I don't usually voice my disapproval of President Obama too much or too loudly. But in this case, I believe I have no choice. Here is a recent editorial about why I think his rhetoric about religion is dangerous.
The problem is that the concept of "faith", which could be defined as pretending to know what you don't, as reliable epistemology is inherently flawed. ISIS, or whatever you want to call them, has not strayed from Islamic apocalyptic theology, just as many Christians adhere to the very similar Christian version, usually less violently. It's similar because it came from the same iron age book, and was just altered a little to suit the desired outcome of different sects. Those who preach Christian Armageddon are the same ones who sponsor the National Prayer Breakfast which no US President dare shun. They're the ones who whispered in G.W. Bush's ear that he was "chosen by God" to play out the "Gog-Magog" role in invading Iraq, killing millions and destabilized the entire region. This tilled the soil from which ISIS grew.
Anyone here see a strategic advantage to not verbally attacking ISIS (or Al Qaida) as "Muslim" terrorists? The idea that these thugs are not practicing the religion seems foolish to me (and apparently everyone else on this thread). It may however improve the potential to recruit foreign governments who have to walk a fine line with their largely Muslim population. That the US is not speaking the truth may help to keep the more benign Muslims on the sideline. In that part of the world, "USA" is like waving a cape in front of a bull.
It may be that in this case, speaking the truth is easier than winning a war.
Even if this is true, it probably isn't a sustainable position, or strategy, to take.
Greg, I think Pat makes a really good and important point about diplomacy. If we want Muslim allies to join the war effort against ISIS, then not calling them Islamic terrorist would make some sense.
But here I want to briefly respond to Loren Miller, who considers PC speech a large part of the problem. I agree and disagree with this. The PC police have prohibited us from calling things what they are, because we are not supposed to offend. But the conservatives use a tricky rhetorical device in order to prohibit critique of religion--true religions would never do something horrible, their argument goes. Therefore, when they do something horrible, they conclude that it is not religious. To my mind, the real problem is language, and both the liberals and the conservatives have found ways to prevent us from critiquing religion. So, in response to both Greg and Pat, I think we need to promote nuance in our language use about religion. There are certainly many tolerant and humane believers. But there are plenty of believers who commit atrocities in the name of their faith. Given this fact, we should be able to say this, even if the PC crowd would like to shut us down. And we can't let the conservatives get off the hook by making a distinction between true religion and perverted versions of the faith. We need to make the case for nuance in the public sphere. This way we could critique but still be diplomatic.
That's, at least, what I think.