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How Obama cooks the terrorism numbers

Wesley Pruden

By Wesley Pruden

Published Nov. 24, 2015

How Obama cooks the terrorism numbers

Barack Obama has given an eloquent testimony to a Christian faith, but his sympathies are always with Islam. He insisted from Asia that "99.9 percent of Muslims worldwide reject terrorism, and that's good news, if true. But clearly it is not.

It is true that in the wake of the attacks in Paris an unusual number of Muslims have decried the terrorism that threatens us all. Even CAIR, the Muslim advocacy outfit that decries as a hate crime every hard look a Muslim gets anywhere, condemns the assault on Paris.

It's right to put radical Islamic terror in perspective. Muslims have fought in every American war, and 3,500 Muslims serve in the nation's military services today. Muslim soldiers are buried with medals and honors at Arlington National Cemetery.

But a president who says 99.9 percent of Muslims reject terrorism has clearly been listening too long to the evening call to Muslim prayer, which he famously called "the prettiest sound on earth." (It's better than rap, but not as pretty as Dvorak's "New World Symphony," reprising the folk music of America.)

Pew Research, which is no right-wing echo chamber, polls extensively on what Muslims believe about current events, and found that only 57 percent of Muslims in nine predominantly Islamic countries hold an unfavorable opinion of al-Qaeda. Mathmeticians, even math majors, generally regard 57 as less than 99.9.

One in 4 Muslims has a favorable opinion of Hezbollah, from whom ISIS learned certain torture techniques used on American captives, such as William Buckley, the CIA station chief in Beirut whom the CIA concluded was reduced to "close to a gibbering wretch." Once months of torture finally killed him, his body was dumped on the side of a dirt road.

Pew finds that a third, or 33 percent of Muslims support Hamas, whose soldiers once went into a hotel in the Israeli city of Netanya and burst into a room where a group of elderly Jews, including several Holocaust survivors and some in wheelchairs, were having a Passover supper. One of the Hamas heroes detonated his suicide vest, killing 30 and wounding 140 others. The Palestinian Authority later named a soccer tournament to honor the suicide bomber. The math major could tell Mr. Obama that a third, or 33, is less than 99.9.

The president entertains President Francois Hollande of France at the White House on Tuesday to talk about how to strengthen the international coalition to fight ISIS, and he probably should not try out his 99.9 number on the French president. What Mr. Obama does (or doesn't do) speaks so loud it's hard to hear what he says.

"The American people are right to be concerned," he said on Sunday in Malaysia. But there's a difference, he said, between vigilance and surrendering to fears "that lead us abandon our values, to abandon how we live." True enough, but neither should Mr. Obama's naïve sentiment persuade anyone to abandon common sense or his life in a foolish surrender to mawkish clichés.

Mr. Obama's pleas not to let the terrorists win — obviously meant to needle those who want to improve the vetting of migrants from Syria — inevitably recall similar presidential appeals in the wake of the 9/11 destruction of the World Trade Center.

"Our nation was horrified, but it's not going to be terrorized," George W. Bush declared five days after those attacks. "We're a nation that can't be cowed by evil-doers." Mr. Obama reprised the words of the man he usually blames for his own manifold mistakes, observing that the United States had taken hard licks before and survived, and now Times Square in Manhattan is aswarm with people again, "rightly so."

"I was very proud of the fact that the fundamental nature of America and how we treated each other did not change," he said. So far, so good. But he couldn't resist a poorly disguised cheap shot at his predecessor. "We've made some bad decisions subsequent to that attack in part based on fear, and that's why we have to be cautious."

That sympathizers and supporters of terrorism regard it as a legitimate weapon of war make up a minority of Muslims is no doubt correct. The majority want what the majority of Christians, Jews and those of no faith want, a good life for themselves and their children. But the minority is large and consequential, comprising a number far larger than Barack Obama's one tenth of one percent. The president serves no good purpose distorting the facts.

If Muslims shunned the terrorists by the percentages that Christians shun the Ku Klux Klan, observes Josh Gelernter in the National Review, "the president would have a point." But they don't, and he doesn't.

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JWR contributor Wesley Pruden is editor emeritus of The Washington Times.

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