Let's keep this simple. The way Barack Obama talks about Islamic terrorism is exactly the way he talks about white racism. Exactly. The only difference lies not in what Obama actually says, but in how his critics respond.
When Obama talks about racism in America, which he has learned to do only when necessary, he takes pains to separate the terrible and toxic ideology, racism, from the larger white culture. This makes sense. If you tell white people that they are inherently racist and that there's nothing they can do about that, you are telling them not to do anything about that. In fact, you are pushing them to be more racist. If racism is part of who they are, after all, why not embrace it?
Obama has to work against the white racists who are actively claiming that it's all of white culture that's under attack whenever someone protests racism, that complaining about racist practices is an attack on whites themselves. The white racists of the world want nothing better than to erase any difference between being white and being a racist.
Now, when Obama talks about Islamic terrorism, which is also an inevitable part of his job, he takes pains to separate the terrible and toxic ideology, terrorism, from the larger Islamic culture. This makes sense, unless you are completely stupid. If you tell Muslims that being terrorists is an inherent part of their religion, and that only terrorists are real Muslims, you are telling them to actively support terrorism. In fact, you are pushing them to become terrorists. If they can't be a good Muslim any other way, why not embrace it?
Obama has to work against the Islamist terrorists who are actively claiming that it's Islam itself that's under attack whenever the United States fights against terrorism, that fighting terrorism is an attack on their religion itself. The Islamist terrorists of the world want nothing better than to erase any difference between being a Muslim and being a terrorist.
In both cases, Obama is making the sane and sensible rhetorical move. He carves out a way for white people to be against racism, and for Muslims to be against terrorism. Doing it the other way would be incredibly self-defeating.
Let me repeat that: Incredibly. Self. Defeating.
Here's the major difference: when Obama speaks about racism, his critics on the right pretend that he DID NOT distinguish between being racist and being white. They claim he's attacking all white people.
When Obama speaks about terrorism, his critics on the right attack him for distinguishing between being a Muslim and being a terrorist. They claim that he's soft on terrorism because he won't accuse Islam itself of being a terrorist religion.
That's really the whole story. When Obama talks about racism, he is falsely accused of doing something counterproductive that he's not stupid enough to do. When Obama talks about terrorism, he is angrily denounced for not doing something counterproductive that he would be stupid to do. I wish I could still be amazed.
cross-posted from Dagblog