President Obama took time out from his busy social schedule to present a statement Wednesday afternoon on the ISIS (or ISIL) beheading of a kidnapped American photojournalist. It was unsurprisingly full of empty rhetoric without any reference to action.
He began by announcing that “the entire world is appalled” by the murder of James Wright Foley – or as Obama referred to him repeatedly and familiarly, “Jim” (this has to be the first speech by Obama in which he referred to someone else more often than himself). Foley’s murder was “an act of violence that shocks the conscience of the entire world.” I don’t believe the President of the United States is authorized to speak for the entire world, but in any case there is a significant portion of the world that not only wasn’t shocked but has no conscience about the butchering of infidels, and that’s the problem that needs to be addressed.
But first, Obama eulogized Foley: “Jim was a journalist, a son, a brother, and a friend.” Such an intimate, even maudlin statement would be entirely suitable among friends and relatives at a funeral service but is frankly unworthy of a presidential announcement to the world. But Obama wasn’t done expressing his unconvincing grief: “All of us feel the ache of his absence. All of us mourn his loss.” Apparently Obama mourns by heading straight to the links for another round of golf, because that’s what he did immediately after he delivered this statement.
“We keep in our prayers those other Americans who are separated from their families,” he continued. Like U.S. Marine Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi, who remains jailed in Mexico and has been separated from his family since late March? Keeping him in one’s prayers is a nice gesture but is no substitute for the President of the United States actually lifting a finger to bring that Marine home, something Obama hasn’t done.
He moved on to address the monsters behind Foley’s beheading and countless other sick atrocities. “Let’s be clear about ISIL,” said Obama, although we know by now that anytime Obama declares that he’s going to be clear about something, he’s just posturing at sounding authoritative. He acknowledged that “they have rampaged across cities and villages, killing innocent, unarmed civilians in cowardly acts of violence. They abduct women and children, and subject them to torture and rape and slavery.” Then he purposefully notes that they have murdered Muslims by the thousands and “target Christians and religious minorities, driving them from their homes, murdering them when they can for no other reason than they practice a different religion.”
Yes – a religion different from Islam, but Obama didn’t make that connection. Instead, he declared that “ISIL speaks for no religion.” No? The Islamic State speaks for no religion? “Their victims are overwhelmingly Muslim, and no faith teaches people to massacre innocents.” His language here is disingenuous, because of course Muslim fundamentalists have a different definition of “innocent” from ours, and they have never had a problem slaughtering less orthodox Muslims. “No just God would stand for what they did yesterday... ISIL has no ideology of any value to human beings.”
He’s correct about that last part, and that the ideology is “nihilistic,” but he never says what that ideology is, only that it’s “bankrupt.” Is it bankrupt if it’s gaining adherents daily who are fanatically committed to the elimination of Western civilization? Obama claims that this undefined “ideology” has nothing to offer but “endless slavery to their empty vision, and the collapse of any definition of civilized behavior.” No argument there, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to implode on its own for lack of true believers. Too many feel that Islam has a very compelling vision, and that it is Western freedom that enslaves.
“People like this ultimately fail,” Obama declared with unfounded optimism. “They fail, because the future is won by those who build and not destroy.” Oh? Where is this guarantee written in stone? Because in the real world good doesn’t always win; history belongs to “the strong horse,” as bin Laden once put it, and right now ISIS and their ilk are far more confident than we are about to whom the future belongs. Of one thing we can be certain: the forces of evil and annihilation will win if “those who build” don’t get their civilized ass in gear and eradicate this nihilistic “ideology.”
And yet ultimately, Obama’s statement mentioned not a single action item, only pompous rhetoric: “The United States of America will continue to do what we must do to protect our people. We will be vigilant and we will be relentless. When people harm Americans, anywhere, we do what’s necessary to see that justice is done.” Is there anyone here and abroad who still believes that America under Obama relentlessly protects and seeks justice for her citizens? Need I mention Benghazi?
Obama went on to urge the governments and people of the Middle East to unite in “a common effort to extract this cancer, so that it does not spread. There has to be a clear rejection of these kinds of nihilistic ideologies.” Yes, there has to be, but what is the President of the United States going to do to ensure that? “One thing we can all agree on is that a group like ISIL has no place in the 21st century.” ISIS begs to differ. They believe it is America that has no place in the 21st century.
Before rushing off to the golf course, Obama closed with the vague promise “to confront this hateful terrorism and replace it with a sense of hope and civility. We will do everything that we can to protect our people and the timeless values that we stand for.”
ISIS’ boastful response? “We will drown you in blood.”
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