists and peaceful Muslims. The greater irony here is that Mr. Trump and Mrs. Clinton may not be as far apart as may appear on ISIS. Both emphasize an air war: While Mr. Trump says he would bomb ISIS oil fields, Mrs. Clinton embraces the Obama fiction that we can do the job with a few Special Forces and a good bombing campaign. Neither addresses the hard truth that defeating ISIS will require a much greater U.S. commitment, probably including more ground troops.
Even so, at least for now, Mr. Trump benefits. His language on Muslims and the Middle East may be crude and unnuanced. But it’s not hard to understand its popular appeal when set against a president and his secretary of state who almost always invoke Islam only when it’s time to lecture their fellow citizens about anti-Muslim bigotry.
Mr. Trump often complains about how unfairly he’s treated by his critics. If he understood what folks such as Mr. Remnick are doing for him, he’d put them on the payroll.
ISLAM’S JIHAD AGAINST HOMOSEXUALS
By Islam’s Jihad against Homosexuals
Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Wall Street Journal
June 13, 2016
The Orlando massacre is a hideous reminder to Americans that homophobia is an integral part of Islamic extremism. That isn’t to say that some people of other faiths and ideologies aren’t hostile to members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, or LGBT, community. Nor is to say that Islamic extremists don’t target other minorities, in addition to engaging in wholly indiscriminate violence. But it is important to establish why a man like Omar Mateen could be motivated to murder 49 people in a gay nightclub, interrupting the slaughter, as law-enforcement officials reported, to dial 911, proclaim his support for Islamic State and then pray to Allah.
I offer an explanation in the form of four propositions.
1. Muslim homophobia is institutionalized. Islamic law as derived from scripture, and as evolved over several centuries, not only condemns but prescribes cruel and unusual punishments for homosexuality.
2. Many Muslim-majority countries have laws that criminalize and punish homosexuals in line with Islamic law.
3. It is thus not surprising that the attitudes of Muslims in Muslim-majority countries are homophobic and that many people from those countries take those attitudes with them when they migrate to the West.
4. The rise of modern Islamic extremism has worsened the intolerance toward homosexuality. Extremists don’t just commit violence against LGBT people. They also spread the prejudice globally by preaching that homosexuality is a disease and a crime.
Not all Muslims are homophobic. Many are gay or lesbian themselves. Some even have the courage to venture into the gender fluidity that the 21st century West has come to recognize. But these LGBT Muslims are running directly counter to their religion.
In his 2006 book “Crime and Punishment in Islamic Law,” the Dutch scholar Rudolph Peters notes that most schools of Islamic law proscribe homosexuality. They differ only on the mode of punishment. “The Malikites, the Shiites and some Shafi’ites and Hanbalites are of the opinion that the penalty is death, either by stoning (Malikites), the sword (some Shafi’ites and Hanbalites) or, at the discretion of the court, by killing the culprit in the usual manner with a sword, stoning him, throwing him from a (high) wall or burning him (Shiites).”
Under Shariah – Islamic law – those engaging in same-sex sexual acts can be sentenced to death in nearly a dozen countries or in large areas of them: Iran, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Sudan, the northern states of Nigeria, southern parts of Somalia, two provinces in Indonesia, Mauritania, Afghanistan, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates. Death is also the penalty in the territories in northern Iraq and Syria controlled by ISIS.
Iran is notorious for hanging men accused of homosexual behavior. The Associated Press reports that since 2014 ISIS has executed at least 30 people in Syria and Iraq for being homosexual, including three men who were dropped from the top of a 100-foot building in Mosul in June 2015.
No fewer than 40 out of 57 Muslim-majority countries or territories have laws that criminalize homosexuality, prescribing punishments ranging from fines and short jail sentences to whippings and more than 10 years in prison or death.
These countries’ laws against homosexuality align with the attitudes of the overwhelming majority of their populations. In 2013 the Pew Research Center surveyed the beliefs of Muslims in 36 countries with a significant Muslim population or majority, including asking about their views of homosexuality. In 33 out of the 36 countries, more than 75% of those surveyed answered that homosexuality was “morally wrong,” and in only three did more than 10% of those surveyed believe that homosexuality was “morally acceptable.”
In many Muslim-majority countries – including Afghanistan, where Omar Mateen’s parents came from – LGBT people face as much danger from their families or vigilantes as they do from the authorities.
Perhaps not surprisingly, Islamic extremists condemn homosexuality in the strongest possible terms. The Middle East Media Research Institute reported in 2006 that when Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, one of the world’s leading Sunni clerics and chairman of the European Council for Fatwa and Research, was asked how gay people should be punished, he replied: “Some say we should throw them from a high place, like God did with the people of Sodom. Some say we should burn them, and so on. There is disagreement. . . . The important thing is to treat this act as a crime.”
Such ideas travel. In 2009 Anjem Choudary, an infamous London imam and self-proclaimed “judge of the Shariah Court of the U.K.,” stated in a press conference that all homosexuals should be stoned to death. Here in the U.S., Muzammil Siddiqi, former president of the Islamic Society of North America, has written: “Homosexuality is a moral disorder. It is a moral disease, a sin and corruption . . . No person is born homosexual, just like no one is born a thief, a liar or murderer. People acquire these evil habits due to a lack of proper guidance and education.”
Farrokh Sekaleshfar, a Shiite cleric educated in London, declared of homosexuality in 2013: “Death is the sentence. We know there’s nothing to be embarrassed about this. Death is the sentence.” He was speaking at the Husseini Islamic Center outside Orlando. Yes, Orlando. He spoke there again in April.
These men express their hostility toward the LGBT community only verbally, but the Orlando attack was hardly the first manifestation in the U.S. of Islamist antigay violence. During a New Year’s Eve celebration in the first hours of 2014, Musab Masmari tried to set fire to a gay nightclub in Seattle; he is serving 10 years in prison on federal arson charges. Law-enforcement officials say that Ali Muhammad Brown, an ISIS supporter who is now in prison for armed robbery, also faces charges for terrorism and four murders, including the 2014 execution of two men in Seattle outside of a gay nightclub.
Following the horrific attack in Orlando, people as usual have been rushing to judgment. President Obama blames lax gun laws. Donald Trump blames immigration. Neither is right. There has been comparable carnage in countries with strict gun laws. The perpetrator in this case was born in the United States. This is not primarily about guns or immigration. It is about a deeply dangerous ideology that is infiltrating American society in the guise of religion. Homophobia comes in many forms. But none is more dangerous in our time than the Islamic version.
ISLAMISM IS BECOMING A HARD SELL
Islamism Is Becoming a Hard Sell
By Max Boot
June 14, 2016
It is easy to despair over the state of Islam after a horrible terrorist attack such as the one in Orlando. Omar Mateen appears to have been a lunatic whose mind was deformed by all sorts of pathologies, including self-hatred, since we now have evidence he was a closeted gay man who chose to attack a nightclub full of gay people. But there is no disputing the fact that he was inspired to act in no small part by Islamist propaganda, as seen from the fact that he pledged bayat(allegiance) to ISIS before carrying out his mass murder.
And there is no disputing, too, the intolerance toward homosexuals in many Muslim countries, which has not infrequently morphed into violent persecution. The Islamic State has carried this evil to its highest degree by tossing gays off buildings and otherwise murdering them.
But just as it’s wrong to deny that groups such as ISIS and al-Qaeda are Islamic in their orientation, so, too, is it wrong to claim that they are the sole valid representatives of Islam. This is a fiction that both Islamists and Islamaphobes embrace for reasons of convenience. The reality of the Muslim world – composed of 1.6 billion people spread around the globe – is so varied and complex as to defy easy characterization.
During the Middle Ages, for example, Muslim states were considerably more accepting of homosexuality than Christian ones. As the Encyclopedia of Islam and the Modern World notes:
Whatever the legal strictures on sexual activity, the positive expression of male homeoerotic sentiment in literature was accepted, and assiduously cultivated, from the late eighth century until modern times. First in Arabic, but later also in Persian, Turkish and Urdu, love poetry by men about boys more than competed with that about women, it overwhelmed it. Anecdotal literature reinforces this impression of general societal acceptance of the public celebration of male-male love.
The Muslim world has become considerably more fundamentalist in recent decades, but even this trend is hardly universal. Consider Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim nation. The BBC reported: “Homosexuality and gay sex are not illegal in Indonesia, and the world’s largest Muslim country has a vibrant transgender culture and tradition, which broadly meets with tolerance from the Indonesian public.”
But, the BBC reported, “On the main street of Indonesian university town Yogyakarta last week, 100 men could be found standing carrying signs that read ‘LGBT is a disease.’ Just a few hundred meters away, a group of rights activists battled it out with the police: ‘Stop attacks on democracy and threats against minorities!'“
The battle between tolerance and intolerance – liberalism and totalitarianism – then is not simply a battle waged between the West and Islam; it is a battle being waged within Islam, just as in centuries past it was waged within Christendom and still is to some extent.
The West’s ultimate hope must be that Muslim states become more liberal and more secular as their Western counterparts have over the past several centuries. This is a trend that the U.S. and its allies should encourage by supporting liberals in the Muslim world – and, yes, they do exist.
That this is not a vain hope is evident from the example of Tunisia, which has emerged from the Arab Spring as the only true Arab democracy. (Lebanon is also a democracy of sorts, but its polity is effectively dominated by the armed might of Hezbollah.) Recently, Ennahda, Tunisia’s largest Islamist party, has disavowed Islamism – the political doctrine which originated with the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and which calls for religious rule.
The party has adopted measures that end its “commitment to ‘dawa,’ proselytizing Islamic values. This makes the party a purely political organization, with no overt religious mission – a radical break from the Muslim Brotherhood tradition from which the Ennahda movement sprang.” Instead, Ennahda is embracing the label of “Muslim Democrats,” similar to the Christian Democrats of Europe.
Many of Ennahda’s critics remain suspicious of its sincerity but, whatever the case, it is significant that Ennahda felt compelled to transform itself in order to compete for votes. It no longer feels that Islamism is a winning formula.
Amid the daily headlines of violence carried out by terrorists in the name of Islam, it is encouraging to see a countervailing trend play out even in a country as small as Tunisia. It suggests we should not despair of Islam’s future or write off all Muslims as enemies–an overgeneralization that is as wrong as it is dangerous.
AMERICA DESERVES BETTER
America Deserves Better
Neither Trump nor Clinton are rising to the Islamic State threat.
Wall Street Journal Editorial
June 14, 2016
Even amid a terrorist massacre on the scale of Orlando, the American people are getting more reasons to justify their unhappiness with the political class. By which we mean the day-after responses of President Obama and the two presumptive nominees, Donald Trumpand Hillary Clinton. The American people deserve a better strategy to defeat terrorism than they are getting.
Mr. Obama appears to be doubling down on the evasions of the last eight years, as he tries to prove to the last day that he isn’t George W. Bush. The killer of 49 people, Mr. Obama said Monday, “appears” to have declared his loyalty to Islamic State “at the last minute.” Meaning exactly what? Presumably on the Obama anti-terrorism scale of 1 to 10, we’re still not at 10 on his watch because the terrorist slaughters in Orlando and San Bernardino were “homegrown.”
Mr. Trump’s remarks, on various TV shows and in a speech in New Hampshire Monday, gave little evidence he has talked to anyone in the intelligence or foreign-policy communities about the substantive details of addressing the threat. He suggested on TV that some of the Orlando club-goers should have had guns “strapped to their ankles.” Mr. Trump devoted about 80% of his New Hampshire speech to restating and defending his proposed ban on Muslim immigration, with the proviso that it would be “temporary,” once we can “perfectly screen these people.”
But Mr. Trump’s thoughts on what exactly he would do to stop Islamic terrorism at its source in the Middle East weren’t much more than a footnote. On the one hand, he rightly said the goal must be to defeat Islamic terrorism by uniting the civilized world in the fight. But doing what?
His sustained assault on U.S. involvement in overthrowing Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi and the “total disaster” of “nation-building” suggests Mr. Trump is more inclined to play to isolationist sentiments in the U.S. than discuss military options for what even he calls the need to “defeat Islamic terrorism.” An immigration policy by itself cannot end that threat.
Mr. Trump also made a great show Monday of calling out Mrs. Clinton and President Obama for not saying the words “radical Islamic terrorism.” Words matter but battle plans matter more against a terrorist enemy whose violence is nurtured in havens across the Middle East.
Mrs. Clinton’s response – in TV appearances and then in a prepared speech in Cleveland – was mostly a stage-managed walk through the aftermath of the Orlando massacre. More than anything, she used the occasion as a political opportunity to define her opponent as a divider and herself as a bipartisan unifier against “all those who hate.” She mentioned as always that she has a “plan” to fight Islamic State.
Earlier in the day, however, Mrs. Clinton did say one good thing about defending the U.S. from terrorist attack: “We have the resources, relationships and experience to get it done.” That is true, and that is the heart of the issue.
After Orlando, San Bernardino, Fort Hood, Paris and Brussels, the one question American voters need answered is which of these two candidates will deploy the enormous intelligence and military resources of the U.S., enlist its allied relationships world-wide and use what it already knows about terrorism to deter future atrocities on American soil. As of today, there is little reason to think either candidate would deploy this existing U.S. strength.
Most striking about the post-Orlando responses of the two presumptive presidential candidates is how carefully political they were. With 49 Americans dead at a terrorist’s hand, the moment calls for some sense of the candidates’ counter-strategies. But neither candidate appears willing to step outside his or her political comfort zones.
Mr. Trump, by his own admission Monday, has been promoting a Muslim immigration ban for months. But beyond that, where is he going? Mrs. Clinton’s supporters keep whispering she’s a closet hawk, willing to do more than Mr. Obama has to end Islamic State’s destabilization of the Middle East and Europe. So far, she’s left the impression that her policy would be Obama 2.0 – more bombing, perhaps, but no real strategy to destroy ISIS.
The two presidential candidates sound like opponents in a college debate trying to score rhetorical points. Mr. Trump keeps saying, “We must find out what is going on.” We know what’s going on. We’ve known it since Islamic State rose to power during the Obama Presidency. The American people have about five months to be given a better idea than they have now of what Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton will do about it.
TRUMP’S RECKLESS, DANGEROUS ISLAMOPHOBIA HELPS THE ISLAMIC STATE
Trump’s reckless, dangerous Islamophobia helps the Islamic State
By David Ignatius
June 13, 2016
Even by Donald Trump’s standards, his comments about the Orlando shooting have been reckless and self-serving. They are also dangerous for the country.
Trump’s response to Sunday’s morning’s terrorist attack by Omar Mateen was initially an opportunistic tweet; then a boasting statement on his website, “I said this was going to happen”; followed by a renewed call to temporarily ban Muslim immigration, capped by a sinister insinuation Monday morning that President Obama should resign after the shooting because “there’s something going on.”
The presumptive Republican nominee tried to recover from these wild, off-the-cuff comments with ascripted speech Monday afternoon warning, without evidence, that his presumptive Democratic rival Hillary Clinton “wants radical Islamic terrorists to pour into our country.” Trump professed support for law-abiding Muslim Americans but said that if they didn’t report on “bad” people within their midst, “these people have to have consequences, big consequences.”
Trump’s polarizing rhetoric on this issue may be the best thing the Islamic State has going for it, according to some leading U.S. and foreign counter-terrorism experts. The group’s self-declared caliphate in Syria and Iraq is imploding. Its Syrian capital of Raqqah is surrounded and besieged; the gap in the Turkish-Syrian border that allowed free flow of foreign fighters is finally being closed; Sunni tribal sheiks who until recently had cooperated with the Islamic State are switching sides. The group’s narrative is collapsing – with one exception.
The strongest remaining force that propels the Islamic State is the Islamophobia of Trump and his European counterparts, argue senior intelligence strategists for the U.S.-led coalition. Inflammatory, xenophobic statements about Muslims reinforce the jihadists’ claims that they are Muslim knights fighting against an intolerant West. Trump unwittingly gives them precisely the role they dream about.
Trump doesn’t seem to understand that the real danger for the West is not the isolated acts of terror by disaffected youths, such as Mateen’s massacre in Orlando. That’s a threat to Americans, but one that can at least be mitigated some with better security and intelligence. The bigger nightmare happens if Muslims, as a whole, conclude that their community is under threat and respond as a group.
Trump seems to think that we’ve already reached that tipping point – that the Muslim community has mobilized against the United States. He rightly said Monday that Muslims need to work with law enforcement to report dangerous people. But he doesn’t seem to understand that his many months of Muslim-bashing comments have made that cooperation harder. He has been tossing matches into a pool of gasoline. Good law enforcement and, yes, cooperation from Muslims have helped prevent more attacks like those in San Bernardino, Calif., and Orlando.
It’s breathtaking that a serious presidential candidate would call on a sitting president to resign following a terrorist attack, because “he doesn’t get it or he gets it better than anybody understands.” What’s that supposed to mean, if not a slur against Obama’s loyalty?
Trump displays a level of irresponsibility that should worry Americans, not just because his statements are immoral and unconstitutional, but because they put the country at greater risk.
MR. OBAMA’S POWERFUL WORDS ABOUT TERRORISM
Mr. Obama’s Powerful Words About Terrorism
By The Editorial Board
New York Times
June 15, 2016
In a speech on Tuesday to update the nation on the battle against the Islamic State, given against the backdrop of the Orlando, Fla., massacre, President Obama gave the most powerful rebuke yet to the increasingly unreasonable and dangerous ravings of the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump.
Mr. Obama started by listing the ways in which his administration has worked to subdue the threat of terrorism abroad and at home. And because of the use of American and allied force, the Islamic State is losing ground in Syria, Iraq and Libya, he said.
Then he addressed the accusation – a fetishized Republican talking point, repeated by Mr. Trump after Orlando – that Mr. Obama is surrendering to the enemy by avoiding the label “radical Islam.” The idea that reciting those words would help magically defeat the terrorists is absurd, and worse. It plays into the desire of groups like ISIS and Al Qaeda to make the war, as Mr. Obama said, “a war between Islam and America, or between Islam and the West. They want to claim that they are the true leaders of over a billion Muslims around the world who reject their crazy notions.”
Implying that these terrorists speak for Islam aids their propaganda, Mr. Obama said. “That’s how they recruit. And if we fall into the trap of painting all Muslims with a broad brush, and imply that we are at war with an entire religion, then we are doing the terrorists’ work for them.”
The president went on to condemn Mr. Trump and his defenders and enablers for “language that singles out immigrants and suggests entire religious communities are complicit in violence.” He warned against abandoning “the pluralism and the openness, our rule of law, our civil liberties, the very things that make this country great. The very things that make us exceptional.”
“Where does this stop?” Mr. Obama asked. “The Orlando killer, one of the San Bernardino killers, the Fort Hood killer, they were all U.S. citizens. Are we going to start treating all Muslim-Americans differently? Are we going to start subjecting them to special surveillance? Are we going to start discriminating against them, because of their faith?”
Of these ideas, front and center in the Trump campaign, Mr. Obama pointedly asked, “Do Republican officials actually agree with this?” The silence from those leaders speaks volumes.
On Monday, Mr. Trump seized the Orlando horror to summon Americans to panic, repeating his call to seal the borders to Muslims and refugees, to expand the surveillance-and-security state, to keep the nation awash in guns, to treat all Muslims as terrorists or potential terrorists or the complicit enablers of terrorism.
On Tuesday, Mr. Obama in response gave voice to what Americans of good will understand: “We’ve gone through moments in our history before when we acted out of fear, and we came to regret it. We have seen our government mistreat our fellow citizens, and it has been a shameful part of our history.”
On Thursday, the president plans to travel to Orlando to bring solace to grieving families and a stricken city. It is all but impossible to imagine the Republicans’ leading presidential contender offering similar leadership, or having the ability to bring unity from tragedy. Which is a sign of how far the party has fallen, behind the banner of Donald Trump.