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Say what? Let’s call Islamic terrorism what it is

By U. S. Representative Martha Roby (R-AL2)

Back in September, I raised a few eyebrows in a national opinion piece for Defense One by referring to the Islamic State, or ISIS, as a “bastardized, barbaric form of Islam” that “will not stop unless they are ended.”

This may have come off harsh, but it was the truth. Since then, these terrorists have acted only to further prove that point.  That’s why it is disturbing to see the Obama Administration refuse to acknowledge the radical Islamic terrorism threat for what it is.

Over the last few weeks, officials from the White House to the State Department, and even the president himself, have repeatedly stumbled over how they speak about terrorism.

First, in his National Prayer Breakfast speech, President Obama reached to draw moral equivalence between modern Islamic terrorists and Christian crusaders.

Then, in a video conversation with, President Obama described the victims of the recent Paris terrorist shootings as “random,” apparently dismissing the fact that Islamic terrorists targeted Jewish people in a kosher deli. When given the chance to clarify what could have been the president’s simple poor word choice, the White House press secretary doubled down on the “random” assertion, going out of his way not to attribute the attack to Islamic terrorism.

Finally, State Department spokesman Marie Harf told Chris Matthews on “Hardball” that, when it comes to fighting ISIS, “we cannot win this war by killing them,” but rather by making sure their countries have more job opportunities. In trying to make her point, Harf asked, “What makes these 17-year-old kids pick up an AK-47 instead of trying to start a business?”

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I can answer that: the spread of radical Islamic ideology that has been turning people toward terrorism for centuries.

The Obama Administration’s recent effort to dismiss radical Islamic terrorism as “violent extremism,” not based in religion, is disappointing and dangerous.

Yes, it is violent. And, it is extreme. But why not call it what it really is? Why this effort to contort around a basic fact and to absurdly assign moral equivalence to Christianity?

The White House says that using the words “Islamic terrorism” fuels the flames of groups like al Qaeda and ISIS. I say radical Islamic ideology fuels the flames of Islamic terrorism, and refusing to acknowledge it doesn’t get us any closer to defeating them.

It’s time for more straight talk and less “nuanced” talking points from our Commander-in-Chief and his advisers.


Martha Roby represents Alabama’s 2nd Congressional District. She is currently serving her third term.

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