Obama’s Two Faces of Islam
By Bill Siegel
In the midst of recent horrific acts of terror, from burning the Jordanian pilot to storming the offices of Charlie Hebdo, a Danish café holding a free speech conference and the Great Synagogue of Copenhagen, many opinion leaders scratch their heads over President Obama and his administration’s refusal to couple the words “Islam” with “terrorism.” The result is the label “violent extremism,” awkwardly redundant in large part because what makes its referents “extreme” is precisely their use of violence. Many exasperatingly surmise the administration must be naïve, even delusional, and fails to understand the threat we face. Most then correctly warn that if we cannot accurately name the threat, we stand little chance of effectively dealing with it.
This is not, however, a failure to understand the nature of Islam and its connection with modern day terror at all. Rather, it is the result of perhaps the most defining characteristic of Obama’s presidency: savvy rhetoric that, quite deliberately, disguises his actions and policies. From “you can keep your doctor” to “this will be the most transparent administration in history,” the President is facile juggling two vastly different narratives; one to trap and control public attention while the other grounds his policies. And as with the IRS targeting of conservatives, the Benghazi assassinations, Obamacare and so on, when the actions invariably so conflict with the rhetoric, we struggle to explain the dissonance in ways we can most accept. In the case of Obama’s dealings with Islam and, in particular our Islamic enemies, however, finding an acceptable explanation is exceptionally frustrating because we are generally unfamiliar with Islam. Consequently, we indulge in (and a compliant media even clings to) explanations that Obama is naïve, incompetent, or psychologically stressed because they are more comforting than recognizing the alternative.
In the case of Obama’s refusal to couple “Islam” with “terror,” his rhetorical narrative of Islam is waning in its ability to disguise his policy narrative- paying homage to Sharia (“Islamic Law”). Obama’s public pose is as an authority on the issues he engages. Indeed, bold statements such as “Islam is a great religion of peace” or “this has nothing to do with Islam” presume substantial knowledge of Islam. In fact, Obama knows exactly what he is doing and his administration understands quite a bit about Islam. It has advisors and employees well familiar with Sharia and it openly entertains advice from Muslim Brotherhood-friendly groups and others. Yet the Islam Obama pays respect to is vastly different from the Islam he presents to the public; he simply tells one tale about Islam while operating out of another.
The Rhetorical Narrative
It is helpful to examine these two faces of Islam separately. The construct the administration (and its predecessor for different reasons) professes to know and publicly promotes is that Islam is a religion much like we would like it to be; one that tolerates all people as equals and seeks to make the world a better place for all. Obama recently stated “99.9% of Muslims” are “looking for the same thing we’re looking for: order, peace, and prosperity.” This view declares that just as the KKK applies a small, deviant, nihilistic, and violent interpretation of Christianity, there are a few extreme Muslims who have sought to take advantage of Western ignorance of Islam by claiming to act in its name when performing universally abhorrent acts; but that is not “true Islam.”
And in his recent National Prayer Breakfast speech, Obama reasserted this unseemly and historically disingenuous equivalence: “And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ. In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ.”
The administration takes advantage of this construct in a variety of ways. One notion that flows from it is that it is the West’s responsibility to rise from its ignorance and make sure that Islam is given its proper and deserved respect. Putting the absurdity of the references to the Crusades and Jim Crow aside, Obama, perhaps the most arrogant and condescending president in US history, proceeds to request humility in our dealings with Islam. Permanently perched upon his own high horse, Obama is able to assume the mantle of “justice” and pronounce universal fairness as his guiding principle.
This rhetorical narrative presses further. Since we are all the same, the only reason that some act as our enemy under the banner of Islam is that we must be doing something wrong. After all, we would not so behave unless it was in response to unacceptable provocations. Attributing the cause of Islamic terror in one way or another to us (occupation of Islamic or formerly Islamic territories, supporting secular tyrannical rulers, years of colonialism, supporting Israel, building settlements, etc.) calms the fears of many by creating the impression that if we only change our behavior the enemy will cease its behavior. This transfer of responsibility for the behavior of terrorists then becomes the basis for orienting Obama’s actions in dealing with our Islamic enemy. He is simply correcting our past ways.
Another twist is what President Obama’s most trusted consigliore, Valerie Jarrett, paradoxically asserted when she claimed that combining “Islam” and “terror” will result in greater terror recruitment. The presupposition is that if we, the West, are so insulting of this great religion we will drive ordinary reasonable Muslims over the edge to seek a life of head cutting. (Paradoxical because it is Islam that captivates, binds and ultimately recruits the terrorists we face and central to their motivation is pride in being followers of Mohammad and Allah. If anything would incite rage in these committed devotees, it would be the refusal give them credit for being true and “good” Muslims in faithfully carrying out the commands of Sharia). Once again, it becomes our responsibility to make sure this does not occur.
Perhaps the most significant notion that flows from this narrative is that Muslims are an especially sensitive people; a sensitivity that bears witness to how tolerant and empathetic they truly are, if only the rest of us were compassionate enough to understand. As with the presumed virtue of third world populations taught for decades in Western universities, not only do we need to recognize that special Muslim sensitivity, we will ultimately need to shift our behavior to protect it. Hence, any insult to Islam or a Muslim is an assault to that frailty. This “fragile Muslim” trope turns the public’s eyes away from Muslims who are actively seeking to destroy Western civilization and positions Muslims as pure victims of Western hatred. Much like swatting the bee hive, rage should be expected from any criticism of Islam. Again, it is the West’s responsibility to insure that no such insult is made.
This is precisely the narrative that Hillary Clinton rode when co-sponsoring her push for global prohibitions on speech critical of Islam. The endgame there is for it to be so well established that rage is the expected Muslim response to casting Islam in a bad light that First Amendment case law will eventually “progress” to redefine “imminent harm” and “incitement” to fully curtail such speech.
Obama also tipped his hat and hand to this goal in his National Prayer Breakfast speech, “… if, in fact, we defend the legal right of a person to insult another’s religion, we’re equally obligated to use our free speech to condemn such insults and stand shoulder to shoulder with religious communities, particularly religious minorities who are targets of such attacks.” Rhetorically, this is a pleasant call to treat others decently. Politically, he is further preparing the path toward his ultimate goal of criminalizing speech critical of Islam. More so, we have no “obligation” whatsoever to respond to such speech. Obama himself is the poster child for mass failure to respond. One might expect that Obama, who calls himself a Christian, would be outspoken about the global genocide of Christians currently taking place at the hands of Muslims. Yet again, his silence is out of sync with his rhetoric.
It is this narrative that also pressures the West to prove to the Muslim world that we will do all we can to live up to these presumed common and universal values. Since we are all alike, there is no war, clash of civilizations or even conflict to speak of. Because there are just a few who disgrace this religion of peace and act against our interests, the administration has tailored its description of our enemy to al-Qaeda (even “core al-Qaeda”) and ISIS/ISIL to limit any response and targeting to these pockets of violent Islamic terrorists. This justifies limited action against Muslims as well as our eventual withdrawal from the Middle East, one of Obama’s primary objectives.
Again, this is the rhetorical narrative the administration sells to the public and which hijacks and shapes much of the media conversation about the war the West faces with its Islamic enemies. All of what flows from it focuses attention on our behavior and what we must do to better accommodate Islam as it negotiates its way with the modern world.
The Policy Narrative
Meanwhile, the administration has a much more thorough comprehension of Islam than its critics detect and which truly underlies its otherwise puzzling refusal to utilize “Islamic terror.” This other construct, the true policy narrative, recognizes that Islam has little in common with what we supposedly all want. It is a totalitarian political system that seeks to impose an Islamic state or Caliphate upon Islamic lands and ultimately spread Islam’s domination across the world.
This understanding devolves from the true war in which we are engaged- the US Constitution vs the Quran- two irreconcilable belief systems. Under the former, God gave man inalienable rights and the Constitution bestows upon man a system in which to legislate, protect and cultivate those “human” rights. By extension, the US helped promote the United Nations’ attempt to globalize this spirit through the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The Quran positions man differently. Allah set forth his laws and they are immutable. Only Allah has rights and man is forbidden from creating or obeying any laws other than Allah’s. Consequently, what is now the fifty-seven Member Organization of Islamic Cooperation promulgated the 1991 Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam which essentially restricts and conforms the Universal Declaration to the dictates of Sharia. While many of the same words are utilized to reference “human rights,” “terror,” “freedom,” and so forth, the meanings ultimately differ, reflecting the irreconcilability of Sharia with Western notions. And this is largely what gives rise to Obama’s refusal to couple “Islam” and “terror.”
Former Pentagon intelligence analyst Stephen Coughlin brilliantly details these concepts and consequences in his upcoming must read treatise, Catastrophic Failure: Blindfolding America in the Face of Jihad. Coughlin, who with his invaluable presentations on Sharia and our enemy’s strategic methods, ideology, and goals was relieved of duty allegedly on the recommendation of Muslim Brotherhood friendly advisors, spells out in easily digestible form exactly how our leaders have failed to understand our enemy and the threat we face.
While both sides of this war restrict certain killings, the US Constitution presumes to treat all men similarly. Terrorism is an act that does not discriminate based upon its target. Sharia, however, differentiates the killing of Muslims from that of non-Muslims. The Prophet Mohammad said, “The killing of a believer is more heinous in Allah’s sight than doing away with all of this world.” Because Muslims are the “best” of men, they are prohibited from killing other Muslims except in three cases where they are “with right:” in retaliation for apostasy, adultery, or the killing of another Muslim without right.
Perhaps the most authoritative and readable modern text for understanding Sharia is Nuh Ha Mim Keller’s Reliance of the Traveller. Under “Justice,” section o1.0 states: The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said: “The blood of a Muslim man who testifies that there is no god but Allah and that I am the Messenger of Allah is not lawful to shed unless he be one of three: a married adulterer, someone killed in retaliation for killing another, or someone who abandons his religion and the Muslim community.” Killing a Muslims outside of these three cases constitutes the killing of a Muslim without right.
Retaliation is the conceptual vehicle to explain and enforce justice. (Note that much of what the West calls terrorism is framed by the Muslim actors as retaliation for some prior act such as invading Iraq, torturing prisoners, blaspheming the Prophet, Israel’s existence and so on.) Section o1.1 instructs that retaliation for killing without right is obligatory with various exceptions. Section o1.2, however, further commands that, “[T]he following are not subject to retaliation:…(2) ‘a Muslim for killing a non-Muslim.'” Thus, under Sharia, Muslims are forbidden from killing a Muslim without right but are not similarly restrained from killing non-Muslims.
Other principles can restrict the killing of non-Muslims such as truces and governmental decrees as well as the protection afforded to Dhimmis (generally Christians and Jews) in exchange for their submission to a humiliating lower status. Section o9.11, for instance, states, “It is unlawful to kill a non-Muslim whom a Muslim has given his guarantee of protection…” It is foolish, however, for Westerners to imagine that Muslims seriously committed to Sharia value the life of a non-Muslim equally except in so far as it can advance the goals of Islam.
This is one reason that the international community has been unable for decades to agree upon a definition of “terror.” The UN General Assembly is predominantly controlled by the OIC which has expressly bound itself to Sharia. The OIC’s 1999 Convention Combating International Terrorism establishes that Sharia controls the OIC definition of “terrorism.” Any such definition not wholly consistent with Sharia would not suffice. Consequently, for “Islamic terror” to be acceptable to OIC Member States it would have to fully comport with Sharia- killing a Muslim without right.
A globally accepted definition of “terror” also requires agreement on some notion of “innocence.” At its core, terrorism involves the killing of “innocents.” But as expounded throughout much of the history of Quranic commentary, Sharia’s notion of killing the innocent is intimately linked with the killing of a Muslim without right. The Quran speaks clearly of killing “believers” or those that “Allah has forbidden.” Killing non-Muslims is a different matter.
Of course, some Muslim voices have condemned certain acts of terror and intra-Muslim violence such as 9/11. Such condemnation is consistent with Sharia when Muslims were also killed without right or the Muslim community was otherwise put at risk in these circumstances. It is, however, a much bigger problem for true Sharia adherents when only non-Muslims are killed.
Obama’s Sleight of Mouth
Islam permits, even proscribes, dissimulation and lying in contexts in which it assists the goals of Islam, especially in Muslim minority territories such as the US. In essence, Obama’s use of the rhetorical narrative described above is, itself, precisely the dissimulation and obfuscation permitted by Islam. Stating that 99.9% of Muslims essentially want what Westerners want is, like many of Obama’s other outright lies, belied by poll after poll showing that most Muslims worldwide favor Sharia among many other things Westerners find repulsive. At the National Prayer Breakfast, attempting to equate Islam with the Golden Rule of Judaism and Christianity, he cites that “there is a hadith that states ‘None of you truly believes until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.'” Obama fails to inform that the overwhelmingly accepted understanding for “brother” is another Muslim. Islam, a bigoted system, simply does not look to treat non-Muslims as Muslims.
While it is inconvenient to ponder the President as simply ignorant, it is even more terrifying to entertain that he knows exactly what he is doing- supporting Sharia as best he can politically accomplish. Much as Yasser Arafat and his successor, Mahmoud Abbas, are famous for telling the West one thing in English only to reveal their true plans to their own people in Arabic, does Obama craftily sends messages to his Muslim audience that often escape media recognition? Perhaps his provocative vocabulary, not just the refusal to pair “Islam” and “terror” but “workplace violence,” “the future does not belong to those who slander the Prophet of Islam,” ” the United States is not and never will be at war with Islam. Islam teaches peace,” and his recent description of a planned anti-Semitic Paris murder at a kosher market as shooting “a bunch of folks in a deli” signals our enemies that he is on script. When he placed the Muslim Brotherhood in the front rows for his Cairo speech, when he described the murder of a US ambassador and three others in Benghazi as the result of spontaneous rage over a YouTube video, and when he declined to join in a Paris march with other world leaders, was he communicating his true allegiance?
The greatest of Obama’s sleight of mouth with Islam lies in his ability to mask the most threatening ways in which our Islamic enemies are operating here at home. The Muslim Brotherhood itself has defined the “Civilization Jihad” it has deployed in the US as “a kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying Western civilization from within and ‘sabotaging’ its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and Allah’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.” This is the long term goal of most of the Muslims with whom Obama meets, employs and strategizes behind closed doors. And while we prefer to think that most Muslims in the US are somehow “assimilated,” more than 80% of the mosques in the US have been found to be Sharia compliant and advocate Jihad. The Brotherhood, through its many associated and/or affiliated “front groups” in the US is patiently committed to achieving its goal of ultimately Islamicizing the US. Significantly, no entity has garnered more favor in Obama’s policies related to Islam than the Brotherhood.
And on the international level, Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have masked their deep cooperation with the goals of the OIC to globally criminalize speech critical of Islam. Once this is accomplished and no one can speak out against Islam, our Islamic enemies will be perfectly positioned to fulfill their true goal of world domination. Clinton’s own “Istanbul Process” was a major step along this path and one can even sense in Obama’s approach to regulating the internet more than an abstract objective of ultimately curbing anti-Islam speech.
We see the “progress” already made by the Brotherhood and OIC in the Western reaction to the murders performed in response to cartoons that mock Mohammad. Ignored completely is the fact that these and similar acts are always premeditated, often months following the alleged provocation, and frequently organized by the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamic organizations pursuing their goals of changing Western culture. Also overlooked is that Mohammad himself often had murdered those who criticized him, including an 80 year old mother of thirteen who had mocked him in a poem. Her legs were tied to camels pulled in opposite directions. Islam exalts Mohammad as the ideal Muslim so those acting today as Mohammad did are being “good Muslims.”
Instead, the West reacts by imputing that special “fragile Muslim” sensitivity and transferring responsibility for these acts onto itself; then incrementally changing its laws to restrict its own behavior. Europe has created a variety of speech and tolerance laws far ahead of the US but the latter is beginning to show signs of moving toward similar Islamic accommodation through the concepts of “incitement” and “imminent harm.” Increasingly, opinion leaders and politicians, while giving an obligatory nod to the First Amendment, pontificate that behavior aimed at this special Muslim sensitivity should be prevented because it is the “adult,” “rational,” and “tolerant” thing to do. This is precisely how the cultural accommodation of the Civilization Jihad and the Islamicization of the US is intended to “progress.”
And perhaps most reprehensible has been Obama’s outright deceit surrounding his efforts to reach a nuclear deal with the Islamic Republic of Iran. Michael Doran gives an illustrative account of the negotiations and false rhetoric (http://mosaicmagazine.com/essay/2015/02/obamas-secret-iran-strategy/) including claiming that his sanctions brought Iran to the table, that the negotiations have frozen or halted Iran’s program all the while reversing six UN resolutions that had commanded Iran to stop all enrichment by permitting it some. By also permitting research and development, being silent on missile and warhead development, recognizing Iran’s right to enrich and ultimately providing a sunset for any deal that would ultimately give Iran full status as all others under the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty- all while giving sanctions relief- Obama is ultimately enabling a nuclear Iran and likely nuclear Middle East while claiming diplomatic victory.
While some opinion leaders attack the President for lacking a plan for the region and specifically to combat ISIS/ISIL, others including Doran credibly assert that Obama’s Middle East efforts are primarily dedicated to fulfilling the 2006 Iraq Study Group objectives, with emphasis on consummating an historic albeit self-sabotaging nuclear deal with Iran. It is often suggested Obama’s ego and legacy are so invested in such deal that he has lost proper perspective.
Obama’s actions may, however, actually betray a more nefarious strategy: do as little as politically possible so as to foment chaos across the region, all to the benefit of his seeming policy “companions” dedicated to promoting Sharia and Islamic statehood- the Muslim Brotherhood and the Islamic Republic of Iran- while defanging the US’s best ally in the region, Israel. Despite public pressure, resist confronting ISIS/ISIL and Bashar Assad in any truly meaningful way and turn his back on the Christian genocide exploding across the region. In addition, flood the US with Muslim immigrants while keeping it bound to foreign oil despite remarkable innovations at home that can render it virtually energy independent. Remember, Obama has been hailed as perhaps the smartest President in US history. It would be remiss to conclude that the overwhelming consistency of his actions, when viewed apart from his rhetoric, does not accurately reveal and represent his true intentions.
Thus, the Obama administration’s defiant refusal to couple the words “Islam” with “terror” is not the result of naiveté, incompetence, or even delusion. Nor is it a diligent and disciplined effort to prevent unnecessary recruitment or rage. Nor, as the administration rhetorically pretends, is it a respect for a form of Islam that respects all persons equally and is tolerant of all, just as we would hope.
Rather, it is one more act among many of pure respect for Islam and Sharia as largely authorized, taught and understood throughout the Muslim world; not inconsistent with releasing Guantanamo prisoners, prohibiting effective interrogation of captives, unilaterally disarming our military, assisting Muslim Brotherhood takedowns of “apostate” tyrants in Egypt and Libya, idly observing the collapse of Yemen, destabilizing Arab partners like Jordan and Saudi Arabia, paralyzing Israel’s ability to defend itself, facilitating massive Muslim immigration and “refugee resettlement” in the US, largely limiting drone targets (with little concrete verifiable disclosure) to those who have arguably killed Muslims without right, assisting the OIC with its long term programs including globally criminalizing speech critical of Islam, and ultimately actively facilitating a Muslim nuclear program in the hands of an Iranian Islamic state. The administration, with Obama as Islamic community organizer, is not only placating Muslims and, in particular, our Islamic enemies; it is conforming US policy to Islam and Sharia.
While maneuvering the public and the media into endless debate over one portrayal of Islam, Obama avoids challenge over how his actions have consistently supported Sharia and the goals of our Islamic enemies. Given that Islam means submission, this seemingly incomprehensible avoidance of the words “Islamic terrorism” demonstrates just how far the Quran is advancing in its war against the US Constitution. This administration has already submitted.