Democratic Congressman Stephen F. Lynch today criticized President Obama’s “politically correct” reluctance to use the term “Islamic extremists” — and said the U.S. should have struck back at ISIS with a heavy hand immediately after the Orlando massacre.
“I would have liked to have seen a pronounced effort right after Orlando. They called for this. They struck American citizens and we should have a show of force to send a message,” Lynch told Boston Herald Radio when asked if it’s time for Obama to officially declare war on ISIS beyond ongoing air strikes. “Unfortunately, because of their co-location with innocent civilians, using them as a shield, it’s very difficult for us to get at some of these insurgents without putting those civilians in great danger. That’s our challenge.”
Last week CIA director John Brennan testified before Congress that the intelligence agency had found no connection between the Orlando shooter and ISIS.
The shooter, U.S. citizen Omar Mateen, claimed in 911 calls during the June 12 massacre to be loyal to both ISIS and Hezbollah — which are sworn enemies of each other. He also described the Boston marathon bombers as his “homeboys.” Law enforcement authorities have said he had no known connection to the Tsarnaevs or any terrorist organization, and friends and former co-workers have described him as troubled and long prone to bizarre outbursts.
Today, Lynch said it’s time for Obama to refer to ISIS as “Islamic extremists.”
“They’re very serious about their mission, these extremists,” he said. “And we seem to be less committed. I would just say we need to get over it. It’s who they are. Let’s go get ’em. I think they would much more appreciate a forthright effort to defeat these people.”
He added: “I use that term. I haven’t got a problem with it. … You spend enough time in the Middle East — those people are not politically correct. They don’t get offended. Matter of fact, i think they’re surprised we’re dancing around with these terms. Call it like it is. It is somewhat disheartening we have this word game going on while we’re at war. Look, these are radical extremists, Islamists. There are a lot of people within the Muslim community who recognize them for that and are not afraid to use that term.”
The president, Lynch said, has been talking through “a political-correctness screen … It just frustrates me that we’re having that discussion rather than trying to deal with the underlying issue.”
Obama last week rejected calls by presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump to use the phrase “radical Islam,” calling it “a political talking point” and “not a strategy.”
“There’s no magic to the phrase radical Islam,” Obama said in his White House press conference. “It’s a political talking point. It’s not a strategy, and the reason I am careful about how I describe this threat has nothing to do with political correctness and everything to do with actually defeating extremism. …If we fall into the trap of painting all Muslims with a broad brush and imply that we are at war with an entire religion, then we are doing the terrorists’ work for them.”
“Look, I’m not the president’s speech writer,” Lynch said today. “His concern is that he might inflame or offend the moderate, law-abiding, wider Muslim community. I don’t think they’re going to be inflamed by someone using the term Islamic extremist. That’s a game we play in this country. The Middle East, they’re not hampered by this. They’re dealing with the real world.”
Lynch predicted that if former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the Democratic Party’s presumptive nominee, is elected president this fall, “My impression is she’ll be a lot tougher (in) how she’ll approach the issues there.”
Asked if it’s time for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders to throw in the towel and cede his fight for the Democratic nomination to Clinton, Lynch responded with a chuckle.
“One would hope,” the congressman said. “I know Bernie. He’s … different. He’s like a dog on a bone and I mean that in a good way. Maybe being so tenacious is a strength up to a point, but at some point you have to recognize the process and let it go.”
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