The true 'narrative fight': It's not just ISIS
According to White House press secretary Josh Earnest, "When it comes to ISIL, we are in a fight – a narrative fight with them. A narrative battle." Earnest said this the day after two separate bombings occurred in New York and New Jersey, and an ISIS-linked Muslim went on a stabbing spree in Minnesota.
Obama's spokesman later elaborated:
What is important in the context of political debate is to remember ISIL is trying to assert a narrative, that they represent the religion of Islam in a war against the west and in a war against the United States. That is mythology. That is falsehood. That is not true. That is bankrupt ideology they are trying to wrap in the cloak of Islam.
This is a straw man argument. The real question isn't whether ISIS "represents" Islam, but whether ISIS is a byproduct of Islam. This question can easily be answered by looking not to ISIS, but to Islam. One can point to Islamic doctrines that unequivocally justify ISIS's behavior; one can point to the whole of Islamic history, nearly 14 centuries of ISIS precedents.
Or, if these two options are deemed too abstract, one can simply point to the fact that everyday Muslims all around the world are behaving just like ISIS.
For example, Muslims – of all races, nationalities, languages, and socio-political and economic circumstances, in Arab, African, Central and East Asian nations – claim the lion's share of Christian persecution; 41 of the 50 worst nations to be Christian in are Islamic. In these countries, Muslim individuals, mobs, clerics, politicians, police, soldiers, judges, even family members – none of whom are affiliated with ISIS (other than by religion) – abuse and sometimes slaughter Christians; abduct, enslave, and rape their women and children; ban or bomb churches; and kill blasphemers and apostates.
Anyone who doubts this can access my monthly "Muslim Persecution of Christians" reports and review the nonstop persecution and carnage committed by "everyday" Muslims – not ISIS – against Christians. Each monthly report (there are currently 60, stretching back to July 2011) contains dozens of atrocities, most of which if committed by Christians against Muslims would receive nonstop media coverage in America.
Or consider a Pew poll that found that, in 11 countries alone, at least 63 million and as many as 287 million Muslims support ISIS. Similarly, 81% of respondents to an Arabic-language Al Jazeera poll supported the Islamic State.
Do all these hundreds of millions of Muslims support the Islamic State because they've been suckered into its "narrative" – or even more silly, because we have – or do they support ISIS because it reflects the same supremacist Islam they know and practice, one that preaches hate and violence for all infidels, as America's good friends and allies, the governments of Saudi Arabia and Qatar – not ISIS – are on record proclaiming?
It is this phenomenon, that Muslims the world over – and not just this or that terrorist group that "has nothing to do with Islam" – are exhibiting hostility for and terrorizing non-Muslims, that the Obama administration and its mainstream media allies are committed to suppressing. Otherwise, the unthinkable could happen: people might connect the dots and understand that ISIS isn't mangling Islam, but rather, Islam is mangling the minds of Muslims all over the world.
This is why White House spokesman Josh Earnest can adamantly dismiss 14 centuries of Islamic history, doctrine, and behavior that mirrors ISIS: "That is mythology. That is falsehood. That is not true." This is why U.S. media coverage for one dead gorilla was six times greater than media coverage for 21 Christians whose heads were carved off for refusing to recant their faith.
The powers that be prefer that the debate – the "narrative" – be restricted to ISIS so that the group appears as an aberration to Islam. Acknowledging that untold millions of Muslims are engaged in similar behavior leads to a much more troubling narrative with vast implications.
Until this ugly truth is accepted, countless more innocents – including born Muslims who seek to break free from Islam – will continue to suffer.
Raymond Ibrahim, author of The Al Qaeda Reader and Crucified Again, is a Shillman fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and a Rosen fellow at the Middle East Forum.