Earlier this week, the ABC’s influential Religion & Ethics Report sided with Barack Obama against Donald Trump concerning use of the term radical Islam. On Tuesday, the US President condemned the presumptive Republican presidential nominee’s reference to radical Islam, describing his usage as inappropriate. The controversy ignited following the terrorist attack on a gay nightclub in Florida.
Obama was supported by the left-liberal Brookings Institution’s Shadi Hamid, who tweeted: “Unless you want to offend or alienate Muslims, there’s simply no good reason to ever use ‘radical Islam’ over more precise alternatives.”
The Religion and Ethics Report initially supported the Obama-Hamid call for constricting language. Presenter Andrew West and his colleagues not only retweeted Hamid’s words but added: “Well said — this statement ought to be displayed prominently in every newsroom.” In other words, according to West and co, it’s time to throw the switch to censorship. On Thursday, the ABC announced that it had censured the journalist who wrote the tweet but declined to name the person or remove the post.
It is well known that Obama does not use such terms as radical Islam, Islamist or Islamism. Yet these are useful words because they distinguish the religion of Islam from those who commit or advocate violence in its name.
Obama refutes the use of such words since he wants to believe the recent surge of terrorist attacks on Western and other nations has nothing to do with Islam. Despite the fact the terrorists claim to be motivated, in part at least, by their religious beliefs.
In the most recent newsletter of the London-based Asia-Pacific Foundation, Sajjan M. Gohel and MJ Gohel document the background to the Orlando atrocity. On May 22, Abu Mohammed al-Adnani, head of operations for the so-called Islamic State, issued a statement calling for attacks on the West during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan (which this year runs from June 6 until July 5).
Adnani’s message to the group’s Sunni Muslim supporters was straightforward: “Ramadan, the month of conquest and jihad. Get prepared, be ready … to make it a month of calamity everywhere for non-believers … especially for the fighters and supporters of the caliphate in Europe and America.”
Omar Seddique Mateen went on his murderous spree on June 12 in Orlando. The following day, Larossi Abballa stabbed to death French police commander Jean-Baptiste Salvaing along with his partner Jessica Schneider. Both men claimed they were Islamic State warriors and Islamic State acknowledged them as such.
It is not clear whether the murderers in the US and France acted on the direct instructions of group. But we do know that Islamic State regards itself to be in a war with numerous entities. It sees this jihad as a battle against Christians, Hindus and Jews, plus entities and nations such as North America, Europe, Israel, India and Australia, plus homosexuals, agnostics, atheists, apostate Sunni Muslims, Shia Muslims and more besides.
But some middle-class intellectuals like to pretend the threat does not exist. This despite the fact, as the APF points out, “every time (Adnani) issues edicts, there has been an attack somewhere in the world in a matter of weeks, and sometimes days”.
Denial was rife in Australia following the latest attack. On Tuesday on ABC radio’sMornings with Wendy Harmer, the presenter interviewed former ABC journalist Alice Brennan, who is based in the US. Harmer scoffed at Trump’s claim that Mateen was “born an Afghan to Afghani parents” and declared “he was born in New York, wasn’t he?” Whereupon Brennan said: “The guy was born and bred in the United States of America; it’s not about stopping Muslim people coming into the country.” Neither Harmer nor Brennan focused on the point that Mateen’s parents were born in Afghanistan and his father is a Taliban sympathiser. They also avoided the inconvenient truth that many of the terrorist attacks by Islamists in the West have been carried out by the second or third generation of migrants.
The co-presenter of ABC television’s Lateline, Emma Alberici, tweeted: “Trump’s anti-Muslim stance is nonsensical. Gunman was born in the US and seems to have been motivated by homophobia”. She seemed unaware that in Islamic State-controlled parts of Iraq and Syria, homosexuals are thrown to their deaths from tall buildings. Alberici also managed to raise the issue of Catholicism. But no homosexuals are thrown from the roof of St Peter’s. This is false moral equivalence.
Jonathan Green, the presenter of Radio National’s Sunday Extra made his own contribution to the denial process. Writing on the ABC’s The Drum, he claimed that “political Islam” is but the “imagined root cause” of terrorism. This overlooks the fact the terrorists themselves claim to be Islamists. No imagining here.
And then there is John Birmingham. Writing for Fairfax Media, he called Trump a “massive idiot” and suggested that he is advocating “an anti-Muslim pogrom”. This shows no respect for the real victims of real pogroms.
For all Trump’s insensitivities, no one can properly claim an entitlement to migrate to the US. Birmingham went on to take the fashionable leftist position of branding the Orlando attack as a manifestation of “homophobia”.
Amid the collective breast-beating by the likes of West, Alberici, Green and Birmingham, one sensible view stood out. Mohammed Elleissy from the Jewish Christian Muslim Association, was interviewed by ABC News Breakfast on Tuesday.
He acknowledged that some young Muslim men “affiliate themselves with Islamic State and carry out these attacks” and conceded that the “Muslim community needs to look at its homophobic element” — especially since Muslims expect “a level of acceptance from the broader community” to practise their own faith.
How interesting that a young Muslim man in Australia can identify the problem with radical Islam while the leader of the free world wants to pretend that it does not exist.