Obama Doesn't Get Islamic Terrorism

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When 44 world leaders joined 1.6 million Parisians to condemn Islamist terror last Sunday, President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden were watching football. Secretary of State John Kerry was in India (where it’s been unseasonably cold), to give a speech on global warming.

Attorney General Eric Holder was in Paris but didn’t attend because he was in “high-level meetings,” aides said. With whom? Nearly every prominent French official was at the rally.

There were fewer Obama officials at the rally than have appeared in episodes of the CBS show “The Good Wife,” noted an “ashamed” Jake Tapper of CNN.

Their failure “to play our part on the world stage” is a “painful point of national embarrassment,” said Forbes columnist Rick Ungar.

The absence of senior U.S. officials gave tacit support to the Charlie Hebdo killers, said retired Army intelligence officer Ralph Peters. “Passivity in the face of terror is complicity,” he said.

It’s appalling if the White House didn’t grasp the symbolic importance of U.S. participation, more appalling if the snub were deliberate.

“We’re fighting a war … against terrorism and radical Islamism,” said French Prime Minister Manuel Valls.

That’s not a message Mr. Obama wants to send, wrote Byron York of the Washington Examiner. “The administration no-shows were … the logical result of the president’s years-long effort to downgrade the threat of terrorism,” he wrote.

He’s “the only Western leader who has refused to call this attack Islamic terrorism,” noted Democratic pollster Douglas Schoen, though, when pressed, the president’s spokesman talked of “violent extremism in which individuals invoke the name of Islam.”

Were the circumstances not so grim, watching State Department flack Marie Harf try to avoid saying “Islamic” and “extremism” in the same sentence would have been comedy gold. “We’re going to focus on all the different kinds of extremism,” she told Martha MacCallum of Fox News Monday. What other forms of extremism did Ms. Harf find “particularly troubling?” Ms. MacCallum asked. She couldn’t name any.

The Charlie Hebdo massacre changed “utterly” the reluctance of European elites to acknowledge the Islamist threat, said Daniel Hannan, a British member of the European Parliament. For France, the wakeup call comes in the nick of time. Some neighborhoods in which Muslims (10 percent of the population) live are “no go” areas for police, “breeding grounds for radicalism,” wrote Soeren Kern of the Gatestone Institute.

Sixty percent of prison inmates in France are Muslims. Nearly 20 percent of French citizens say they’ve been harrassed or assaulted by Islamist thugs. Sixteen percent of French Muslims are sympathetic to the brutal terrorists of the Islamic State, according to a poll by a Russian news agency.

European elites responded actively to this Islamist atrocity because the “soft left” has begun to realize what’s at stake, Mr. Hannan said. “Even the dimmest multi-culti sloganizers are starting to see that their cant about freedom not being an absolute right has led us to a bad place.”

Outrage expressed by so many Muslims is encouraging, he said.

The attackers “are criminals, barbarians,” said the imam of a mosque in a Paris suburb. “They have sold their soul to hell.”

“We are horrified by the brutality and the savagery,” said another Paris imam. “This is a thunderous declaration of war.”

“This extremely grave barbaric action is also an attack against democracy and the freedom of the press,” said the French Muslim Council.

“It is an attack, not just on the people of France, but on all of us here in Britain, on our fundamental freedoms,” said the Islamic Society of Britain.

“Killing innocent people in the name of Islam is much, much more offensive to me than any cartoon can ever be,” tweeted Iyad El-Baghdadi. “The ‘Islam’ of the murderers is not mine,” tweeted Mustafa Akyol.

Dutch Muslims who “do not like freedom can pack your bags and leave,” said Rotterdam Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb, a Muslim immigrant from Morocco.

They get it. Why doesn’t President Obama? 

Jack Kelly is a columnist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and The Blade of Toledo, Ohio.

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