Tony Perkins is President of Family Research Council. This article was co-written with Rep. Ted Poe of Texas. This article appeared in RedState.com on February 11, 2015.
Last week people around the world were horrified when a gruesome video emerged of ISIS terrorists burning a Jordanian pilot alive in a cage. King Abdullah of Jordan responded to these barbaric acts quickly and decisively, promising and delivering a severe response. Meanwhile back in Washington, President Obama responded in a different way. At the National Prayer Breakfast he took to the podium and self-righteously compared the acts of ISIS to Christians during the Crusades as if to justify current day world turmoil and the spread of Islamic jihad.
He upbraided those of us deeply concerned with the growing threat of radical Islamic extremism. We do not accept the President’s dressing down of Christians. His words almost dismiss the killing of Christians by certain Muslims because of the Crusades—really? Today, in the year 2015, terrorists are beheading and burning people alive in the name of their religion. They are indiscriminant in their murder—killing other Muslims, Jews and Christians. The President is timid and refuses to call it what it is—murder in the name of radical Islam.
Mr. Obama charges us not to forget our mistakes, yet he seems intent on ignoring our successes – successes so remarkable that they constitute a good measure of America’s exceptionalism. He also warns us not to forget that some professing Christians have, in the increasingly distant past, sometimes used their espoused faith as a pretext to justify evil. No true Christian affirms brutality or bigotry in the name of Christ nor, more importantly, do the teachings of Jesus give them warrant. One is left to wonder to whom the President’s pointless and hostile rebuke directed and if, in making it, he even gave a thought to the hundreds of thousands of Christians now living in crowded poverty after being driven from their homes by ISIS – or to those thousands mourning the savage slaughter of their loved ones by that same Islamic movement.
He might answer that his intended target was those who claim Islam is intrinsically violent and that, in fact, ISIS, the Boko Haram, Hamas, the French terrorists and their ilk are theological aberrations.
The great majority of Muslims in the world are not terrorists and are as appalled by the actions of their co-religionists as are decent people everywhere. It would be helpful for peace if more leading voices of Islam were more vocal in denouncing this demonic brutality.
American presidential leadership is sorely needed. A Churchillian leader would not hesitate to lead the way in defining our enemy—radical Islam. A Churchillian leader would more aggressively lead an international coalition of leaders from across the globe – especially those from Muslim countries – to isolate the virus of Islamic terrorism. ISIS is not the only terrorist group, there are several, and they are unquestionably the single greatest threat to peace and stability in the Middle East, Africa and Asia, and work to destroy it. Sadly, another Sir Winston Mr. Obama is not. In fact, he can’t even define the enemy. Political correctness trumps reality for this President. The American President has largely been missing in action, and the terrorists know it. Like many of our enemies, the terrorists act the way they do because they no longer fear us. Whether in dealing with Islam or foreign policy in general, President Obama insists on making all things morally equivalent, rendering clear moral distinctions virtually impossible to realize. He condemns religious violence without noting that the persecution of Christians around the world is the great religious crisis of our time.
The President’s understanding of the world is more reminiscent of a child’s description of the ride on Disneyland’s It’s a Small World, than a sober, honest appraisal of the crumbling of the international order. He is not leading. His tenuous statements about terrorism, evil and the dangers of radical Islam only confuse our friends and embolden the enemies of freedom.
America is imperfect; we get it, Mr. President. But it is also great and noble, and if we can borrow from history for a moment, it remains what Lincoln called “the last, best hope of earth.”