In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Religion’s Wicked Neighbor," David Brooks takes President Obama to task for "refus[ing] to use the word 'Islam' in reference to Islamist terrorism." Brooks writes:
"Obama is using language to engineer a reaction rather than to tell the truth, which is the definition of propaganda. Most world leaders talk about Islamist terror, but Obama apparently thinks that if he uses the phrase 'Islamic radicalism' the rest of us will be too dim to be able to distinguish between the terrorists and the millions of good-hearted Muslims who want only to live in fellowship and peace.
Worst of all, his decision to dance around an unpleasant reality is part of the enveloping cloud of political correctness that drives people to Donald Trump."
Brooks goes on to say that religious terrorists act on their own behalf, not on account of God:
"For the terrorist, a sense of humiliation is the primary reality. Terrorism emerges from a psychic state, not a spiritual one. This turns into a grievance, the belief that some external enemy is the cause of this injury, rather than some internal weakness.
. . . .
For the religious person it’s about God. For the terrorist, it’s about himself. When Omar Mateen was in the midst of his rampage, he was posting on Facebook and calling a TV station. His audience was us, not the Divine.
Omar Mateen wanted us to think he was martyring himself in the name of holiness. He was actually a sad loser obliterating himself for the sake of revenge."
Islamic terrorists are "sad losers" acting from a "psychic state, not a spiritual one"? It's about themselves? It's about revenge? Sorry, but this is a grotesque oversimplification.
Brooks would do well to read "The Age of Sacred Terror," a 2002 New York Times "Notable Book," by Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon. Benjamin and Simon write in relevant part:
"Religious violence is typically different from any other kind of warfare - for the simple reason that for a true believer, there is no compromise about the sacred. Or, to put it in a more monotheistic key: One God, one truth. Tolerance is not an intrinsic part of any of the monotheistic religions. For some believers, the outcome of a conflict cannot be ambiguous.
When the issues are sacred demands, there can be no bargaining. The believer cannot compromise on the will of God. Killing becomes an end in itself, rather than one instrument arrayed among nonlethal instruments in a bargaining process. Such believers want a lot of people dead and may not care whether a lot of people are watching, as long as God sees what has been done in His name."
My advice, David: Take a flight from genteel Manhattan to the wilds of Guantanamo, arrange interviews with a cross-section of the Islamic terrorists being held there, and decide for yourself whether these monsters were acting for "themselves." You're apt to experience an epiphany.