Columnist: Lessons from the Orlando shooting

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 20, 2016

“I can hear you; the rest of the world can hear you, and the people who knocked down these buildings will hear from all of us soon.” — President George W. Bush amid the ruins of the World Trade Center, Sept. 14, 2001.

“In the face of hate and violence, we will love one another.”

So spoke President Obama in the hours after the Islamic-induced slaughter at the Pulse, a club in Orlando that caters to LGBTs. He sounded more like a 1960s counterculturist than the leader of the free world.

Mr. Obama prefers to talk of guns rather than admit we are at war with radical Islamist terrorists’ intent on destroying our democratic values and gutting our Christian-Judeo culture by terrorizing and killing us. He searches for euphemisms to describe those who would kill us — anything to avoid the use of “Islamic” when discussing Islamic terrorists.

It is political correctness that prevents Mr. Obama from speaking honestly about the enemy we face. Xenophobia, he implies, is the natural condition of conservatives, as are Islamophobia and homophobia.

He is right that we should not blame all Muslims for the actions of a few thousand, but he is wrong in ignoring the role played by the Muslim religion in abetting the rise of of Jihadist terrorist organizations around the world and inciting “lone wolfs” to carry out what they believe to be instructions from their god.

The proper response to such killings, according to Mr. Obama, is better gun control. He points out that assault rifles were used in Newtown, Connecticut; Aurora, Colorado; as well as in Orlando. But he avoids the fact that France and Belgium have far stricter gun laws, yet those did not prevent attacks with similar weapons in Paris and Brussels.

He does not explain that explosives were used in Boston by the brothers Tsarnaev, or that a kitchen knife was used to behead Colleen Hufford in Moore, Oklahoma, or that a hatchet was the instrument in the attack on four police officers in Queens, or that a Jeep driven by Mohammad Raza Tehri was the weapon at UNC when nine students were injured. According to Mr. Obama, guns are the problem, not the people who pull the triggers, nor the culture of hatred that breeds and reveres violence.

After the attack, Donald Trump’s saying “I told you so!” was offensively self-congratulatory. His suggestion we temporarily ban all Muslim immigration was illusory; it elevated religious discrimination while doing nothing to ferret out Islamic terrorists already among us.

Keep in mind, Oram Mateen was born in New York to parents who had emigrated from Afghanistan. However, the left’s instinctive and immediate reactions to Mr. Trump’s comments were counterproductive.

We should profile people based on race, age, sex and looks. We should be more careful as to who we let in. We should be mindful that so-called mainstream Muslim organizations like CAIR — Council on American-Islamic Relations — and the Muslim Brotherhood have done little to suppress the deliberate inciting of young Muslim men.

We should be more vigilant of mosques, especially those known to be incubators of terrorism. For example, Imam Muhammad Musri, chairman of the Islamic Society of Central Florida and who stood with law enforcement officers in Orlando during their first press conference, is a member of a mosque that was used for a fund raiser that collected $55,000 for Hamas.

Given his associations, it was not a surprise that Mr. Musri said to Mr. Trump: “Shame on you for using this tragedy to divide us.” But, who is divisive? Mr. Trump, for the words he uses? Mr. Obama, for diverting attention from Islamic extremists to a culture of too many guns? Or is it the deadly actions taken by Islamic terrorists, no matter how they were radicalized?

Over the last several years, multiculturalism has replaced pluralism, with devastating results. The concept of pluralism recognizes diversity, but subordinates it for the good of the whole.

It allows us to maintain our myriad heritages, but also permits us to act together as Americans, regardless of backgrounds. Thomas Sowell recently noted that the commanders of American troops in both World Wars, Jack Pershing and Dwight Eisenhower, who led our troops against German Armies were of German heritage.

They may have been German-Americans, but when called to duty they were Americans. Identity politics, a consequence of multiculturalism and political expediency, is undermining that strength and polarizing the people.

From Mr. Obama’s narcissistic — and political — reckoning, the killing of Americans by radicalized Islamists should have been a thing of the past. Osama bin Laden was killed five years ago, and that should have been the end of it.

In a Washington, D.C. speech three years ago, Mr. Obama said that future terrorists’ activities would be “localized threats” in faraway places. Two weeks ago, at the Airforce Academy, he boasted how he had put aside 50 years of failed policies by using diplomacy, not war, to make the world safer. Yet the last five years have seen an increase in Jihadism at home and abroad.

According to the 2015 Global Terrorism Index, more than half of the estimated 140,000 victims of terrorism since 2000 have been killed in the past four years, with the vast majority murdered by radical Islamists. We have witnessed the emergence of ISIS from the ashes of Syria, Iraq and Libya.

There have been untold horrors committed by Boko Haram in North Africa. We have seen an emboldened Hamas in Palestine, a revitalized Hezbollah in Lebanon, and a resurgent and aggressive terror-sponsoring Iran.

We note the return of the Taliban in Afghanistan and the re-birth of al Qaeda in many parts of the Middle East. What is Mr. Obama smoking!

The president is a gifted rhetorician, but he has been less adept at fighting Islamic terrorism. In contradiction to his assertion in Colorado Springs, his policies have not worked.

Global incidences of terrorism have increased, in frequency and in intensity. There is no question, the job is difficult. And there are many reasons for the increase.

Besides the obvious that they despise all we stand for, one reason is the refusal by Mr. Obama to call the enemy by its name. Could we have fought the Germans in World War II, with the intensity we did, absent the terms “Hun” and “Nazi?”

Our enemies have always been equally unflattering when referring to us. Words have uses. A second reason for the rise in terrorism has been the spread of political correctness, which promotes multiculturalism at the expense of national unity and in contravention to our original national motto — E Pluribus Unum.

Political correctness has meant a decline in our Christian-Judeo culture, with its respect for and tolerance of others. We know that each of us is different. We know that we come from different places. We know we are of different colors, religions, shapes and sizes. We know we have different abilities and aspirations. We know we are not perfect, but we also know we are Americans.

We should honor and respect our individual heritages, but recognize that which unifies us — the spirit that is America. It is that, that has been lost, and unless we re-kindle a belief in our national identity, we will continue to split ourselves into millions of dissonant parts, until putting us back together becomes too monumental a task.

Our fight is not only with the “lone wolf” who kills innocent people; more importantly, it is with a culture that breeds hatred and contempt — a culture that is homophobic, misogynistic and intolerant of all who do not comply with its laws.

It is especially deadly to Jews and Christians. Radical Islamists cannot abide a culture that permits freedom of religious expression, treats women as equals and respects minorities, including gays.

It makes no difference to the dead — and it should not to us — whether Omar Mateen was acting alone or under direction from ISIS leadership. He was obviously mentally unbalanced, and we know he was inspired by radical elements of Islam.

Just admit it, and let’s work harder to prevent recurrences.

By Sydney M. Williams

Contributing columnist

Sydney Williams, a retired stock broker, writes about politics, the economy, global affairs, education and climate, among other topics. He may be reached at