Obama and the refusal to call a cat a cat

Obama and the refusal to call a cat a cat

In French, we have an expression: “Call a cat a cat.” Appeler un chat un chat. That is exactly what French Prime Minister Manuel Valls did after the horrific terrorist attacks that hit my country on Jan. 7, when he identified “radical Islam” as our enemy. In France, most rallied to this clear acknowledgment of the threat we are dealing with, because it is simply impossible to deny.

That is why it has sounded almost surreal when the Obama administration and many observers in the U.S., despite their heartening support for the French, go to great lengths to insist that the terrorist attack had nothing to do with Islam.

The intention is good: President Obama doesn’t want to mix Islamist terrorists and the wider community of Muslims around the world. He is trying to appeal to Muslims, to prevent them from feeling ostracized. More than ever, the world needs Muslims who wish to live in harmony with non-Muslims.

But ask Flemming Rose how the Obama approach sounds to someone who knows too well the Islamist threat. Mr. Rose, now the foreign editor of the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, was its cultural editor in 2005 when he had an idea for a series of cartoons lampooning the Prophet Muhammad.

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