President Bush yesterday [November 13] chose to distance himself from those who have publicly suggested Islam is breeding hatred and terrorism. At the beginning of an Oval Office meeting with U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, the President said, "Some of the comments that have been uttered about Islam do not reflect the sentiments of my government or the sentiments of most Americans. Islam, as practiced by the vast majority of people, is a peaceful religion, a religion that respects others. Ours is a country based upon tolerance, Mr. Secretary General, and we respect the faith and we welcome people of all faiths in America." While the President did not mention Jerry Falwell, Franklin Graham or Pat Robertson by name, White House aides lost no time in letting the press know that he was referring to them. [Read more statements.]
The statement is mystifying and disappointing. Mystifying because there was no apparent reason for Bush to say anything one way or the other. He has called Islam a "religion of peace" ad nauseam. Disappointing because it contributes to American confusion about who has declared war on us and why.
Although some may be tired of hearing it, I must say it again. Terrorism is not an enemy; it is a method of warfare. After Pearl Harbor, there was no similar confusion - we knew we were not at war with "sneak attacks," but rather at war with the Japanese warlords and Nazi storm troopers. Who are we at war with today? The answer is clear -- radical Islamic fundamentalists. The only group happy about yesterday's Oval Office statement was the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) -- an infamous organization of apologists for Islamic extremism.
Finally, the statement demonstrated an unbecoming ingratitude. While the White House has banned "gloating," so as not to offend Democrats, this was an odd message to many of the Christian leaders who are exposing the radical Islamic agenda. They are also the very people who helped deliver the votes that gave the White House its congressional majority. Perhaps a "thank you" would have been more timely.