The facts are devastating. Upwards of 170,000 Christians have been systematically murdered by the Islamic State and sympathizers; whole Christian communities, villages and provinces are being eradicated in the Middle East; a Christian is executed in Syria, Iraq or Libya every five minutes by one account. Yet the Obama White House and Kerry State Department do nothing. There is no declaration of “genocide” against Christians, no interest in raising the topic. Like the aversion to saying “Islamic terrorist,” this administration cannot say “Christian Genocide.” Why?
The answer is both simple and complex. Simple, in that saying that Islamic State is committing “Christian genocide,” beheading, crucifying, enslaving and seeking to eliminate Christians via “genocide” triggers a legal need to act under international law. There would have to be direct aid, international action and specific intervening actions by the United States under a 1948 convention. Complex, in that there seem to be strains inside the Obama Administration that seem to wish not to tag an Islamic radical movement, which they refuse to call Islamic, with eradicating Christians. Bizarre, but true.
The irony and tragedy are both deepening. Christians, Christian values, and millennia-old Christian places of worship are being methodically erased from the wider Middle East. The Obama White House and Kerry State Department stand and watch. They look away from the issue, away from the obvious “Christian genocide” – because once they say the truth, they become obligated by law to act. They do not want to act.
Is the Obama Administration afraid to act, afraid of reprisals from somewhere or someone? Do they doubt their own moral and military ability, that is our moral and military ability as a Nation, to say what is right and do what it right? Do they consciously not care, or worse: Are they consciously indifferent to the plight of Christians? The record is unclear, but the sound of silence on this issue is becoming deafening.
One thing Americans do not pride themselves on is moral indifference, especially as a Nation founded by Christians and on Christian values, a Nation focused on living to our higher calling not indulging our lowest instincts. We are not about fear, but about courage; we are not about slipping backwards but about pressing forwards. Nor do we counsel or think of ourselves as cowards.
Yet the very inaction we are witnessing is a sign of all this – moral corruption and indifference, intransigence in the face of obvious evil, at best a collective sense of denial, at worst unintended complicity. If we do not act to protect these Christians and Christianity, in the very cradle of the religion, when and where will we?
One is reminded – all too quickly – of warnings from our past. Said Edmund Burke, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” Today, across the Middle East, as Islamic State’s genocide deliberately wipes out Christian communities, these words ring with new solemnity, resonance and volume. As the bell tolls for the long-overdue declaration of “genocide” against Christians in the region, and commensurate action to help these innocents by the thousands to live and worship where they have for thousands of years, will we hear at last from President Obama?
Here is an issue that calls for Americans to stay and stand together, to speak with one voice, and without hesitation or reservation. We should not allow ourselves to be cowed by winds of political correctness or indifference. We cannot give in to the odd delusion that such inveterate evil is not our problem, will disappear without our notice and action, or that we are somehow immune from the moral burdens placed on us.
We are – whatever our varied and personal religious persuasions – still a moral people, founded and lifted by moral and enlightening ideas and ideals. As Americans we have a duty to speak, act, and be square with the truth, our past and the future. A “Christian genocide” is underway in the Middle East. Mr. President, say so – clearly and without delay. Then let us get on with addressing this ugly truth. Enough of false and pretentious forbearance. As Edmund Burke also said, “There is … a limit at which forbearance ceases to be a virtue.” We have reached that moment.