America’s Common Interest
This article is from the archive of The New York Sun before the launch of its new website in 2022. The Sun has neither altered nor updated such articles but will seek to correct any errors, mis-categorizations or other problems introduced during transfer.
The slaughter at a gay nightclub at Orlando, by a gunman who authorities say had sworn allegiance to the Islamic State, underscores the fact that a victory in the war against Radical Islam is an American common interest. It may be too soon to tell the exact motives and affiliations of the killer and to what degree he was a lone wolf. But it’s not too soon so say that it doesn’t matter what one’s religion, sexual orientation, or race. Nor one’s politics. Christians, Muslims, and Jews, agnostics, and atheists, no matter their background, are natural allies in war against the radical brand of Islam that would countenance this crime.
The President made this essential point in his statement after the killings. “In the face of hate and violence, we will love one another,” he said. “We will not give in to fear or turn against each other. Instead, we will stand united as Americans to protect our people and defend our nation, and to take action against those who threaten us.” It would have been better had he named the radical Islamist ideology on behalf which this war is being levied against us, but it has long since become clear that Mr. Obama doesn’t want to be drawn on that point. Secretary Clinton appears to be set on a similar course.
Our own view is that this dodge is inapt, even counterproductive. It implies that to name our enemy exhibits a kind of bigotry. It casts a kind of doubt on our own national motives. The truth is that the only bigots here are those who adhere to the nihilist version of Islam and that it would be better for our leaders to mark this at every turn. Donald Trump is right in suggesting that we haven’t been smart enough or adequately vigilant; but at a time like this, that is self-evident. What needs to be done right now is to mark the commonality of interest of all parties in a victory in this war.
Maybe the President — and, we’d like to imagine, all of the candidates— will rise to the occasion. Mr. Obama certainly did so after the murders at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, where he delivered, only last year, the speech known as “Amazing Grace.” It was one of his finest moments. The murders in Charleston were not entangled in the war being levied against us by radical Islamists, but all the greater the opportunity for the President – and for that matter, the candidates — to go to Orlando and stand with the gay community there and talk about the interest in victory in this war that all Americans have in common.