Carmen Fowler LaBerge, my colleague and the president of the Presbyterian Lay Committee keeps a close watch on the changing landscape of religious freedom here in the United States and around the world. As such, she listens to those who are leading in the discussion, those who seek to increase awareness of where religious liberty is under greatest assault.
One leader in this conversation is her friend, the former Virginia Rep. Frank Wolf. Last week, Mr. Wolf and an organization he helps lead called The 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative, called on President Obama to call a spade a spade and define the Islamic State or ISIS as an agent of genocide.
I asked Ms. LaBerge to join in with the conversation that Mr. Wolf began last week and to pen a column for us, to explain why these things matter and what we can be doing about them ourselves. What follows is Ms. LaBerge’s reflection on these things.
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When we first declared war on terror after 9/11, the current major social media platforms did not even exist. Facebook launched in 2004, YouTube in 2005, and Twitter in 2006. Now, the Islamic State advances its message and recruits Americans and other people to its cause through these platforms. In February, the State Department admitted we are losing the war with ISIS on the social media front. But instead of fanning a counter-flame of a grassroots social media effort, the U.S. and her allies instead set up a command-and-control headquarter that doesn’t even yet have a website or a YouTube page.
While the U.S. and her allies work on drafting what they want to say and how they want to say it so as not to offend anyone, ISIS continues to spew and spread its murderous ideology around the globe — on free-speech platforms created and launched by Americans.
What we’ve got here is failure to communicate.
One side believes in a decent and orderly bureaucratic system, complete with checks, balances, and compliance with union regulations.
The ISIS cohort, however, believes in strict allegiance to a set of religious rules that govern individuals who are then free to act and post on social media without specific direct “orders.” It is a fully radicalized diaspora seeking to do murderous harm to any and all who do not see the world as they see it.
It’s time to openly acknowledge that what the U.S. administration likes to euphemistically call “a different narrative” is actually a religiously motivated ethnic cleansing of all those who do not follow the particular brand of Islam advocated by ISIS.
It is time to start speaking the truth and doing so plainly.