Think of it this way. A bird waddles into the room. It walks like a duck, it talks like a duck, it gives off every indication of duckness. If Josh Earnest says, “That’s not a mallard,” well, okay. You can have a reasonable conversation about which species the bird might be. But if Earnest says, “That is not a duck. It has no relation or similarity to anatine fowl in any way, shape or form, and any talk of ducks is illegitimate. . . . ”
Well, now we have a problem.
Such rhetorical extremism almost forces people into an argument about what a duck is. Likewise, by denying the role of radical Islam, they invite sane people everywhere to focus more, not less, on Islam.
There are, of course, many problems with this analogy. The most important one is that ducks cannot talk. They cannot say, “Look, I am a duck.”
Terrorists can talk. And they do. They also form organizations with magazines and websites and Twitter accounts. They issue manifestos. They recruit in mosques. When we capture them alive, they demand Qurans and pray five times a day, bowing toward Mecca.
You know who else can talk? Non-extremist Muslims. And millions of them routinely refer to the bad guys as radical Islamists and the like.
I could go on, but you get the point — if you don’t work at this White House.It seems hard for some of us to make the argument that certain behavior deliberated associated with a specific religion is a perversion of our idea of that religion, without resorting to the argument that it "has nothing to do with" the religion. "Has nothing to do with" is a far cry from "violates" or even "is an extreme interpretation of one aspect of the teaching of that religion that is so abhorrent it undermines the religion's core and defeats itself." But to get to those arguments you have to be willing to enter into discussions about moral beliefs that transcend ethnicity and diversity.