Holy War? Cable News Hosts Bicker Over Label

This week, Fox’s Bill O’Reilly said, “This is now a so-called holy war between radical jihadists and everyone else, including peaceful Muslims.” In the vast volumes that have been written about our biggest national security threat, it was far from the strongest language. In making this obvious observation, however, O’Reilly drew criticism from his competition over at MSNBC.

Responding to O’Reilly’s statement, Chris Hayes said that this was the culmination of Fox’s relentless criticism of the administration for failing to identify the enemy. He said that using the term “holy war” was playing into the hands of the Islamic State:

And that sort of rhetoric is, of course, exactly what ISIS wants. For if this is a holy war, they aren’t some murderous cult or some fringe Sunni militia. No, if it’s a holy war, then they are the representatives of Islam, which is why the president was careful not to cast the fight on those terms.

First of all, O’Reilly didn’t call it a holy war. He labeled it a so-called holy war. The phrase “so-called” is used, typically, when the speaker wants to distance himself from the nomenclature. Hayes is eaten up with liberalism, but he isn’t so stupid that he doesn’t realize this. This is just another excuse for the hapless wonks at MSNBC to throw stones at Numero Uno.

Beyond the unimportant cable news back-and-forth, though, it remains essential that we see these psychos for what they are. The administration is determined to separate them from their chosen religion. Determined to cast this as a parade of poverty-stricken, disaffected youths. Determined to cast the episodes of violence we’ve seen as “random.” This type of language is not used to build a Muslim coalition against the enemy; it is used to downplay the magnitude of what we’re up against. Obama can’t get away with calling ISIS the “JV squad” anymore, but his words betray a desire to minimize the threat.

If Chris Hayes, the rest of the liberal media, and Obama himself think that excusing Islam from the conversation is going to discourage young Muslims from joining ISIS, they are sadly mistaken. If anything, their insistence that ISIS does not represent the “true Islam” only emboldens these warriors. And attempting to ascribe to them motivations other than religious ones is to make a fatal error.

America doesn’t have to wrap itself in the cross to go fight the bad guys, but we do need to be honest about what we’re up against. Greed is not driving these terrorists. They are not using Islam as a front for more mundane criminal motivations. Islam – in whatever fashion they interpret it – is their motivation. They believe they are doing Allah’s holy work. True belief is the only thing that can explain their actions, many of which are so barbaric they defy comprehension. It is the only thing that can explain their relentless antagonism, as each act of violence draws them nearer to their own destruction.

In a way, Hayes is right. Calling it a holy war does fall in line with what ISIS wants. So does raining down on them the hellfire of a hundred nations. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it anyway.

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