There is a difference between good and evil. It is strange to have to make this assertion in response to a writer whose honorific is “Reverend,” but these are strange times.
In a recent guest column in the Daily Hampshire Gazette, the Rev. Peter Kakos defends President Obama against those who complain that he does not use the word terrorist when referring to terrorists. He urges us to stop the “misuse of language that incites violence” so as to “help prevent an even worse war” than the Iraq war. Rev. Kakos is wrong in two distinct ways.
First, Islamic-supremacist violence needs no linguistic incitement. The mere existence of Jews, Christians and women with full civil rights are cause enough.
Second, prevention is not an option at this point. The war between ISIS and the United States has already started. It began when ISIS declared war on us in July 2012, calling the U.S. the “protector of the cross” and urging Muslims to rally to ISIS in order to defend Islam.
But it is not the president’s reluctance to refer to the rapists, enslavers, beheaders and aspiring genocidaires of the Islamic State as “terrorists” that many of us find galling, but his refusal to acknowledge that their claim to religious motivation is an honest one. The president eschews variants on “Islamist” ostensibly because he thinks using the words would legitimize that claim.