Lee Lasher makes many excellent points in his February 6 op-ed (“To end with terrorism, start with moral clarity”), but he contradicts himself when he begins by complaining about President Obama’s refusal to use the term “Islamic terrorism” and concludes by saying “Death, violence, domination, subjugation, intolerance – these are not Islam. They are not religion but rather the exact opposite.”
In fact, Mr. Lasher’s concluding statement is exactly correct. It is the key to eradicating this scourge. It is precisely what Egypt’s Al-Sisi, Jordan’s King Abdullah II – and President Obama – are saying.
What these leaders recognize is that victory cannot be achieved as long as these groups continue to find a fertile recruiting ground among young Muslims. The strategy, as Mr. Lasher suggests, is to work with Muslim leaders to drive a wedge between the true religion of Islam and the violent groups who perform atrocities and falsely claim they are acting in the name of Islam. The goal ultimately is to make it clear to vulnerable young Muslims that they have a choice. They can remain a Muslim, or they can be a violent extremist – but they can’t be both.
Refusing to use the words “Islamic” and even “jihadist,” replacing them with terms like “extremists” and “terrorists,” does not demonstrate a lack of moral clarity. It is a crucial part of the only strategy for winning this war.