How Left and Right Are Both Blinded to Islamist Terrorism

THE NATIONAL INTEREST — From the Iranian hostage crisis in 1979 to the recent wave of terrorist attacks in Paris, San Bernardino, Brussels, Istanbul, Orlando and now Nice, the United States and much of the democratic world has experienced attacks committed by Islamist terrorists. And as we have seen so many times in recent years, politicians on both the left and the right are either unable or unwilling to conceptualize a legitimate response to the problem.

On the right, many Republicans have shown that they understand neither the U.S. Constitution nor American values. From Ben Carson arguing that a Muslim should not be president, to Jeb Bush claiming that only Syrian Christians should be allowed into the country, to presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump demanding a wholesale ban on Muslims crossing our borders, to Newt Gingrich demanding that Muslims in the United States be tested on whether they believe in sharia, many prominent Republicans seem unaware of—or unconcerned with—the very values and principles this country is supposed to represent.

Unfortunately, one would be just as hard-pressed to find a politician on the left who has spoken with consistent moral clarity and intelligence about this problem. What we see instead from the Obama administration and Hillary Clinton’s presidential election campaign is the belief that a carefully calibrated strategy of political correctness, cultural relativism and moral cowardice can protect us from militant Islamists. And in the absence of honesty about the nature of the problem, it is easy to see why average citizens would be confused and turn to demagogues for answers and leadership.

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