Defender of the faith

Like al Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, the Islamic State and all the rest, the Paris terrorists promote the imposition of Sharia law in the name of Islam. They all understand themselves to be Muslims acting on behalf of the faith and its prophet. Yet the Obama administration makes a special point of standing up for the good name of Islam, such as it is, and refusing to credit the theologico-political basis of the ideology that drives these terrorist organizations and their adherents.

As the editors of Commentary put it in the magazine’s important February editorial on Zionism after the Paris attacks: “Since the late-20th century, a Saudi-funded, anti-Semitic strain of Islamist radicalism has spread to all corners of the Muslim world. Many of France’s recent Muslim immigrants from North Africa have brought their Islamist and jihadist sympathies to Europe. Indeed, a 2013 poll found that a startling 27 percent of French Muslims younger than 24 support ISIS.”

Yesterday Obama spokesman Josh Earnest came prepared to expound on the Obama administration’s refusal to call the ideology of Islamist terrorists “radical Islam” (video below; the White House transcript of the briefing hasn’t been posted yet). To adapt Tina Turner’s question, what’s Islam got to do with it? As she puts it in the song: “You must try to ignore that it means more than that.”

Earnest rejected the characterization of the terrorists’ ideology as “radical Islam.” Taking the point to a self-satirizing climax, Earnest referred to terrorists as “violent extremists who have sought to incite a religious war against Islam.”

“It does seem clear that these terrorists, let’s call them what they are [Ed.: note this interjection, precisely when Earnest avoids calling them what they are] these terrorists are individuals who would like to cloak themselves in the veil of a particular religion,” Earnest explained. Whatever that particular religion may be.

“The world and the United States, as we’ve discussed before in the context of ISIL, is at war with these individuals, these violent extremists who carry out these acts of terror and try to justify it by invoking this religion.”

“This religion,” whatever it may be.

The cat has got his tongue.

According to Earnest, it’s all a matter of fidelity to reality: “We want to describe exactly happened. These are individuals who carried out an act of terrorism and they later tried to justify that act of terrorism by invoking the religion of Islam and their own deviant view of it,” he said.

As Earnest explained parenthetically at the White House press briefing on Monday, lest anyone pick up the wrong impression, it’s “an otherwise peaceful religion.”

Quotations of Earnest via Bridget Johnson/PJ Media.

C-SPAN video of Earnest via Alex Griswold/Daily Caller.

UPDATE: Mona Charen has a perceptive column today that responds to this variant of Obama’s inanity without directly addressing Obama or Earnest in particular.