The editorial is a depressing reminder that much of the mainstream conservative intelligentsia views international politics and security policy as a bothersome girth of dog to be wagged by the tail of cultural polemics. Thus, what is missing from the fight against homegrown Islamism is a certain manner of talking about it, a public insistence from the highest levels that this fight is per the Universal Morality from which emanates the American Exception (or is it vice versa?) a just and good fight. It is just, in itself, good, in itself. Not relatively good, not just intersubjectively good. We’re talking objectively Good. And homegrown Islamist extremism? Bad. Objectively. Come on, Barack, say it. Say it. Summon a prominent Muslim to a public setting and say it into his face. Now make him say it. Announce a War on Homegrown Islamism. Come on. Show us you’re man enough to speak categorically. Do it. Come on.
He goes on to explain why he finds this approach to be nonsense:
I figure the Obama Administration hasn’t taken or advised this path not because they can’t decide if homegrown Islamist terrorism is truly bad, but because they think it tactically misguided to traffic in Bush-style declamations, calls-to-arms, gauntlet-tossing, and fight-picking. They think King’s hearings could easily do more harm than good make American Muslims feel more isolated or embattled, give ammunition to radical imams, contribute to the self-glorifying persecution narratives of young and impressionable Muslims, raise the cost of cooperation for otherwise sympathetic Muslims. And since not even NR can point to any concrete benefits the hearings were supposed to have, beyond the self-regarding pleasures of being publicly foursquare and nonrelativist, I’m inclined to side with the Administration this time. Obama seems to be the one who realizes that, in this case anyway, it’s not all about him.