The Complacency Behind America’s Refusal to Fight Back Against ISIS and Islam

Pictured: A gay man thrown off a building by Islamic militants.

As Republicans continue to tear each other to shreds over issues having nothing whatsoever to do with the American economy or defense, our vulnerability to more Muslim-inspired attacks remains just the same.

After the 11/13/15 Paris attacks by the Islamic State (ISIS), a reader wrote, in response to my widely read column:

As always – brilliant and necessary to be said. But what if it’s more than just self flagellating altruism? What if the left’s hunger for power and totalitarianism knows no boundaries? Like the proverbial frog relaxing in warm water unaware that he is in a pot on a stove with the knob set on high, we have accepted strip searches by a TSA that has been proved to be incompetent, and we will accept gun control laws within months of the next terrorist strike against our malls, theaters, stadiums and restaurants.

Is there any doubt that Paris was given a message: There is no place you may frequent that is safe. When a country’s leaders profess kindness toward a people harboring terrorists, I am prone to step

back and try to find their logic for such complacency. The left has never shied away from sacrificing a few or even many for the “right” causes. Collateral damage is to be expected. Don’t let a good crisis go to waste. Right Rahm? If a crisis is not available, let’s create one. The left is patient.

You don’t have to be a conspiracy theorist to understand that self-sacrificial policies ultimately will lead to totalitarianism.

Great points. So what’s really behind the left’s apologies and excuses for Islamic terrorism? On the surface, the progressive left and Islamists should be mortal enemies. Like the Christian religious right wing, whom members of the left detest, the fundamentalist Muslims wish to blend church and state. Unlike the Christian right, the Islamist right seeks to end the distinction between church and state altogether, and to bring this about by violence and totalitarian rule. Nobody on the Christian right, to my knowledge, goes nearly that far.

If the American left opposes the Christian right for its efforts to ban abortion and end gay marriage, then you would expect that same American left, which includes Obama, to detest the Muslims who seek to jail or execute gays, and treat women as second-class or non-citizens with no individual rights at all. Where are the feminists and the gay rights activists when it comes to opposing, or even mildly criticizing the Islamic fundamentalists? They’re as silent as the mythical (although never visible) mass numbers of “moderate” Muslims.

Consider the words of President Barack Obama himself, published by on 2/1/15, a few months before ISIS attacked Paris:

“Obama said the U.S. needs to be wary of handing terrorists ‘the victory of overinflating’ their actions and the threat they pose to the U.S. Obama emphasized that while he is mindful of the ‘terrible costs of terrorism,’ terror groups aren’t an ‘existential threat to the United States or the world order.’ ‘The truth of the matter is that they can do harm. But we have the capacity to control how we respond in ways that do not undercut what’s the essence of who we are. That means that we don’t torture, for example, and thereby undermine our values and credibility around the world,’ Obama said. ‘It means that we don’t approach this with a strategy of sending out occupying armies and playing Whack-a-Mole wherever a terrorist group appears because that drains our economic strength and it puts enormous burdens on our military.’

“The U.S. needs to instead keep its response ‘surgical,’ Obama said, ‘to address the specific threat the U.S. faces without alienating the majority of Muslims who are peaceful and reject extremism – those who have embraced a nihilistic, violent, almost medieval interpretation of Islam.’”

These comments are truly remarkable. He has made nearly identical comments since Paris and San Bernardino. Obama states that Islamic terrorism of the sort seen on 9/11 and many other times before and since, is not an “existential threat” to the United States. If 9/11 and similar events do not constitute an existential threat, then what does? Imagine if an American president had said this a day, a month or even a year after 9/11. No president, of either party and of any race, would have been able to withstand the criticism that followed.

My reader suggests that more is going on here than only self-sacrifice. And that’s true. Obama’s attitudes and actions (or lack of action, in the case of ISIS) are almost identical to those you would expect from an American president who’s actually on the side of the terrorists. If we had such a president, openly on the side of the terrorists, he would say things like, “America has been a big, selfish bully for all of its history. And don’t even get me started on the racism. America is getting exactly what it deserves from these terrorists. We brought it on ourselves. No, I’m not going to attack them. Why should I bring death and destruction, or even discomfort, to even one Muslim citizen of the Middle East? Israel may be one thing. But not the rest of the Middle East. These people are our victims. If we have to take hits on their behalf, so be it. We’re not lifting a finger to resist.”

No, Obama has not said these things. But imagine what the foreign and defense policy of a president would be if he actually said and believed these things. Such a president would make “peace” with Iran, the # 1 state sponsor of Islamic terrorism, and an open enemy of the United States since 1979. Obama has done that. We would return assets frozen when their terrorist regime began, lift all embargoes and sign a one-sided treaty which forbids them from building nuclear weapons when we know full well they will build and use them anyway. Obama has done that. We would respond to ISIS by saying, at most, “That’s really awful,” and not doing a single thing to lift a finger against fighting them. (“Pinprick” bombings are ineffective, and Obama knows it.) That’s Obama’s policy.

There’s really no point trying to understand Obama. He’s a hardcore leftist whose wife has openly admitted that she hates America, and whose policies in opposition to all things historically American – military strength, economic freedom, capitalism, innovation, individualism, self-reliance – have been relentlessly and profoundly consistent. The thing to try and understand is why half or so of the country voted for this America-hating man twice – and seems poised to vote for more of the same in the next presidential election, which shows the law-breaking Hillary Clinton (who’s on the same page as Obama ideologically) either tied with, or ahead of, any potential Republican challenger.

Self-sacrifice is the root. Self-sacrifice is the basis both for secular progressivism and traditional Christian conservatism. However such perspectives may differ, they tend to agree on one point: That man’s central purpose for living is not to advance his own life, but to advance the lives of others in selfless service.

Conservatives tend to say self-sacrifice should be attained through God and church; progressives and liberals tend to say this should be the job of government. But in this respect, self-sacrifice, they tend to agree on the overriding goal. As a result of this, two psychological results become clear:

The first is atonement. Atonement is an emotionally driven need to make reparations for perceived or actual wrongdoing. Atonement can refer to a subconscious emotional condition as much as deliberate action. In the case of America’s hardcore leftist progressives, such as Obama, the atonement is deliberate and conscious. “America is selfish, bad, racist and wrong. Case in point? America’s treatment of the Middle East and Islam. Evil, selfish oil companies exploit the Middle East and hurt the sensibilities of Islam. We must atone in any way we can.” Republicans do not fight back, other than with rare exception. Why? Is it because they’re tactically stupid and morally weak? Yes. But the tactical stupidity stems from the moral weakness.

Why the moral weakness? Because most Republican conservatives, as deeply believing Christians who have accepted Jesus’ message that self-sacrifice is the ideal, know that on some level (by their standard), Obama is right. It all goes back to morality, and the definition of morality. If Republicans were staunch upholders and advocates of self-interest and self-determination, as America’s founders (although somewhat Christian) were, then we’d see a different picture. We’d find more Republicans able and willing to stand up to Obama, willing to call him on his wrong ideology about ethics: “America is good precisely because it has historically been capitalist, respectful of private property, and the world’s primary mover and shaker. Obama is wrong. America is not about sacrifice. America is about the self-interested, individualistic pursuit of excellence, which requires the protection of private property. Egalitarianism in wealth is unjust and wrong.”

Whatever his flaws and contradictions (and there are many), you find a lot of this attitude and spirit in Donald Trump. Donald Trump, at least if you believe him, comes across as recognizing that America is, and by all moral right should be, great. His campaign slogan is, “Make America great again.” You find this more in his assertion of foreign policy than economics, where he unfortunately makes major concessions to the welfare and entitlement state, as well as to the mixed economy. But Trump’s attitude about the moral superiority of America is striking only because it’s unusual and stands out. My point here is not to defend Trump so much as the attitude he projects, which resonates with some, and represents a departure from Obama’s appeasement and atonement.

The rest of the Republican lot, with the possible exception of U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (who is, unfortunately and in contradiction, deeply Christian), come across more or less as a bunch of moral weenies who could not be counted on to really pulverize America’s enemies, the way Donald Trump claims he would. Interestingly, Trump is the only major candidate running for the Republican nomination for President who is not deeply Christian. He pays lip-service to the anti-abortion and anti-gay marriage activists. But nobody that committed to Christianity, and its corresponding creed of selfless, sacrificial humility, can be counted on to directly confront the hard line, unyielding and ideologically driven totalitarianism of Islamic brutality any better than Obama presently does. For an example, consider how ineffective George W. Bush, a deeply fundamentalist Christian, was against the Islamic threat. Like Obama, he struck “surgically” and with rules of engagement imposed on soldiers that no civilians were to be killed. Imagine having fought World War II that way. America would today be ruled by Nazis and Japanese emperors.

The other emotional result of the ethical code of self-sacrifice is unearned guilt. Consider the repeated claims of Obama and others that “torture” of Islamic terrorist conspirators is “not who we are.” What he means by this is the self-sacrificial morality. Obama is saying that America’s job is to be morally bigger than its enemies, which means treating them kindly no matter how badly they treat us. If your standard of morality is self-sacrifice, then Obama is correct that refusing to torture your enemies (assuming survival requires it) is morally bigger. If soldiers are dealing with a known beheader, skyscraper blower-upper or anything equivalent, according to the morality of selflessness and self-sacrifice, we should nevertheless bow our heads and be kind and decent, in return.

That’s why they oppose torture of any kind, on principle. Whether torture is always (or ever) an effective means of securing the safety of innocent people is a debate for knowledgeable people to have. However, to rule out torture — which most likely is effective and necessary under certain conditions, however limited — on principle is to operate on the unearned guilt of a self-sacrificial approach to morality. That’s what Obama does unequivocally. Repeatedly, Donald Trump has made the comment that we should return to policies of torture, when and if necessary. This not only horrified the Obama leftist progressives; it also horrified some conservatives. This is revealing, because it shows how conservatives, grounded in the selfless, sacrificial morality of Jesus, face a terrible conflict and contradiction when it comes to matching the brutality of our Islamofascist enemies with the full level of force required to defeat them.

Morally, you cannot have it both ways. You cannot hold the view that selflessness is the ideal, and at the same time destroy someone who’s out to destroy you. If you consider self-sacrifice the ideal, then brutal, terrorizing killers are actually giving you what you want. Obama gets this. He’s not conflicted about it. That’s why he does not fight back against Islamic attacks, and why he actually makes it easier for Islamic groups like ISIS (who formed under his watch), and for openly and avowedly terrorist regimes like Iran to develop nuclear weapons without the burden of frozen assets and trade embargos.

Republicans are the conflicted ones. On the one hand, they want to defend America and defeat our enemies. On the other hand, they’re reminded on a daily basis by Obama and the other progressives that we are all our brothers’ keepers, that we are obliged to turn the other cheek, and that man’s central and only valid purpose for living is sacrifice of self to others. It’s a continuing conflict. Until or unless it’s resolved, we are all going down. If our bankrupt socialism doesn’t do it first, our Islamic invaders will.

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