Americans are appropriately responding to last Sunday’s terrorist attack in Orlando, which took dozens of innocent lives, with unfathomable grief and a sense of stabbing darkness. As is said in Orthodox Christian memorial services, may their memory be eternal.
But it would be a disservice to these forty-nine innocent Americans if grief alone comprised the totality of the nation’s reaction. The time has also come to start asking and answering some specific, difficult questions about Islamic extremism and American policies to address it. This starts with acknowledging the threat and evil of Islamic extremism specifically by its name—and understanding that Islamic terrorism, much like Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union during the Cold War, seeks the very destruction of America. In this war on terror, it’s difficult to envision anything beyond two outcomes: either the nation will confront and defeat the threat of Islamic extremism, or Islamic extremists will continue to inflict vast death and suffering on Americans and Christians globally.