The Summit That Was Not

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?


5 thoughts on “The Summit That Was Not”

  1. Marc:

    Could you give us your thoughts on a couple questions below?

    What in your opinion should the US and other countries do to protect ourselves and stop the spread of ISIS. It seems like if you kill one two more spring up in his place.

    How could ISIS convince an American with a good job and all that implies to risk his life on a religion or an ideology? In other words, why is ISIS successful in its efforts to export its religion /ideology in prosperous countries? Are all these people delusional? We have the Holy Spirit living in and guiding us. What is their motivation? The excitement of war? The promise of virgins?

    As you can see I have no answers only questions.


  2. “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.”

    If one takes your position to its logical conclusions, reductio ad absurdum, it is ALSO “classic Marx” to argue that self-proclaimed CHRISTIANS who commit acts of terrorism (abortion-clinic bombers, those who harass and promote violence against homosexuals, etc.) do not represent true Christianity but instead a dangerous ideology.

    No, you are not right. Your second paragraph suggests that you don’t understand Marx, esp on religion. No offense–my undergrads don’t either, lol. I struggle with him myself sometimes.

    1. I don’t agree with your comparison of a professed Christian bombing an abortion clinic and being physically violent toward homosexuals to professed Muslims who are physically violent to women and Christians. The former are not emulating the founder of Christianity, but the latter are following in the footsteps of the founder of Islam.

      Also, could you be more specific how you think Marc’s statements about Marxism and religion show a misunderstanding of Marxism? It does seem to be a reasonable (and, I might add, astute) explanation for our president’s refusal to connect ISIS or ISIL with Islam (especially since the first “I” stands for Islamic. I do not know if it is accurate, but it does seem reasonable.

  3. To Jeff Adams:
    It is possible I didn’t state what I said about Marx clearly, but I believe (as do many others) that Marx had the view of “ideology” that I intended to convey. Marx and Marxists define ideology: “The ruling ideas are nothing more than the ideal expression of the dominant material relationships, the dominant material relationships grasped as ideas; hence of the relationships which make the one class the ruling one, therefore, the ideas of their dominance” (Marx and Engels, The German Ideology, Part One). If we take this quote as accurate, it does indeed sound like the way President Obama speaks about Islam. Now the president may adapt the idea/term to suit his goals, but he is saying that the “facade” of ideas is not really what Islam is. President Obama presume to tell us what it really is about.

    Moreover, I do not propose that we refuse to take the ideas of “radicals” in any faith seriously or relegate them to the realm of ideology. I take those ideas seriously, but I was (and am) arguing that the ideas of Islam are uniformly more radical (even when interpreted in their proper linguistic and historical contexts) than those of Christians who have misinterpreted the Bible. Now we may have a disagreement on what misinterpetation is. I perceive you would not agree with me on certain aspects of meaning in the Bible. But my focus here is Islam and President Obama’s seemingly strange treatment of it. Nevertheless, I would suggest you look into some of the cases you mention regarding abortion clinic bombings or “harassment of homosexuals.” First, bombings of abortion clinics have been almost non-existent, though some who did it did call themselves Christian (self-reported and which I will assume to be deviant Christianity unless proven otherwise). As to “gay harassment” I would like to know what you mean by harassment or promotion of violence. I have not seen this. I have seen strong disagreement, but not harassment or advocacy of violence (by any normal meaning of the terms). I simply don’t see the evidence. Either we have different definitions or are reading different sources or something else.

  4. My question is, what are Christians doing specifically to effect this situation? It seems that most Christians are sitting back and letting the government take care of a religious situation.

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