Abalu: Actions speak louder in dealing with threats



In the aftermath of two bomb blasts near the finish line of Monday’s Boston Marathon, Boston police confirm three dead and several injured. Local hospitals report at least 141 patients are being treated for wounds. President Barack Obama said Monday he ordered the “full resources” of the federal government” to respond to the Boston bombing and called for increased security around the United States as necessary.

Omo Abalu

Recently on the news, I had been following the controversy over Obama not identifying ISIS as “Islamic extremists.” I began to question what people actually care about: Obama’s choice of words or his attempts at curbing terrorism.

The issue with ISIS is very grave and much attention is necessary in order to combat them and other terrorist groups. Acknowledging that the words we use significantly shape certain outcomes, I also feel that Americans should take into account Obama’s broader goals before criticizing his choice of words. 

In a press conference, Obama said he is not at war with Islam but with those who pervert the religion. Apparently, there is a problem with his explanation but there should not be; not everyone who practices Islam is a terrorist nor do they support terrorism.

A man was shown standing outside the building of the press conference holding a sign that read, “Just say it.” Is that really the concern? The sign should have read something like, “Just do something” or “What is the plan to defeat these terrorists?”

I feel people should be more concerned about the strategies the president is adopting to combat terrorism rather than making a fuss about a phrase he is evading, even after explaining his logical rationale.

I understand that Obama is being diplomatic with his answers but he is still focused on the most important part of the issue: how to deal with ISIS and eradicate terrorism worldwide. If he does not get the required support to carry this out, there is no moving forward with the matter.

Generalizations are risky in many instances. Fighting Islam as a whole is not going to solve the problem. Ask yourselves if this is a war against Muslims and the Islamic religion as a whole or against terrorists who falsely carry out attacks in the name of religion. Yes, this is extreme but not all followers of Islam support ISIS and other terrorist groups to begin with.

What about considering the perspective of other Muslims in order to understand the situation better and see how they feel about it through their own eyes?

I am friends with several Muslims who strongly feel ISIS is not representative of true Islam. There are also some parts of the Quran that have been explained to me, and I see where the perversion of the religion comes into play by these terrorist groups. Putting things into perspective and understanding the context behind certain outcomes provides us with a better understanding of underlying circumstances.

A while ago, the Islamic Society of North America (INSA), which is one of the largest Muslim organizations, released a statement that said, “ISIS’ actions have never been representative nor in accordance to the mainstream teachings of Islam. This act of murder cannot be justified according to the faith practiced by over 1.6 billion people.”

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani said Barack Obama does not love America because he [Giuliani] disagrees with Obama on fundamental issues. I feel Obama has good intentions for the U.S. but almost everything he does or says is highly scrutinized and one fault after the other usually arises.

We cannot devalue the entire Islamic religion because we have to keep in mind that not all Muslims agree with ISIS’ propaganda and their perspectives matter. In my opinion, it is like saying virtually all Muslims are terrorists, so we must fight Islam entirely and not focus too much on the terrorism or saying most Muslims are going to turn out to be terrorists anyway so why not label them all as such.

Labeling ISIS is crucial but we have to remember that a terrorist is a terrorist, whether he is Christian, Muslim, atheist, etc.

In situations like these, we have to be media literate and ask the right questions. Is the main focus Obama’s vocabulary choice or his acknowledgement that there is an issue that needs to be tackled with effective cooperation and impactful strategies? Isn’t it more important to deal with the issue of terrorism as a whole than to marginalize Islam as a religion? I believe it is. It is a war against ISIS and similar terrorist groups, not a war on religion or word choice.

This column has been updated to reflect the original views of the author.