I listened to part of President Obama’s closing speech at the “Anti-extremism Summit” today. And I have read what his associates have said about terrorism, particularly in the context of the ISIS threat. I have reached a conclusion about the president, after hearing and reading his words. But first, what did he say today (February 19, 2015 and in days prior)? He said first that terrorism is not real Islam, not “representative of Islam.” He said (and others like Secretary of State John Kerry have also said) that the major problem may well be communities that don’t work. This means that the US and other nations should, in his view, put money into economic development that provides jobs, builds some sort of community spirit, etc. I was not clear what exactly he meant. He and others had said more or less the same thing and the White House press secretary has tried in vain to explain it. Finally, he has said before that the groups in the Middle East that are “disaffected” must be given a voice in the democratic process—a “place at the table” if you will. Let me address these and as I do, explain my theory about President Obama. Don’t be alarmed. It isn’t some grand conspiracy theory, but it is still dangerous to the nation—and I might add, to Christians.
President Obama’s view of the origins and nature of current terrorism is frankly a Marxist view. Note he called it an ideology, a word that can have more than one meaning, but he continued, arguing that it does not represent true Islam. It isn’t really Islam, then, but an ideology “masquerading” as Islamic religion. If I am right, this is classic Marx, who for example, spoke of capitalism as an ideology, a “mask” if you will for something more sinister. For Marx it would be the bourgeois control of the means of production as idealized in the term classical liberalism. Really thought, it is oppression of the proletariat. And the bourgeois are the ideologists. The idea then of classical liberalism or capitalism is simply not really held. It is an excuse. Ideas don’t matter. Religion could not possibly be the cause of terrorism.
Likewise for Obama, the idea of Islam as a set of religious beliefs that is held genuinely or sincerely is dismissed. The terrorists cannot possibly really mean it when they say they are Islamic in a religious sense. Their religious assertions must therefore be false—“false consciousness.” They are in reality just bad people masquerading as Islamic people. Again, Islamic religion cannot be the cause of terrorism. That is why, I believe, the president uses the term “ideology” in his talk. He actually uses it in its Marxist sense. Why? The answer is because that is how he thinks. He was consistently raised and trained in a socialist context. His default is to that language and that way of thinking. When he uses the word ideology, he means what he says from the Marxist perspective. He may be disingenuous on many things, but I believe he really believes what he says on the nature of Islam.
Now Islamic terrorism is a political movement to be sure. But in Islamic religion there is no distinction between church and state, religion and politics—there is not church as such. Therefore, ideas about religion are inevitably connected to ideas about the role and scope of the state. IF ISIS wants a state, it wants an Islamic state, not just any generic , secular state of modern conception. In this respect, ISIS does resemble the situation in the Middle Ages into the17th century in Europe, but only narrowly considered.
Second, the proposal that perhaps the Muslims, particularly the youth. of the Middle East, need jobs, is really a “code” for material welfare. The president believes that material or economic aid will go a long way toward solving the terrorism problem. If it were simply an ideology, he might be partly right, though I fail to see the actual benefit from simply giving things away and hoping form the best—we have been trying that here for decades and what have we gotten? The problem is that Islamist terrorism is not just an ideology. It is a religion. It is to be sure one interpretation of Islam, one that has been there since the religion began. But it is genuinely religious. How do you solve a religious problem with material assistance? Religious sentiments run deep. They aren’t superficial, like a piece of clothing one puts on and takes off at will. No one would deny that material welfare policy, judiciously used, can help in the short run. But to use it as the long run solution, as Obama and his followers suggest, strikes me as unrealistic and also even dangerous.
As a side note, it is worth emphasizing that Christianity, to the extent it ever went as far as this Islamic terrorism has gone, has long since moved beyond that. All Christians agree that terrorism is wrong, evil. I already wrote on Obama’s historical errors, so I won’t go there again. But after State Department spokesperson Marie Harf finally found a nasty but minor “Christian” terrorist group in Africa to equate with ISIS (and which Obama failed to deal with after saying he would), I have to say something. I like the way Kevin Williamson put it: “Islam carries radical Islam within it, and that the jihadist element making war on all opportune fronts — not only on the West — is not an alien force appended to Islam but an organic part of the whole.” (National Review, February 19, 2015)
But to move on, I mentioned that President Obama and advisors also said that the Middle Eastern and other groups involved in terrorism must be given a voice in governing or in determining the future of a given region. I also heard the term “democratic process” being used. Does this mean that everyone gets an equal voice in decision-making? Even terrorists? What does it mean to have a voice? I suppose one could argue that all that is meant is that we need to listen to what disaffected groups say. We have been listening, and they have been saying pretty radical things—and backing their words with radical actions. Are we saying this is all just a big misunderstanding? If we give the place at the table, what would happen? If Islamic terrorists are true to form, they would not ask, they would demand, radical changes in governance and culture. They might simply take governance. They might not simply take it, but take it with extreme violence—not just in the name of Allah but believing their cause was sanctioned by Allah. I cannot see how the democratic process is going to work here. This is terrorism, not an oppressed minority, as some would have it.
To close, let me stress that I do not believe President Obama is a Muslim. The evidence is just not there. What his religious affections are however I do not know. My own speculations are that he is a secularist, not atheist, but simply not interested in religion in a meaningful sense. He has little if any understanding of religion, Christian or otherwise. Whatever he may be, he certainly does not have any real conception of how to address genuinely religious but terroristic activity, for reasons I outlined above.
The terrorism summit I can’t help thinking will not work out well. Maybe it wasn’t designed to. Perhaps it was just for show. But if so, the show was pretty bad. In the meantime, Christians continue to be killed. And even before all this, the Christian population in the Middle East has been declining for some time, due to persecution. Does anyone care?