On Thursday, October 19, former president Barack Obama gave a campaign speech in support of Virginia gubernatorial candidate Ralph Northam. Bemoaning the way in which "our politics just seem so divided and so angry and so nasty," Obama lauded Lt. Gov. Northam as "someone who wants to bring people together."
As refreshing as such a trait would be, it has its limits. I have written before about how Northam has accepted over $6,000 in donations from figures linked to the SAAR Network, a web of organizations that funneled money to terrorist groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and possibly Al-Qaida itself. Northam was also one of several Virginia politicians to make pilgrimage to the All Dulles Area Muslim Society Center (ADAMS), a mosque that has deep connections to the SAAR Network, to show their opposition to the Trump "Muslim ban."
In his drive to "bring people together," Northam has failed to recognize and react against actual extremism. Some people should not be brought together at all — extremists need to be identified and avoided, and bad ideas should be rejected.
Some critics might argue that Northam, in his drive for inclusiveness, is well-intentioned but utterly naïve. As Carl Sagan (among others) has said: "If you're too open-minded, your brains will fall out."
Politicians' embrace of Islamists, however, goes beyond misplaced openness. The threat of Islamism is clear and obvious, even while the proper response to Islamism in a free society is a matter of legitimate dispute. To defend Islamists as being no different from everyday, moderate Muslims, as Northam and other politicians have done, takes willful blindness. Far from bringing us together, offering legitimacy to the extremism of Islamists will only succeed in ultimately driving us further apart.
During his Thursday speech Barack Obama said, "Instead of politics reflecting our values, we've got politics infecting our communities." True enough, but if he and other Democrats such as Northam truly want to defend American values, they should also fight back against Islamism — a totalitarian weaponizing of religion to achieve political power — as it threatens to "infect" our communities. They should start by distinguishing between true Muslim moderates, and the influence-peddling Islamists who infest the D.C. area.
Oren Litwin is the Islamist Money in Politics research fellow for Islamist Watch, a program of the Middle East Forum.