President Obama gave a speech on Sunday night finally reacting to the terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California. My middle daughter, a university freshman, texted me, “Obama’s speech is … basically saying nothing.” Which, perhaps is the best spin one can put on it. There were good points in what he said, such as finally admitting that the attack at Ft. Hood in 2009 was a terrorist incident rather than “workplace violence” and linking San Bernardino to the ongoing conflict against radical Islam (without calling it that). He recognized ISIS as an enemy and recognized the need to fight it. He also argued that we are currently addressing the problem and will simply continue doing what we’ve been doing: stay the course.
And I think it was in this that my daughter saw his speech as “saying nothing.” The President seems unwilling to take the issue as seriously as he should. He refuses to be extreme. He refuses to get angry. Of course, he’s not alone in that regard: the U.S. Congress seems equally unwilling to take it seriously. Rather than declare war, rather than consider overwhelming force, rather than letting out all the stops to solve the issue sooner rather than later, rather than thinking in terms of exterminating an infestation of evil—the president told us that we will continue in the current path, acting in the same way that we’ve been acting, and maybe, someday, we’ll fix the problem. Sometime in the future. A long time from now.
Then he spent a sizable part of his speech admonishing the American people not to take our frustration out on our Muslim neighbors. As if. Americans generally know the difference between passengers and hijackers. We live and work with Muslims. They’re our friends. We elected a President who happens to have a name that sounds Muslim. Islamaphobia is not the real problem here. Islamic extremism killing Americans is the real problem. We’d like a President who was serious about making it stop.
We were hoping to hear our President say “let’s roll.”
Instead, he just told us, “now play nice and stop worrying” and patted us on the head.