PoliticsPresident Obama's Answer to a Gold Star Mom's Question About "Radical Islam" Is Perfect
Thoughtful nuance can be a powerful thing and would be an awful thing for us to lose.
The 2016 election season has been a terrifying flirtation with a dark and upsetting potential future. It can often feel like Donald Trump has single-handedly brought down the level of discourse in this country by an order of magnitude. I mean it's hard not to feel that way, take this answer from this past week's first presidential debate:
So we had to get very very tough on cyber and cyber warfare. It is a
huge problem. I have a son—he’s ten years old. He has computers. He
is so good with these computers. It’s unbelievable. The security
aspect of cyber is very, very tough. And maybe, it's hardly doable.
But I will say, we are not doing the job we should be doing. But
that’s true throughout our whole governmental society. We have so many
things that we have to do better, Lester. And certainly cyber is one
Forget nuance. Someone making basic sense would be nice. Which brings us to President Barack Obama's military town hall last night. If this campaign has left you thirsty for intellectual nuance, consider this your oasis. Take the President's answer when a Gold Star mom challenged him on his refusal to use the term "radical islamic terror." (This has been a common line of attack against the President from Republicans, including Donald Trump.)
His answer is nuanced and thoughtful. It talks about the fact that painting with a broad brush validates a group that bastardizes the religion they claim to speak for. It talks about how words matter and using that term can literally make getting allies to help fight terrorists harder. And it talks about how it can lead to language that demonizes all Muslims, which we've seen so far in this election. Obama's answer basically dismantles the very premise of the question being asked, while still being respectful:
Well, first of all, I want to thank your son, obviously, for his
service. I spend a lot of time with gold star moms, as does Michelle,
and it's always one of the most profound things we do in office, is
just spending time with families and hearing about not just the
sacrifices, but also the incredible life and patriotism and talent
that these men and women live their lives with.
You'll recall a certain presidential candidate handled being challenged by a Gold Star family in a slightly different way. I'm going to miss President Obama.