What liberals get wrong about terrorism

Uri Freidman:
Shortly after three men with knives and a van spent eight minutes murdering and maiming people at random on London Bridge, one of the Democratic Party’s leading voices on national security responded on Twitter. Chris Murphy began by criticizing Donald Trump for sounding the alarms. “My god,” he wrote. “@POTUS has no idea that the goal of terrorists is to instill a level of fear in the public disproportionate to the actual threat.” The Connecticut senator tried to put the threat in proper proportion. “Terrorism is a real threat,” he acknowledged, “but remember that since 9/11, you have a greater chance of being killed by a falling object than by terrorists.” Murphy then issued a five-point rebuttal to Trump’s approach to terrorism. He did not issue a five-point plan for defeating falling objects.

Maybe Murphy didn’t do this because falling objects are not equivalent to three men ramming and hacking people to death on London Bridge. Terrorists attack not just individuals but society, which makes mortality rates a poor measure of the danger terrorism poses. Falling objects “attack” neither. The men behind the carnage in London appear to have been inspired by ISIS, the same organization that has recently motivated young Muslim men to mow down civilians from Minya to Manchester, Berlin to Baghdad, Istanbul to Orlando, and beyond. Telling people not to be frightened by such acts—that fear is what the terrorists want—does not make those acts less frightening. Many people are scared byterrorism, despite the allegedly comforting statistics, because terrorism is scary. It’s designed to be. And most people recognize that while terrorism takes various forms, one of the most virulent strains these days is extremist violence committed in the name of Islam. They distinguish, in other words, between wobbly furniture and jihadist terror.
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Murphy’s reaction to the London attack captures a common line of reasoning, particularly on the left, and it recalls some of the clinical rhetoric that Barack Obama used in similar circumstances. In repeatedly resisting (with someexceptions) any language that associated terrorism with extremist interpretations of Islam, the former president provided fodder to right-wing critics who argued that he was misleading people about the nature of the problem. And in his cerebral approach to counterterrorism, Obama could come across as tone-deaf to the public mood. After attackers killed 130 people in Paris , for example, Obama scoffed at reporters’ questions about whether the bloodshed would change his ISIS strategy. My colleague Jeffrey Goldberg documented what happened next on the president’s overseas trip:

Air Force One departed Antalya and arrived 10 hours later in Manila. That’s when the president’s advisers came to understand, in the words of one official, that “everyone back home had lost their minds.” Susan Rice, trying to comprehend the rising anxiety, searched her hotel television in vain for CNN, finding only the BBC and Fox News. She toggled between the two, looking for the mean, she told people on the trip.

Later, the president would say that he had failed to fully appreciate the fear many Americans were experiencing about the possibility of a Paris-style attack in the U.S. Great distance, a frantic schedule, and the jet-lag haze that envelops a globe-spanning presidential trip were working against him. But he has never believed that terrorism poses a threat to America commensurate with the fear it generates. Even during the period in 2014 when ISIS was executing its American captives in Syria, his emotions were in check. Valerie Jarrett, Obama’s closest adviser, told him people were worried that the group would soon take its beheading campaign to the U.S. “They’re not coming here to chop our heads off,” he reassured her. Obama frequently reminds his staff that terrorism takes far fewer lives in America than handguns, car accidents, and falls in bathtubs do. Several years ago, he expressed to me his admiration for Israelis’ “resilience” in the face of constant terrorism, and it is clear that he would like to see resilience replace panic in American society. Nevertheless, his advisers are fighting a constant rearguard action to keep Obama from placing terrorism in what he considers its “proper” perspective, out of concern that he will seem insensitive to the fears of the American people.

Into this emotional void stepped Donald Trump, who on terrorism is the id to Obama’s ego. He rails against political correctness, portrays “radical Islamic terrorism” as a grave threat to the nation, and embodies the fearful alarmism that terrorism can provoke.
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I think the real problem with liberal politicians is that they do not really want to fight the terrorists and those who sponsor them.  They view it as a diversion from their real objectives of control freak government to deal with "climate change" and spending on social programs to buy votes.

To push back against those who want to more vigorously fight the jihadis they claim that focusing on the Islamic aspects of the enemy by claiming without evidence that doing so will alienate other Muslims.

In other words, they are making the argument that criticizing Islamic terrorism will turn Muslims into mass murderers.  Do they really think that pushing back against the ideology of the terrorist will turn ordinary people into mass murders?

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