President Obama – “Our success won’t depend on tough talk, or abandoning our values, or giving into fear”

From the Oval Office:

PRESIDENT OBAMA:

As a father to two young daughters who are the most precious part of my life, I know that we see ourselves with friends and coworkers at a holiday party like the one in San Bernardino. I know we see our kids in the faces of the young people killed in Paris. And I know that after so much war, many Americans are asking whether we are confronted by a cancer that has no immediate cure. […]

We will destroy ISIL and any other organization that tries to harm us. Our success won’t depend on tough talk, or abandoning our values, or giving into fear. That’s what groups like ISIL are hoping for. Instead, we will prevail by being strong and smart, resilient and relentless, and by drawing upon every aspect of American power. […]

We should not be drawn once more into a long and costly ground war in Iraq or Syria. That’s what groups like ISIL want. They know they can’t defeat us on the battlefield. ISIL fighters were part of the insurgency that we faced in Iraq. But they also know that if we occupy foreign lands, they can maintain insurgencies for years, killing thousands of our troops, draining our resources, and using our presence to draw new recruits. […]

Here’s what else we cannot do. We cannot turn against one another by letting this fight be defined as a war between America and Islam. That, too, is what groups like ISIL want. […]

… it is the responsibility of all Americans — of every faith — to reject discrimination. It is our responsibility to reject religious tests on who we admit into this country. It’s our responsibility to reject proposals that Muslim Americans should somehow be treated differently. Because when we travel down that road, we lose. […]

My fellow Americans, I am confident we will succeed in this mission because we are on the right side of history. We were founded upon a belief in human dignity — that no matter who you are, or where you come from, or what you look like, or what religion you practice, you are equal in the eyes of God and equal in the eyes of the law. […]

Let’s not forget that freedom is more powerful than fear; that we have always met challenges — whether war or depression, natural disasters or terrorist attacks — by coming together around our common ideals as one nation, as one people. So long as we stay true to that tradition, I have no doubt America will prevail.

Full transcript below.

Transcript: Address to the Nation by the President

Oval Office

8:01 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Good evening. On Wednesday, 14 Americans were killed as they came together to celebrate the holidays. They were taken from family and friends who loved them deeply. They were white and black; Latino and Asian; immigrants and American-born; moms and dads; daughters and sons. Each of them served their fellow citizens and all of them were part of our American family.

Tonight, I want to talk with you about this tragedy, the broader threat of terrorism, and how we can keep our country safe.

The FBI is still gathering the facts about what happened in San Bernardino, but here is what we know. The victims were brutally murdered and injured by one of their coworkers and his wife. So far, we have no evidence that the killers were directed by a terrorist organization overseas, or that they were part of a broader conspiracy here at home. But it is clear that the two of them had gone down the dark path of radicalization, embracing a perverted interpretation of Islam that calls for war against America and the West. They had stockpiled assault weapons, ammunition, and pipe bombs. So this was an act of terrorism, designed to kill innocent people.

Our nation has been at war with terrorists since al Qaeda killed nearly 3,000 Americans on 9/11. In the process, we’ve hardened our defenses — from airports to financial centers, to other critical infrastructure. Intelligence and law enforcement agencies have disrupted countless plots here and overseas, and worked around the clock to keep us safe. Our military and counterterrorism professionals have relentlessly pursued terrorist networks overseas — disrupting safe havens in several different countries, killing Osama bin Laden, and decimating al Qaeda’s leadership.

Over the last few years, however, the terrorist threat has evolved into a new phase. As we’ve become better at preventing complex, multifaceted attacks like 9/11, terrorists turned to less complicated acts of violence like the mass shootings that are all too common in our society. It is this type of attack that we saw at Fort Hood in 2009; in Chattanooga earlier this year; and now in San Bernardino. And as groups like ISIL grew stronger amidst the chaos of war in Iraq and then Syria, and as the Internet erases the distance between countries, we see growing efforts by terrorists to poison the minds of people like the Boston Marathon bombers and the San Bernardino killers.

For seven years, I’ve confronted this evolving threat each morning in my intelligence briefing. And since the day I took this office, I’ve authorized U.S. forces to take out terrorists abroad precisely because I know how real the danger is. As Commander-in-Chief, I have no greater responsibility than the security of the American people. As a father to two young daughters who are the most precious part of my life, I know that we see ourselves with friends and coworkers at a holiday party like the one in San Bernardino. I know we see our kids in the faces of the young people killed in Paris. And I know that after so much war, many Americans are asking whether we are confronted by a cancer that has no immediate cure.

Well, here’s what I want you to know: The threat from terrorism is real, but we will overcome it. We will destroy ISIL and any other organization that tries to harm us. Our success won’t depend on tough talk, or abandoning our values, or giving into fear. That’s what groups like ISIL are hoping for. Instead, we will prevail by being strong and smart, resilient and relentless, and by drawing upon every aspect of American power.

Here’s how. First, our military will continue to hunt down terrorist plotters in any country where it is necessary. In Iraq and Syria, airstrikes are taking out ISIL leaders, heavy weapons, oil tankers, infrastructure. And since the attacks in Paris, our closest allies — including France, Germany, and the United Kingdom — have ramped up their contributions to our military campaign, which will help us accelerate our effort to destroy ISIL.

Second, we will continue to provide training and equipment to tens of thousands of Iraqi and Syrian forces fighting ISIL on the ground so that we take away their safe havens. In both countries, we’re deploying Special Operations Forces who can accelerate that offensive. We’ve stepped up this effort since the attacks in Paris, and we’ll continue to invest more in approaches that are working on the ground.

Third, we’re working with friends and allies to stop ISIL’s operations — to disrupt plots, cut off their financing, and prevent them from recruiting more fighters. Since the attacks in Paris, we’ve surged intelligence-sharing with our European allies. We’re working with Turkey to seal its border with Syria. And we are cooperating with Muslim-majority countries — and with our Muslim communities here at home — to counter the vicious ideology that ISIL promotes online.

Fourth, with American leadership, the international community has begun to establish a process — and timeline — to pursue ceasefires and a political resolution to the Syrian war. Doing so will allow the Syrian people and every country, including our allies, but also countries like Russia, to focus on the common goal of destroying ISIL — a group that threatens us all.

This is our strategy to destroy ISIL. It is designed and supported by our military commanders and counterterrorism experts, together with 65 countries that have joined an American-led coalition. And we constantly examine our strategy to determine when additional steps are needed to get the job done. That’s why I’ve ordered the Departments of State and Homeland Security to review the visa *waiver program under which the female terrorist in San Bernardino originally came to this country. And that’s why I will urge high-tech and law enforcement leaders to make it harder for terrorists to use technology to escape from justice.

Now, here at home, we have to work together to address the challenge. There are several steps that Congress should take right away.

To begin with, Congress should act to make sure no one on a no-fly list is able to buy a gun. What could possibly be the argument for allowing a terrorist suspect to buy a semi-automatic weapon? This is a matter of national security.

We also need to make it harder for people to buy powerful assault weapons like the ones that were used in San Bernardino. I know there are some who reject any gun safety measures. But the fact is that our intelligence and law enforcement agencies — no matter how effective they are — cannot identify every would-be mass shooter, whether that individual is motivated by ISIL or some other hateful ideology. What we can do — and must do — is make it harder for them to kill.

Next, we should put in place stronger screening for those who come to America without a visa so that we can take a hard look at whether they’ve traveled to warzones. And we’re working with members of both parties in Congress to do exactly that.

Finally, if Congress believes, as I do, that we are at war with ISIL, it should go ahead and vote to authorize the continued use of military force against these terrorists. For over a year, I have ordered our military to take thousands of airstrikes against ISIL targets. I think it’s time for Congress to vote to demonstrate that the American people are united, and committed, to this fight.

My fellow Americans, these are the steps that we can take together to defeat the terrorist threat. Let me now say a word about what we should not do.

We should not be drawn once more into a long and costly ground war in Iraq or Syria. That’s what groups like ISIL want. They know they can’t defeat us on the battlefield. ISIL fighters were part of the insurgency that we faced in Iraq. But they also know that if we occupy foreign lands, they can maintain insurgencies for years, killing thousands of our troops, draining our resources, and using our presence to draw new recruits.

The strategy that we are using now — airstrikes, Special Forces, and working with local forces who are fighting to regain control of their own country — that is how we’ll achieve a more sustainable victory. And it won’t require us sending a new generation of Americans overseas to fight and die for another decade on foreign soil.

Here’s what else we cannot do. We cannot turn against one another by letting this fight be defined as a war between America and Islam. That, too, is what groups like ISIL want. ISIL does not speak for Islam. They are thugs and killers, part of a cult of death, and they account for a tiny fraction of more than a billion Muslims around the world — including millions of patriotic Muslim Americans who reject their hateful ideology. Moreover, the vast majority of terrorist victims around the world are Muslim. If we’re to succeed in defeating terrorism we must enlist Muslim communities as some of our strongest allies, rather than push them away through suspicion and hate.

That does not mean denying the fact that an extremist ideology has spread within some Muslim communities. This is a real problem that Muslims must confront, without excuse. Muslim leaders here and around the globe have to continue working with us to decisively and unequivocally reject the hateful ideology that groups like ISIL and al Qaeda promote; to speak out against not just acts of violence, but also those interpretations of Islam that are incompatible with the values of religious tolerance, mutual respect, and human dignity.

But just as it is the responsibility of Muslims around the world to root out misguided ideas that lead to radicalization, it is the responsibility of all Americans — of every faith — to reject discrimination. It is our responsibility to reject religious tests on who we admit into this country. It’s our responsibility to reject proposals that Muslim Americans should somehow be treated differently. Because when we travel down that road, we lose. That kind of divisiveness, that betrayal of our values plays into the hands of groups like ISIL. Muslim Americans are our friends and our neighbors, our co-workers, our sports heroes — and, yes, they are our men and women in uniform who are willing to die in defense of our country. We have to remember that.

My fellow Americans, I am confident we will succeed in this mission because we are on the right side of history. We were founded upon a belief in human dignity — that no matter who you are, or where you come from, or what you look like, or what religion you practice, you are equal in the eyes of God and equal in the eyes of the law.

Even in this political season, even as we properly debate what steps I and future Presidents must take to keep our country safe, let’s make sure we never forget what makes us exceptional. Let’s not forget that freedom is more powerful than fear; that we have always met challenges — whether war or depression, natural disasters or terrorist attacks — by coming together around our common ideals as one nation, as one people. So long as we stay true to that tradition, I have no doubt America will prevail.

Thank you. God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America.

END
8:14 P.M. EST
* White House added correction from as delivered. “White House spokesman Eric Schultz said Obama simply “misspoke,” and he has ordered a review of both the visa waiver program and the fiance visa, formally known as a K-1 visa.”

Bolding added.

~

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14 Comments

  1. President Obama:

    We should not be drawn once more into a long and costly ground war in Iraq or Syria. That’s what groups like ISIL want. They know they can’t defeat us on the battlefield. ISIL fighters were part of the insurgency that we faced in Iraq. But they also know that if we occupy foreign lands, they can maintain insurgencies for years, killing thousands of our troops, draining our resources, and using our presence to draw new recruits.

    The strategy that we are using now — airstrikes, Special Forces, and working with local forces who are fighting to regain control of their own country — that is how we’ll achieve a more sustainable victory. And it won’t require us sending a new generation of Americans overseas to fight and die for another decade on foreign soil.

    Here’s what else we cannot do. We cannot turn against one another by letting this fight be defined as a war between America and Islam. That, too, is what groups like ISIL want.

    An end to endless war.

  2. Selected Tweets from before, during and after the speech:

    TBogg @tbogg:
    “Obama should deliver the whole speech with one hand resting upon the bleached skull of Osama bin Laden. Maybe toss it from hand to hand”

    Ian Millhiser @imillhiser:
    “Before Obama speaks, a reminder to hawks that ISIS exists because we listened to you the last time you wanted to start a war.”

    Ian Millhiser @imillhiser:
    “Having lived through the insanity of the post-9/11 era, It is gratifying it is to have a president who refuses to be goaded by terrorists.”

    Eric Boehlert ‏@EricBoehlert
    “GOP: Obama must do everything to fight terror
    Dems: including banning ppl on terror watch list from buying guns?
    GOP: everything but that”

    LOLGOP ‏@LOLGOP
    “Hey, everyone, quiet down. The guys who didn’t prevent the biggest terror attack in U.S. history and wrecked Iraq have all the answers.”

    Ian Millhiser ‏@imillhiser
    “A reminder that if a Republican were in the White House, this speech would be about why we are going to war with some random nation.”

    John Fugelsang @JohnFugelsang
    “The ppl who once said we had to support W because ‘we’re at war & he’s commander-in-chief’ are now saying – well, you know. “

    The Rude Pundit ‏@rudepundit
    “Right-wing Twitter in ten minutes: “Waaah, he didn’t say ‘radical Islam.’ Waah! He hates America!” “

    BWD ‏@theonlyadult
    None of these “most Americans” will send their own kids.

    CNN @CNN “For the 1st time in a CNN/ORC poll, most Americans say the U.S. should send troops to Iraq or Syria to fight ISIS.”

    Jon Favreau @jonfavs:
    “He gave the speech to go around the media filter, because the media filter is garbage. That’s all.”

    • Here is that CNN/ORC poll:

      For the first time in CNN/ORC polling, a majority of Americans (53%) say the U.S. should send ground troops to Iraq or Syria to fight ISIS. At the same time, 6-in-10 disapprove of the President’s handling of terrorism and 68% say America’s military response to the terrorist group thus far has not been aggressive enough. […]

      On ground troops, 36% of leaned Democrats think the United States should send ground troops into combat operations against ISIS forces in Iraq or Syria, compared with 69% of leaned Republicans.

      I do not know a single one of those “36% of Democrats”.

  3. Some filtered and unfiltered media:

    WaPo wins the passive-aggressive prize: Obama’s Oval Office address reflects struggle to be heard

    In addressing the nation Sunday evening, President Obama turned to a venue he doesn’t like to discuss a subject he would rather avoid.

    JHC!! Have you got any real reporting in there, WaPo??

    Obama didn’t use the prime-time speech to outline any major shifts in the battle against the Islamic State, which he has repeatedly said will take years to complete and will not involve large commitments of U.S. ground troops. Nor did he propose any major new domestic security initiatives.

    Instead, he sought to calm a fearful American public, increasingly worried about the possibility of another terror attack and concerned about the Islamic State’s resilience after more than a year of airstrikes from the U.S. military.

    The absence of big new policy proposals from the president reflects the lack of any low-cost or tidy solutions to ease the concerns of the American people after a string of deadly attacks over the past month.

    That’s better.

    And about our “fix it now!” mentality: carpet bombing (turning the sand “radioactive”? Really, Ted Cruz?”), sending 100,000 troops to wander the desert looking for the “enemy”, killing terrorist’s families to “make them give up” … none of those will “fix it now” either. Grow up.

  4. You can’t fix the problems created by a century of Western meddling in the Middle East with a few well-timed airstrikes. This will take time and patience and a commitment by the people of the region, not foreign powers.

    Obama reiterates an ISIL policy unlikely to yield rapid results

    While he reassured Americans that the United States would “destroy ISIL,” President Barack Obama in a rare national address from the Oval Office Sunday night steered clear of setting any timetable for victory. A prudent choice, since the strategy he outlined is in essence the same one that was being pursued before last week’s San Bernardino massacre — and even before the Nov. 13 Paris rampage. […]

    With ISIL emerging as a major issue in the presidential campaign, Obama was always going to struggle to satisfy Republican critics — all the more so because, as former National Security Council spokesman P.J. Crowley told the BBC, neither Paris nor San Bernardino had changed the strategic perspective on ISIL of either the United States or its allies.

    That’s why even as he reiterated the existing policy as an effective and sustainable strategy to defeat ISIL, equally important were the perils Obama stressed the U.S. should avoid — the traps he implied were being laid for the U.S. by ISIL’s grotesque provocations. […]

    There was not a lot of red meat in Obama’s speech for those seeking a more bellicose style and policy. (Republican presidential hopeful Ted Cruz, for example, had two days earlier vowed to “carpet bomb ISIL into oblivion,” promising that America would in the process find out “if sand can glow in the dark.”) But the president made clear he sees the current strategy as the “smart” way to destroy ISIL while avoiding digging the U.S. into a deeper hole in the Middle East. […]

    While ISIL may indeed be a “common enemy” to all of the other internal and external players in the Syrian conflict, it is only the U.S. and its Western European partners that have made fighting the group their top priority in Syria (aside from indigenous forces whose domains ISIL has occupied). All of the other key players with considerable skin in the game — the Assad regime; the various rebel formations fighting to oust it; the Kurds; Turkey; the Gulf Arab states, Iran, Hezbollah and Russia — put greater priority one the strategic interests that has them at loggerheads with one another. It’s that discord that has allowed ISIL to emerge and prosper […]

    Many analysts believe that ISIL’s greatest weakness lies in the fact that, unlike Al Qaeda before it, it has sought to hold and govern territory — making its failures as a government, enhanced by the military efforts of its enemies, the key to its demise. That, and counteracting its effort to win recruits and supporters by polarizing Western societies and closing down space for coexistence. While Obama sought to align himself with that logic in the strategy he reiterated on Sunday, it doesn’t address the need felt by many Western leaders mindful of the rage of their constituents to be seen to be “doing something” — or in the more hawkish version, “making the sand glow” — in response to outrages like Paris and San Bernardino.

    A leader should not and must not govern based on the rage of his or her constituents. Unless you want endless war and a permanent state of anxiety … which is how the Republicans gain and hold onto power. We are better than that.

  5. TOTALLY unfiltered: Wonkette President Obama Addresses Terrorism, Asks Americans To Only Panic A Little, Please

    … we’re betting that maybe Wingnut America isn’t going to be especially satisfied by the speech because Obama will almost certainly fail once again to say the magic words “Radical Islamic Terrorism,” the only utterance which can possibly freeze ISIS and al Qaeda in their tracks and make them melt like the Wicked Witch of the Middle East. […]

    Considering that the entire Republican party thought 24 was a documentary on how to torture our way to victory, that doesn’t surprise us a heck of a lot. Let’s see if Barry has any ideas that match the sheer brilliance of killing terrorists’ families, waiting until they’re not looking then stealing their oil, or sending more Americans to die in the Middle East so no Americans will ever die anymore in America. Instead, he’ll probably explain that it’s a complex problem that requires a combination of military action, intelligence, diplomacy, and, for folks in The Homeland, a dedicated effort to hold our fudge, if that’s not too much trouble.

    Live blog from last night is at the link …

  6. One of Josh’s readers tried to make the case that President Obama should be less calm to connect with the populace (TPM: “Is More Required?”).

    Maybe “hair on fire” is considered a beacon of leadership in the Republican Party but it is not welcome to me. I want the level headed calm approach that President Obama employs.

    Also, I must have missed it but I did not see this as a “we need more gun control” speech. I saw the one reference to guns as a “we need better restrictions on what people on the terrorist watch list can do” including getting weapons of war.

    Josh does make this important point:

    Most counter-terrorism work is about placing lots of obstacles – most probably surmountable in and of themselves – to make attacks as difficult as possible, to create as many possible points of failure as possible.

    In light of that, making it more difficult for terrorists to get guns and visas are both excellent ideas. But he does a disservice to the president’s speech, and guarantees that the real message won’t be heard, when he says it was a speech about gun control.

  7. My neighbors are gearing up for war – oh they are not joining the military – it’s war on “terrists” who may be hiding behind a tree or bush.

    All I have to say is I’m glad we have an adult in the oval office.

    • I liked BWD’s comment when she saw the poll saying “most Americans” want to send in troops:

      None of these “most Americans” will send their own kids.

      Indeed. My guess is that they will enjoy the buzz they get from thinking that they will find and kill some “terrists” hiding in their shrubs. Sigh.

  8. Steve Benen, at The MaddowBlog

    Obama makes his case: ‘Freedom is more powerful than fear’

    Broadly speaking, this apparently wasn’t what the right and many pundits wanted to hear. It seems Obama’s critics see a president with a steady hand, showing grace under fire, and it leaves them unsatisfied. The president’s detractors demand more righteous fury, and less calm, resilient leadership.

    Slate’s Fred Kaplan added over night that the question is now “whether common sense and an awareness of limits still have a place in American politics.” If some of the initial reactions last night are any indication, the answer may prove to be discouraging.

    • I am not sure there is much common sense left in American politics. I appreciate the president saying that in this “political season” we “properly debate what steps I and future Presidents must take to keep our country safe” but JHC on a popsicle stick, I wish that we could have some adults debating and not the current contingent of craptastic Cruzian curmudgeons.

      Here is the link to Fred Kaplan’s piece (Found on the Internets):

  9. Attorney General Lynch held a presser this morning and announced a Pattern and Practices investigation into the Chicago Police Department.

    Transcript: via RecapD

    At the end of the press conference, a question was asked about terrorism and her reply was very reasoned and intelligent:

    REPORTER: LAST WEEK, AT THE MUSLIM ADVOCATES DINNER, YOU COMMENTED ON DOJ WORKING TOWARDS PROTECTING THOSE OF THE MUSLIM COMMUNITY AND ANTI-MUSLIM RHETORIC THAT MIGHT COME OUT OF THE ATTACK THAT JUST OCCURRED IN SAN BERNARDINO. CAN YOU ELABORATE ON MEASURES DOJ IS UNDERTAKING AT THE MOMENT TO LOOK AT THE RED FLAGS OF THAT?

    ATTORNEY GENERAL LYNCH
    : AS WE PROSECUTE DEEDS, NOT WORDS, WE HAVE A CONCERN WHEN WE SEE RHETORIC RISING AGAINST ANY PARTICULAR GROUP IN AMERICA. THAT IT MIGHT INSPIRE OTHERS TO VIOLENCE AND THAT VIOLENT ACTION IS WHAT WE WOULD HAVE TO DEAL WITH. I WOULD REFER TO HOW THE PRESIDENT DEALT WITH IT LAST NIGHT. AS WE CONSIDER THE WAYS IN WHICH WE KEEP AMERICAN INTERESTS SAFE HERE AND ABROAD, NOT TO INTERFERE AND LET FEAR ABANDON — LET FEAR MAKE US ABANDON OUR VALUES. WE FOCUS ON PROTECTING ALL OF THE PEOPLE. CONCERNS ARE THAT THE UNDERSTANDABLE FEARS OUT THERE AFTER SAN BERNARDINO, NOT LEAD PEOPLE TO TAKE THE LAW INTO THEIR OWN HANDS OR TAKE ACTIONS THAT WILL NOT BE JUSTIFIED. THANK YOU.

  10. Charlie Pierce weighs in:

    The president tried to sell the nation on calm, on maturity, and on a proportional response to the murderous phenomenon of Daesh and its acolytes. He made the not unremarkable point that it would be far easier to fight a “war” on terror here if we made it a little harder for the terrorists to arm themselves. He told Muslim countries to get with the program of policing the murderous bastards in their midst. Basically, he asked this country if it wouldn’t mind getting off the ceiling for a while.​ […]

    While it was another one of those moments in which I was glad that a trigger-happy adolescent was not in the White House anymore, it also was one of those moments in which the president seemed to be talking to some other, wiser, and more rational country.

    He reminds us that Marco Rubio is the GOP’s go-to guy on foreign policy for some perplexing reason. And the futility of stopping U.S. based terrorists from building their arsenals, whether they are inspired by the anti-abortion Army of God or the anti-West Daesh:

    The fact remains that there aren’t a whole lot of good ideas that are politically salable in an election year. It would have been helpful if it had been a little tougher for the San Bernardino shooters to build up their firepower, but any solution to that is dead on arrival in Congress.

  11. Analysis on why the pushback against Islamophobia is so crucial:

    ThinkProgress, Jack Jenkins Why It Matters That The President Rejected Islamophobia Last Night, And Why More Politicians Should

    Obama’s words weren’t just timely, they were almost certainly intentional; his speech was clearly targeted directly at those propagating the rising tide of anti-Muslim sentiment in the United States. Just two days before, Jerry Falwell Jr. delivered a chilling speech to Liberty University, an evangelical Christian college well known for producing and hosting some of America’s most influential conservative leaders. Speaking before a crowd of thousands, Falwell, who is president of the school, called for his students to begin carrying more guns, saying that if the victims of last week’s tragic San Bernardino shooting had been armed, they could have “end[ed] those Muslims before they walked in and killed them.” He reached for his own firearm as he spoke, which he claimed was holstered to his back.

    Other prominent conservatives — especially GOP presidential candidates — have also parroted anti-Muslim rhetoric over the past few months, with some ratcheting up the vitriol since the San Bernardino murders. Ben Carson abandoned his traditionally inclusive stance on other religions earlier this year by declaring that he could not support a Muslim president. Marco Rubio called for shutting down mosques and “any place…where radicals are being inspired.” Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush posited allowing Christian refugees from Syria into the country, but not Muslims. And just hours before President Obama’s speech, GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump — who has previously entertained creating a registry for those who claim Islamic faith — advocated for explicitly profiling of Muslim Americans.

    It turns out that Words Matter:

    When juxtaposed against this avalanche of anti-Islam sentiment, the president’s speech may seem like a simple gesture. Yet despite the claims of Huckabee and others, studies have shown that condemnations of Islamophobia from high-ranking politicians can actually have a powerful — and potentially life-saving — impact on average citizens, and can be crucial for maintaining domestic peace. […]

    … the president’s repudiation of Islamophobia isn’t just the repetition of a platitude about celebrating diversity. It’s also a necessary tool of good governance, geared towards saving the lives of Muslim Americans, non-Muslim Americans, and U.S. servicemen and women.

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