Despite the insistence of Republicans that the War on Terror is unidirectional, that it extends only outward, in the direction of Islam, it is omnidirectional, and extends inward as well as outward. The Western World, like the Middle East, is facing terror from within.
Fox News and Republican politicians would have you believe that Islam is waging a Jihad against America and Christianity. But Islam is actually engaged in a civil war, into which we have allowed ourselves to be drawn.
The real war is much broader in context: it is against violent extremists – any violent extremists. And those violent extremists are a global phenomenon, not limited to radical Islam. Yes, Islamic youth have been radicalized. So have Christian. Homegrown terror is a very real cause of concern in the Western world.
At the three-day-long CVE Summit, or Summit on Countering Violent Extremism, which begins today in Washington D.C., and includes representatives from over 60 countries, the Obama administration is showing that it recognizes this. The struggle against violent extremism is, as a senior administration official has stressed, “a long-term investment.”
The White House summit was previewed in a background conference call with senior administration officials, yesterday afternoon. It was suggested that for more information, listeners appeal to 2011’s Empowering Local Partners to Prevent Violent Extremism in the United States.
While the idea that “the government does not have all the answers in combatting violent extremism” will no doubt appeal to Republican sensibilities, the idea that there are terrorists other than the Islamic kind must rankle.
According to a senior administration official during yesterday’s call,
CVE efforts are premised on the central goal of preventing violent extremism and the extremists themselves and their supporters from inspiring, radicalizing, financing or recruiting individuals or groups in the United States from committing acts of violence.
And this prevention is not directed at the Muslim community in particular:
Just really quickly on the question of extremism in the United States. Certainly there is — and we remain particularly concerned about the possibility of groups like ISIL recruiting Americans to fight. But, at the same time, the message at the White House and the agenda itself is not entirely focused on ISIL itself. ISIL is the near-term threat that we all are focused on, but we also recognize in the United States there has been violent extremists that come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, and so the agenda for all three days is going to show a wide array of speakers and participants from all backgrounds who combat radicalization, violent extremism and terrorism in its many forms.
What is planned for Wednesday is particularly critical:
On Wednesday, the agenda is going to focus on our domestic efforts. Each of the cities will have an opportunity to do a presentation on what they’ve learned to date. But it’s going to be much broader. We’re going to be looking to voices from the private sector to voices from cities around the world, from NGOs and others who will all kind of bring a piece of the solution to the table.
Wednesday’s agenda is really the comprehensive “whole of nation” approach that we’re applying to the challenge. Again, this is not about government, especially the federal government. The federal government doesn’t have all the answers. This is about building a comprehensive network to fight back against violent extremism. And we are explicitly recognizing the role that civil society plays, the private sector plays, and that families, et cetera, can play in countering violent extremism.
One reporter pointed out that, “some critics [might] think that you’re avoiding the world “Muslim” as though extremists in the Islamic communities are the focus — or are they not the focus? That’s my question.”
The mainstream media does love its talking points and won’t readily relinquish them. But it was pointed out in response “that violent extremism is a broader trend, and that everyone will be approaching it through their own lens of their immediate concerns, but there are lessons to be learned across all forms of efforts to counter different types of violent extremism.”
Contra Fox News, it was further made clear that “the terrorist attacks in Paris and elsewhere are calling themselves Muslims and their warped interpretation of Islam is what motivated them to commit these acts.”
Which is a clear if unwelcome message to all listening that there are also those with a warped interpretation of Christianity who commit terroristic acts.
A Republican president would have turned this into an anti-Islamic summit. President Obama knows better. It is surely a disappointment to America’s ethnic nationalists that “we are not treating these people as part of a religion. We’re treating them as terrorists.”
Republicans love the word terrorist. They insist Democrats don’t use it. Democrats do. It’s just that Republicans don’t hear it unless it’s prefaced with the word “Islamic.”