We live in dangerous but also cynical times. Many on the left, from the president on down, refuse to acknowledge that the West is at war with radical Islamic terrorists. They are content merely to call ISIS an “extremist” group and lump it in the same category as other mass murderers like Timothy McVeigh.
There is a palpable risk in doing so. For one thing, it blurs the very important distinction between acts of terrorism and other criminal acts — especially those carried out with firearms.
To understand the problem, consider what Philadelphia police are calling an “attempted assassination” of a police officer late Thursday.
The facts of the case would seem to make it pretty clear-cut, and yet District Attorney Seth Williams reacted to news of the shooting by remarking, “I’m very thankful the officer is alive. This shows us the need for smarter laws when it relates to guns on the street.” [Emphasis added]
It’s not clear how smarter gun laws would have made a difference in this shooting, which was carried out with a stolen police weapon. But more importantly, D.A. Williams is overlooking the 800-pound guerilla in the room: the fact that the assailant claimed he was acting in the name of Islam.
The unwillingness to distinguish between acts of terrorism perpetrated with guns and other mass shootings is a failure that can be seen in the nation’s leadership. In his tearful and highly politicized speech on gun violence this week, Barack Obama recalled:
Five years ago this week, a sitting member of Congress and 18 others were shot at, at a supermarket in Tucson, Arizona. It wasn’t the first time I had to talk to the nation in response to a mass shooting, nor would it be the last. Fort Hood. Binghamton. Aurora. Oak Creek. Newtown. The Navy Yard. Santa Barbara. Charleston. San Bernardino. Too many.
But at least two of those shootings — Fort Hood and, most recently, San Bernardino — were self-avowed acts of Islamic terrorism. These shootings had more in common with the Boston Marathon bombings than the other tragedies mentioned.
This is more than just a semantic distinction. A report filed shortly after the San Bernardino massacres revealed that Obama had convened a meeting with the National Security Council and heads of other federal enforcement agencies whom he ordered ultimately to play down the terrorist angle. This remained the official administration narrative even after investigators found pipe bombs that Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik had planted at the Inland Regional Center, hoping to kill first responders.
A report issued jointly in September 2014 by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the U.N. Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) revealed that ISIS had killed or injured at least 8,493 civilians in Iraq in the first eight months of the year. The report is admirable for the chilling detail into which it goes in chronicling the group’s atrocities.
Among the ways in which death was inflicted are public hangings, torching or blowing up homes with the occupants inside, beheadings, setting of IEDs (improvised explosive devices) along roadsides, and execution by firing squad. Even if one calls murder by firing squad a death by shooting, limiting one’s focus to gun control in the war on terror — which is what the left in essence is doing — is a recipe for failure of the most abject kind.