Ted Cruz thinks Democratic presidential debates are all sweetness and light and softball questions, but last night John Dickerson made a concerted effort to deploy a ridiculous right-wing talking point:
Marco Rubio, also running for president, said that this attack showed-- in-- the attack in Paris showed that we are at war with radical Islam. Do you agree with that characterization, radical Islam?
I don't think we're at war with Islam. I don't think we at war with all Muslims. I think we're at war with jihadists who have--
Just to interrupt, he-- he didn't say all Muslims. He just said radical Islam. Is that a phrase you don't--
Clinton, for one, repeatedly used the term "jihadist" instead, going further than even the Obama administration likes. It prefers "violent extremist."
But when pressed on whether using "radical Islam" was more appropriate, the former secretary of state said it was unwise to "be painting with too broad a brush" because it could alienate allies in the Muslim world
Yes, she used the word "jihadist." Specifically, she said this:
We need to have a resolve that will bring the world together to root out the kind of radical jihadist ideology that motivates organizations like ISIS, the barbaric, ruthless, violence jihadist, terrorist group.
She also spoke of "jihadi extreme terrorism" and "jihadi radicalism" -- and all this before Dickerson's question.
Is this really not tough enough talk? Is it really not specific enough?
But no -- the right-wing meme is that all terrorism will magically disappear if only quisling Democrats will man up and utter the "Rumplestiltskin" phrase "radical Islam." Or is it "Islamic terrorism"?Or "Islamic extremism"? It keeps changing.
The point is, it's meaningless to deploy troops or drop bombs. Killing bin Laden? Fruitless. Blowing Awlaki or Jihadi John to smithereens? Pointless. You have to say MUSLIM MUSLIM MUSLIM. It's right there in Machiavelli. Or Sun-Tzu. I forget which.
Here was Clinton's answer to Dickerson:
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I-- I think that you can-- you can talk about Islamists who-- clearly are also jihadists. But I think it's-- it-- it's not particularly helpful to make the case that-- Senator Sanders was just making that I agree with that we've gotta reach out to Muslim countries. We've gotta have them be part of our coalition.
If they hear people running for-- president who basically shortcut it to say we are somehow against Islam-- that was one of the real contributions-- despite all the other problems that George W. Bush made after 9/11 when he basically said after going to a mosque in Washington, "We are not at war with Islam or Muslims. We are at war with violent extremism. We are at war with people who use their religion for purposes of power and oppression." And yes, we are at war with those people that I don't want us to be painting with too brand a brush.
For this she's being pilloried in the right-wing media with ridiculous headlines such as Breitbart's "HILLARY: ‘WE ARE AT WAR WITH VIOLENT EXTREMISM,’ REFUSES TO SAY ‘RADICAL ISLAM.’"
Clinton refers to the speech President George W. Bush gave at the Islamic Center of Washington, D.C. on September 17, 2001. A transcriptwas posted on Bush's official White House website under the following title:
"Islam is Peace" Says President.
President Bush said:
Like the good folks standing with me, the American people were appalled and outraged at last Tuesday's attacks. And so were Muslims all across the world. Both Americans and Muslim friends and citizens, tax-paying citizens, and Muslims in nations were just appalled and could not believe what we saw on our TV screens.
These acts of violence against innocents violate the fundamental tenets of the Islamic faith. And it's important for my fellow Americans to understand that.
The English translation is not as eloquent as the original Arabic, but let me quote from the Koran, itself: In the long run, evil in the extreme will be the end of those who do evil. For that they rejected the signs of Allah and held them up to ridicule.
The face of terror is not the true faith of Islam. That's not what Islam is all about. Islam is peace. These terrorists don't represent peace. They represent evil and war.
When we think of Islam we think of a faith that brings comfort to a billion people around the world. Billions of people find comfort and solace and peace. And that's made brothers and sisters out of every race -- out of every race.
America counts millions of Muslims amongst our citizens, and Muslims make an incredibly valuable contribution to our country. Muslims are doctors, lawyers, law professors, members of the military, entrepreneurs, shopkeepers, moms and dads. And they need to be treated with respect. In our anger and emotion, our fellow Americans must treat each other with respect.
Women who cover their heads in this country must feel comfortable going outside their homes. Moms who wear cover must be not intimidated in America. That's not the America I know. That's not the America I value.
On foreign policy, George W. Bush is the take-no-prisoners war hero Breitbart writers and readers rally around to this day. And yet he said this.
Well, no wonder jihadist violence continues. It couldn't be because the Bush administration refused to recognize that the real enemy was a group of non-state actors known as Al Qaeda. It couldn't be because Bush diverted America's resources into an entirely unrelated war in Iraq, which was then horribly mismanaged for years in multiple ways. It couldn't be because U.S. torture and indefinite detention were used as recruiting tools by the jihadists.
No, it must be because Bush never said "Rumplestiltskin."
(Crossposted at No More Mister Nice Blog)