Obama Defends Against Opponents Who Demand He Say ‘Radical Islam'

A forceful President Barack Obama lashed out Tuesday at critics, specifically presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump, and those who have accused him of being soft on terrorism and not using the term "radical Islam" when talking about the nightclub massacre in Orlando and other mass shootings.

"What exactly would using this label would accomplish? What exactly would it change?" Obama asked. "Would it make ISIL less committed to try to kill Americans? ... The answer is none of the above."

Similar to the president's critics, Amanda Rothschild, a research fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School, says ignoring terms like "radical Islam" could cause more deaths in the long run.

"It's important when you're in a war of ideas to be able to identify the threat appropriately," Rothschild said.

The Obama administration hasn't used the phrase because it believes it unfairly characterizes an entire religious group for the acts of a few.

"Calling a threat by a different name does not make it go away," said the president. "This is a political distraction."

But, like many critics, Rothschild says we must first define the enemy to combat the enemy.

"I think there's an element of victim blaming - by calling it radical Islam and facing the problem, we may promote further attacks," she said. "I think they're likely to hate us no matter how we act, and we need to be able to defeat the ideology."

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