It might not seem obvious, but the Obama terrorism policy has been run by an idea.
The idea tells us that the fault for Islam terrorism does not lie with the terrorists. It lies with the racism and Islamophobia of the victims. As Jeremiah Wright famously suggested, America was responsible for the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. It got what was coming to it. Some would call it justice.
To the Obama administration Muslims are rightly outraged at being disrespected by many people in the world. Their outrage is so righteous that they must try to restore their honor by committing terrorist acts.
In order to put an end to terrorism, the administration has chosen to remove all references to Muslim terrorism, whether it involves the massacre perpetrated by Major Nidal Hasan or the attack on the Benghazi consulate. Associating Islam with terrorism is offensive, and, since offensive language is the root of the terrorism problem, eliminating it will eventually eliminate terrorism.
No one should have been surprised when Jonathan Karl of ABC News reported on the extensive bowdlerization of administration talking points about Benghazi.
Unfortunately, the government does not exercise absolute control over the marketplace of ideas. So, despite the best efforts of the Obama administration, a random Islamophobe might well do or say something that offends Muslims to the point that they feel obliged to defend the honor of their religion by killing a few Americans.
In that case, the fault lies with the instigator, not with the perpetrator. As Hillary Clinton famously said to the mother of one of the murdered Navy SEALs, the administration would stop at nothing to punish the person responsible: the filmmaker.
Peggy Noonan described what happens when this theory was put into practice in Benghazi:
Because of that, it [The White House] could not tolerate the idea that the armed assault on the Benghazi consulate was a premeditated act of Islamist terrorism. That would carry a whole world of unhappy political implications, and demand certain actions. And the American presidential election was only eight weeks away. They wanted this problem to go away, or at least to bleed the meaning from it.
Because the White House could not tolerate the idea of Benghazi as a planned and deliberate terrorist assault, it had to be made into something else. So they said it was a spontaneous street demonstration over an anti-Muhammad YouTube video made by a nutty California con man. After all, that had happened earlier in the day, in Cairo. It sounded plausible. And maybe they believed it at first. Maybe they wanted to believe it. But the message was out: Provocative video plus primitive street Arabs equals sparky explosion. Not our fault. Blame the producer! Who was promptly jailed.
If what happened in Benghazi was not a planned and prolonged terrorist assault, if it was merely a street demonstration gone bad, the administration could not take military action to protect Americans there. You take military action in response to a planned and coordinated attack by armed combatants. You don't if it's an essentially meaningless street demonstration that came and went.
By Noonan’s analysis, the Obama administration was conducting policy in a fictional world. In its alternative world, what happened in Benghazi was a spontaneous protest provoked by an offensive video. You do not send in commandos to gun down righteous protesters.
Mark Steyn makes the same point:
Throughout the all-night firefight in Benghazi, Washington’s priority seems to have been to do everything possible to deny that what was actually happening was happening at all. To send “soldiers” on a “mission” to “fight” the “enemy” was at odds with the entire Obama narrative of the Arab Spring and the broader post-Bush Muslim world. And so the entire U.S. military was stood down in support of the commander-in-chief’s fiction.
If the world does not correspond to your vision, you act as though it does. Your job, if you work for the Obama administration is to change the world by changing the fictional lens through which we see it.
Of course, this looks suspiciously like government by propaganda. Naturally, sophisticated academic thought has offered a theoretical rationalization for it.
Many of the smartest academics in the best universities have convinced themselves that reality is just another fictional world, one that has been constructed by the powerful to exploit the weak.
When put upon to explain why so many people accept that reality is real, they explain that all of these people have been brainwashed by the ruling powers.
When lots of people say it’s real, more and more people act as though it’s real. Then, it becomes real.
By this theory, what we inaccurately call Islamic terrorism is really just a spontaneous and understandable expression of Muslim outrage. It represents a moral reckoning for insults, injuries and slights dating back to the Crusades. It might be a crime, but it does not reflect on individual Muslims.
Admittedly, something happened in Benghazi. Yet, the Obama administration did everything in its power to change the meaning of what happened. It has been acting as though, by changing the meaning it would be changing the event.
If you listen to those who are supporting the Obama administration’s handling of the Benghazi attack you will come away with the clear impression that nothing happened. Or better, that nothing of any consequence happened.
At the limit, the administration will admit that what happened was a crime. But, if the American ambassador was murdered by criminal thugs, culpability and responsibility is limited to the perpetrators.
Guilt for a crime does not extend beyond the person of the criminal. When a man is found guilty of a crime, he and only he is sent to prison.
If the attack on the Benghazi consulate was a terrorist act that means that it was perpetrated in the name of Islam and that it was intended to reflect on Islam. In particular, it was meant to restore Muslim honor.
Sad to say, but at that point the act is linked with Islam. Responsibility is shared. It extends to other Muslims, requiring them to denounce it vigorously and to declare that they feel shame, not pride for what has been committed in the name of their religion.
But if, in the fiction written by the Obama administration what happened in Benghazi was merely the act of a deranged criminal, no Muslim need feel any need to apologize. Besides, uttering the name of Islam in the same sentence as terrorism will stoke the fires of Islamophobia. Since Islamophobia is the problem, we surely don’t want to do that!
Keep in mind Hillary Clinton’s pathetic outburst during her own Congressional testimony:
Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night and decided they’d go kill some Americans. What difference – at this point, what difference does it make?
If the ultimate truth about any murder is that the victim is dead, why would anyone investigate any crime? Why do we have a criminal justice system at all?
According to this Clintonian logic, when a crime is committed we should just forget about it. Presumably, the same rule applies to her husband's many dalliances.
Of course, if an investigation shows that the Benghazi attack was really terrorism this has a direct implication for administration policy.
We must point out that Clinton does not include the possibility that the attack was a terrorist act. She says that it might have been a protest (over a Youtube video) or a few guys out on a walk. If it was terrorism, it was neither.
It’s interesting to watch a master of obfuscation spin out a fiction.