Tom McLaughlin

A former history teacher, Tom is a columnist who lives in Lovell, Maine. His column is published in Maine and New Hampshire newspapers and on numerous web sites. Email: tomthemick@gmail.com

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Essential Questions


“Why do radical Muslims want to kill us?”

For the last ten years of my teaching career, that was the essential question I wanted students to think about from day one in September. As the educational jargon goes: “Essential questions foster the kinds of inquiries, discussions, and reflections that help learners find meaning in their learning…” When my last principal required us all to write up every unit of instruction we used and title each with its essential question, that’s what I chose for unit one.
It’s also the question President Obama has been avoiding his entire two terms as commander-in-chief. I had good reasons for focusing on that question, and President Obama has his reasons for dodging it. I know what my reasons were. When I think of what President Obama’s reasons might be, it scares me. He’s our commander-in-chief. His primary responsibility is keeping America safe, but fewer Americans believe he knows how to do that — especially when he won’t even name our enemy.
My essential question assumed the obvious: radical Muslims wanted to kill us and were doing so by the thousands ever since 1979 when the Islamic Republic of Iran declared war on the United States in 1979. President Obama ignored our state of war when he authorized Secretary of State John Kerry to negotiate a nuclear arms treaty with one of our biggest enemies. We’re not at war with Islam, insists President Obama. So did his predecessor, President Bush, but Iran, the most powerful country in the Islamic world, has long been in open war against us.
Radical Muslims are those who live their lives in adherence to Quranic verses such as Quran (8:12) - “I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them” and Quran (5:33) - “The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His messenger and strive to make mischief in the land is only this, that they should be murdered or crucified…” and more than a hundred others. It doesn’t matter whether they call themselves Shia, Sunni, Boko Haram, al Shabab, Hezbollah, al Qaida, ISIS, or whatever. They all pledge to make the world Muslim and kill or enslave anyone who resists.
It doesn’t matter whether they’re Africans, Asians, Europeans, or Americans either. They’re all seduced by fundamental Islamic theology. What do they all have in common? They’re Muslims. That’s the simple fact President Obama and every Democrat who wants to succeed him avoids with their ubiquitous “religion of peace” rhetoric. Another essential question is: when Obama was campaigning for reelection in 2012 claiming just before the Benghazi attack that al Qaida was “on the run,” was he a liar or a fool? When telling George Stephenopoulos the morning of the Paris attacks that ISIS was contained? Same question. When he told America a week before the San Bernardino massacre that “there was no specific or credible threat to America during the holiday season,”? Same question.
I began teaching about our state of war a few years after the Islamic Republic of Iran declared it in 1979. During the 1980s the war got little attention. It got more during the 1990s when suicide bombers were blowing themselves up in Israeli busses and restaurants. My job was to teach students what motivated them. They had to learn terms like: jihad, sharia, intifada, Quran, etc. After September 11, 2001 our war came front and center. After that my lessons began on the first day of school when our media was hyper-focused on observing anniversaries of the attack, year after year.
We all know where we were on that fateful Tuesday morning. I was writing the word “jihad” on the blackboard during my first class of the day when the principal came to my door to tell me about the attack. There had been another suicide bombing in Israel the day before and I was asking my students why radical Muslims wanted to kill Jews. After 9-11, my essential question naturally morphed into “Why do radical Muslims want to kill us?”
Our leaders describe most Muslims as moderates. In response, President Obama’s ally, Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan said: “These descriptions are very ugly, it is offensive and an insult to our religion. There is no moderate or immoderate Islam. Islam is Islam and that’s it.”
Many of my former students went into combat against radical Islam in its various forms, but it continues to grow. So does the myopia of our president who tells America that climate change is a much greater threat. According to the UK’s Financial Times President Obama said the recent slaughter of over a hundred Parisians was a “setback,” and the Paris climate change talks immediately following it were his “rebuke” to the terrorists.
I hear our enemies laughing. Do you?

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27 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

At first I tried to rationalize Obama's refusal to label terrorists as Muslims as a way to not inspire hate in non-radicalized Muslims.

However, when he labeled the Crusaders as Christians without hesitation, it really confirmed in me that his reasons are probably not good.

http://www.cnn.com/2015/02/06/politics/obama-isis-crusades-comparison/

12/8/15, 11:49 AM  
Anonymous Brian said...

Tom: Obama won’t even name our enemy.

Obama: “Our nation has been at war with terrorists since al Qaeda killed nearly 3,000 Americans on 9/11. We will destroy ISIL and any other organization that tries to harm us.. They are thugs and killers, part of a cult of death who have gone down the dark path of radicalization”
He added that there is “no denying the fact that an extremist ideology has spread within some Muslim communities. This is a real problem that Muslims must confront, without excuse.

He then went on to state some FACTS that Tom will struggle with, that.”they account for a tiny fraction of more than a billion Muslims around the world”, and that terrorist groups like ISIL are certainly hoping that the war on terrorism gets painted more broadly as a war between America and Islam because that would be a great recruiting tool for them.

12/8/15, 12:28 PM  
Blogger adab said...

Bingo, Tom.
Thanks for your clarity and frankness.

12/8/15, 12:49 PM  
Blogger Tom McLaughlin said...

When US Attorney Andrew McCarthy got the case to prosecute the Blind Sheik who masterminded the 1992 World Trade Center bombing, he read the Koran. It shocked him to learn that the sheik was speaking the truth when he said he was following what Mohammed taught. So it ISIS, so is Boko Haram, so is al Qaida, and all the rest.

ISIS is not a perversion of Islam as President Obama said in his speech to the nation Sunday night. iSIS is fulfilling Islam's dictates as spelled out in the Quran. Americans don't like to look at that Brian, and I didn't want to either, but we must. It's the truth. Read it.

Until Islam has a reformation, it is indeed the enemy. Sharia Law and western democracy are incompatible. Carson is right about that.

12/8/15, 2:28 PM  
Anonymous Brian said...

But Tom, what if Christianity were judged by the orders given in the Old Testament? In terms of ordering violence and bloodshed, any simplistic claim about the superiority of the Bible to the Koran would be wildly wrong. The Bible contains far more verses praising or urging bloodshed than does the Koran, and biblical violence is often far more extreme, and marked by more indiscriminate savagery. The Koran often urges believers to fight, yet it also commands that enemies be shown mercy when they surrender. Some frightful portions of the Bible, by contrast, go much further in ordering the total extermination of enemies, of whole families and races - of men, women, and children, and even their livestock, with no quarter granted.

Commands to kill, to commit ethnic cleansing, to institutionalize segregation, to hate and fear other races and religions . . . all are in the Bible, and occur with a far greater frequency than in the Koran. At every stage, we can argue what the passages in question mean, and certainly whether they should have any relevance for later ages. But the fact remains that the words are there, and their inclusion in the scripture means that they are, literally, canonized, no less than in the Muslim scripture.

For full disclosure, I am not a fan of either book.

12/8/15, 3:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When it comes to "naming the enemy" would you like people like Timothy McVeigh, all those that commit terrorism against abortion clinics and planned parentfood centers be labeled "Christian Terrorists"?

12/8/15, 3:39 PM  
Blogger Tom McLaughlin said...

The New Testament is a story of reformation. It's about the New Covenant between God and man ushered in by Jesus Christ. Everything you cited is in the Old Testament.

Still, Christianity had to undergo many reformations to deal with many heresies -- figure out what were genuine Christian teachings and what were not. Islam has no equivalent and it's overdue. Some are calling for it now.

Since Jesus, there have been Inquisitions, but Christianity was the catalyst for outlawing slavery in the entire western world, but it's still practiced under Islam.

Over 2000 years, Christianity hasn't spread itself at the point of a sword. When Benedict XVI pointed out that Islam did and does, he was condemned to death. Islam has done this consistently for 1400 years, except for one brief period during the 20th century that has only recently ended. ISIS is the new caliphate bent on renewing that violent evangelism.

Unreformed Islam is the enemy Brian. What we're seeing today isn't new. It's very old, and raising its ugly head again after a hibernation. It was only a hundred years ago that the Ottomans massacred 1.5 million Armenian Christians and thousands of Greek Christians.

12/8/15, 6:14 PM  
Anonymous Mj said...

Except that "radical Islam" is essentially a crock of shit. The intelligence agencies of the USA, Israel, Great Britain, etc. have created the perfect boogeyman for what Orwell documented as the endless war. Turkey is selling oil to Isis for Christ sakes. And why on earth won't these radical Muslims attack Israel. Huh. Doesn't make much sense does it? In fact, an Israeli colonel was Captured with Isis!! Hello! But guess what? You didn't know that because our corporate news ran some horse shit cover story, probably about some celebrity.
Isis "beheading" videos are obvious fakes. Case in point the one shot in Ukraine where you can see the freakin sound stage it was shot in.

Russia actually sees the writing on the wall and has done more damage to Isis in one month than we have in over a year. Golly gee we Americans just can't seem to be able to pinpoint and fight Isis--- does anyone actually buy this shit?! Or ever consider where our "news" comes from?

The fact that you've referenced Orwell in the past is beyond ironic. We are being spoon fed a total scam as far as the radical Islam bs is concerned. And instead of perpetuating these vile lies how about using the Internet to seek some truth. Do some digging. Because guess what? It don't matter one iota if you are a republican or a democrat--- we are all going to be on the losing end, every one of us.

Orwells 1984 is here now. And we are all being led to room 101.

By the way, tell your tales of non violent Christian conversion to the natives of this continent....are you serious?

"In a time of universal deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act." Orwell

12/8/15, 7:47 PM  
Anonymous Wyatt said...

The real reason for this war

I’m going to simplify things: the Plan for a New American Century – a document which was created by neoconservative warmongers in or close to power under George Bush Jr. – listed countries which it wanted the US to attack, namely: North Korea, Iraq, Iran, Libya and Syria.

The journal-neo.org site states: “[all were] pinpointed as enemies of the U.S. well before the illegal war in Iraq in 2003, as well as the illegal 2011 war in Libya and the ongoing proxy war in Syria.”
Retired US General Wesley Clarke went on record in 2007 stating that the fix was in: the U.S. had unilaterally decided to destroy Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Iran.
This is not some wild-eyed conspiracy theorist. Clarke was a four-star general, and the man who commanded Operation Allied Force in the Kosovo War during his term as the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe of NATO from 1997 to 2000.

The pretense of choice
Any objective assessment of who benefits from attacks upon the countries Clarke mentioned would not include any European country – or even the U.S. for that matter.

But the subtext is clear: if Europeans don’t want to take part, terrorist attacks will be allowed or contrived until they acquiesce.

In short: the ruling elite wants this war. Our pretend governments voted it through on the nod. And we the people will have to deal with the fallout and put up with random terrorist acts if we wake up and speak out about how this charade is rigged.

At the same time, the people of Syria are subject to bombing raids by the US, France and the UK – none of which have any invitation from the legitimate government of that country – actions which, properly speaking, are acts of war against the country the perpetrators claim to want to help.

My prediction: the clean-up operation Russia initiated and Assad approves of will be made to fail; terrorism will increase and spread into Europe; and mass immigration from Syria and that area to Europe will continue; and acts of terrorism on European soil will magically justify endless war, internal lock-down, wholesale surveillance, detention without trial, and troops on the street.

And this – in the absence of hard evidence based in action to the contrary – I can only see as the actual plan.

Do you remember voting for that?

No, nor do I.

https://www.rt.com/op-edge/324853-us-france-britain-syria/

12/8/15, 10:39 PM  
Anonymous Brian said...

Why does it matter which part or what Catholic Holy Book calls for atrocities? If Christians can weed out what is "genuine" and what to ignore, why can't Muslims do the same with their dopey book? (Hint: Most Muslims already do)

As for Christianity being the catalyst for getting rid of slavery, that is very, very debatable. What is not debatable is the largest slave trade in the history of the world was created by Christian European nations in the first place. This is a fact.

It is also a fact that the Bible very specifically endorses slavery.

When I read your following quote I literally spit out my coffee:

"Over 2000 years, Christianity hasn't spread itself at the point of a sword"

After that I realized this debate will go nowhere. It would be like arguing about the causes of Nazi Germany with someone who denies the Holocaust. I'm speechless. As a former history teacher you do realize that the Crusades were less than 2,000 year ago, right?

Wow!!

12/9/15, 8:14 AM  
Anonymous Rehan Mohammed said...

Many thanks and praises from Allah to our brother in arms, Tom McLaughlin!

Is very good thing you do to spread message of hate to all Muslims and to slander Islam in it's entirety. ISIL is happy as a mating camel for support in recruiting new members!

Keep up good work American devil in disguise!

12/9/15, 4:20 PM  
Blogger Tom McLaughlin said...

The Crusades were not evangelical expeditions. They were not spreading Christianity. They were for taking Jerusalem back from Muslim control as well as reaction to Muslim invasions of Europe, which started three centuries before the Crusades and continued for at least three centuries after them.

Read history, Brian. It's not wise to rely on Barack Obama's revisionist version. He doesn't even know how many states we have. He thinks they speak Austrian in Austria, so I sincerely doubt he knows anything about multiple Muslim sieges of Vienna.

12/9/15, 9:16 PM  
Blogger Tom McLaughlin said...

We're not debating. You're being schooled.

12/9/15, 9:18 PM  
Anonymous Brian said...

Oh, how silly of me to think that the crusades had anything to do with forcefully spreading christianity!

How about those angelic christians, who after re-conquering Spain from the Muslims instituted a horrific reign of religious terror. How many Jews and Muslims were massacred for not converting or leaving?

How about ol' Charlemagne? He sure killed a lot of people because they refused to convert. And how about the forcing pf christianity down the throats of natives of north and south america.

Look what happened to the Native Americans. Sure, much of the destruction was done for land, politics, and power, but a significant part of it was also done for religious reasons.


When you try and twist complicated issues and history into juvenile "we are all good, they are all bad" storylines, then it is you that needs to truly study up (dare to research beyond your "trusted" right wing and religious sites) and get some schooling.

No reply on how cherry-picking what is "genuine" in catholic holy books differs than that done in the Koran? Nope. Hide from the tough questions, just as you did with your last column (and most every column you write). A sure sign of a lost argument.



12/9/15, 10:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is obvious that the Mainstream press has an agenda when it comes to terrorism and religion. I just read an article in the Boston Globe on the Colorado who shot up a Planned Parenthood Center and it never even insinuated that he very likely was a religious fanatic. And Obama never once called the tragedy terrorism by Catholic Terrorists! And yet I can't read or hear anything anywhere nowadays without hearing the words "muslim", "Islam", and "terrorism".

Damn the Mainstream Press!

12/10/15, 2:54 PM  
Blogger Tom McLaughlin said...

Christianity doesn't train kindergartners to stab Jews and become suicide bombers. Islam does. Your tax money given to the Palestinian Authority helps pay for it.

12/11/15, 9:00 AM  
Anonymous Brian said...

No, Christianity does not "train" children to be terrorists, nor does Islam. Islam is not an entity that can do this. This is done by crazed extremists who should be wiped from the face of this earth. The millions of non-radicalized Muslims should not suffer for the sins of others.

If it were discovered that the Black Panthers were training children to kill would you speak bad about all blacks? If some wacky Christian cult did the same, would you demonize all Christians?

Remember, your holy book has just as much horrific advice as any other.

12/11/15, 9:40 AM  
Anonymous Dj said...

So, you get the straight dope from Israel from a news source that is blatantly Zionist. And you're bs meter is in tune, eh? What did your bs meter say when an Israeli colonel was caught with Isis? Or he fact that Israel treats Isis wounded and buys Isis oil!! Haha..wow. Fox and CNN are both Zionist owned and operated. Duh....

Israel, via, aipiac, virtually owns congress. Did you not see the reaction Netanyahu got from congress, and with no presidential invitation? Do you realize how many ziomists own our news agencies. And you think this isn't propaganda? May want to get a new bs meter, huh?

Through a relentless campaign of guilt shaming built on lies and constant propaganda Israel has swindled the Christian Right with fear mongering based on biblical fantasy and constant holocaust propaganda ...and you claim to have a bs meter? Please....

One can be arrested in multiple countries in Europe for questioning the WWII narrative. Yes. That is true. Makes ya think, don't it? Pretty obvious why anyone would enforce such Orwellian laws..
The truth doesn't fear criticism.

12/11/15, 10:20 AM  
Anonymous Alnatour said...

According to the FBI, 94% of terrorist attacks carried out in the United States since 1980 have been by non-Muslims. This means that an American terrorist suspect is over nine times more likely to be a non-Muslim than a Muslim. According to this same report, there were more Jewish acts of terrorism in the United States than Islamic, yet when was the last time we heard about the threat of Jewish terrorism in the media? For the same exact reasons that we cannot blame the entire religion of Judaism or Christianity for the violent actions of those carrying out crimes under the names of these religions, we have absolutely no justifiable grounds to blame Muslims for terrorism.

There have been over one thousand terrorist attacks in Europe in the past five years. Take a guess at what percent of those terrorists were Muslim. Wrong, now guess again. It's less than 2%.

Even if all terrorist attacks were carried out by Muslims, you still could not associate terrorism with Islam: There have been 140,000 terror attacks committed worldwide since 1970. Even if Muslims carried out all of these attacks (which is an absurd assumption given the fact mentioned in my first point), those terrorists would represent less than 0.00009 percent of all Muslims.


12/11/15, 10:45 AM  
Anonymous Brian said...

Those facts posted above must really be messing with Tom's closed mind! I can just hear him now...."but, but....my sources led me to believe that almost all terrorism was committed by those evil Muslims"

Then SLAM....the sound of his mind closing completely and going into denial mode (the way he deals with climate change).

12/11/15, 12:07 PM  
Anonymous Dr.Know said...

Even before America’s unprovoked, massive, and long bombing of Iraq, Israel took full advantage of the US imposed No-Fly Zone over Iraq with their Operation Shekhinah, which stole untold millions of barrels of oil from the southern oil fields of Iraq. Israel used the long existing Trans-Arabian Pipeline to pump the oil back to its own oil refineries in Haifa.*

*Research: Operation Shekhinah ­Israel’s Blitzkrieg on Middle East Oil, by Joe Vialls

And once again, our “good friend” and ostensible watchdog in the Middle East ­ Israel ­ was caught stealing from its close neighbors. Lebanese Speaker of the Parliament Nabih Berri tells us that the oh-so-holy-apartheid state of Israel has long been stealing oil and gas from huge underwater reserves off the coast of Southern Lebanon.

To this day, oil theft, chaos, poverty, and Arab/Muslim/Christian deaths remain a major problem for all the oil-rich countries the US, NATO, and Israeli Air Forces have so severely bombed.

Currently, under the guise of fighting ISIS, both the American and French air forces have been busy bombing Syria’s oil pipelines saying they wanted to cut off the profits in stolen oil made by the terrorists using those pipelines.

Those lies (reported as truths by the Western mainstream media) were easily exposed by the fact that no group of terrorists has ever gained any access to Syria’s oil pipelines.

The American and French jet bombers were essentially serving as the air forces for ISIS against the people of Syria and their government.

What oil ISIS does manage to steal from Syria and Iraq is transported to Turkey by tanker trucks, once again exposing Turkey as a state sponsorer of terrorism.

From black market sources in Turkey, Israel buys the oil cheaply, once again proving the support of terrorism of the US/NATO/Israeli crime syndicate.

Those tanker trucks were most likely provided to the terrorists by American taxpayers, again exposing America as the most major supporter of terrorism in the world. Without US taxpayers the state-sponsored terrorism of America could not function. This, however, is not new. The Western strategy of using jihadists and mercenaries dates back to the time of Lawrence of Arabia and even earlier: the Caucasian Wars of the 19th century.

It took elements from the Russian Air Force to destroy those trucks, proving Russia to be an anti-terrorist country.

So once again, the US was responsible for killing Arab life and wasting their resources by what is conceivably the world’s biggest open secret: America’s covert creation, funding, equipping, arming, and direction of the terrorist butchers in the Middle East.

And while this fact puts the leaders of the US/NATO/Israel alliance on a par with the terrorist groups, it also makes Western Christians and Jews culpable of crimes against humanity, far more so than any other religious groupings on earth ­ including the Muslims.

The turmoil, agony, and death that has been so long and widespread in the Middle East will remain unresolvable until the US/NATO/Israeli axis of evil chooses to discontinue their bombing raids and proxy wars against the Arab governments, exclusively using foreign mercenaries and misfits to terrorize millions of law-abiding Arabs, Muslims, and Christians.*

*Note: None of the hired guns of al Qaeda, ISIS, or ISIL have ever attacked Israel.

12/11/15, 3:53 PM  
Anonymous Mr.E said...

I have come to understand, over the years of chuckling over Tom's columns, that he truly doesn't get it. He really does not have any sense about is going on in our country. I used to think that Tom's only goal was to irritate the rational, but ever since reading Tom's now classic old chestnut from November of 2012, which was entitled -

ROMNEY ROUT
It’s not going to be close next Tuesday.

I realized for certain that he really had swallowed up the whole right wing propaganda bait. How in the fricken hell could he have been so disconnected with reality? Of course Obama was going to win! How did this fact not penetrate his bubble? Then I realized...he simply disregarded all the "mainstream" evidence. Tom refused to trust the mainstream polls (even those which predicted all 50 states correctly in 2008), because they were "mainstream" polls and not to be trusted. Ooooops! I guess it was Tom's trusted right wing sources, and their polls, that were not to be trusted. And how could anybody ever trust the political opinions of a columnist that was that far removed from what was happening with the 2012 election?

But did Tom live and learn? No! He doubled down and continued believing anything the same sources had been spoon feeding him...."please sir, can I have another"

It is so entertaining getting a chance to read Tom's columns and get a peek into the mind of one living in that strange little bubble of the fantasy right wing world.

12/11/15, 11:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just heard today how Canada expedited the process of taking in more Syrian refugees. Imagine a country going out of it's way to help others, where the thought process is "how can we help quicker". I'm sure one benefit to Canada will be that any walked out extremist thinking of killing innocents will certainly be more tempted to bring harm to countries they deem to be mean and selfish, instead of places like Canada.

Give Canadiens credit for figuring out that there are WAY easier ways for a terrorist to enter the country (student visa, tourist, etc) then to stay in a refugee camp for years in the hopes that they will get sent to the USA.

12/12/15, 4:08 PM  
OpenID bc64a9f8-765e-11e3-8683-000bcdcb2996 said...

Wait..."there are WAY easier ways for a terrorist to enter the country (student visa, tourist, alien spouse, "work" visa, etc)"
Why IS that?
CaptDMO

12/13/15, 9:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Because it is impossible to check out the life story of everybody that visits. I know you gives love living in a bubble, but don't try and entrap the rest of us in it.

12/13/15, 10:11 AM  
OpenID bc64a9f8-765e-11e3-8683-000bcdcb2996 said...

"Because it is impossible to check out the life story of everybody that visits. I know you gives love living in a bubble,..."
OK, can you see how um...SOME folks simply "entrap" themselves yet?
(Para)"It's not that they're ignorant, it's that they KNOW so much that just isn't so!"
Kinda' like "science". Kinda' like...."Sophomores".
CaptDMO

12/14/15, 8:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great self analysis there, Capt!

12/14/15, 10:09 AM  

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