Nevertheless, White House spokesman Josh Earnest explained after the breakfast coffee cups were cleared that the president is reluctant to apply the word “genocide” because of “legal ramifications … There are lawyers considering whether or not that term can be properly applied in this scenario.” In this litigious era, the use of the G-word could trigger an ISIS lawsuit for defamation of character. (Nobody could make this stuff up.)
But Barack Obama leads from behind, or not at all. Pope Francis no doubt has lawyers, too, but he has endorsed putting the label on ISIS, and so have the Holy See’s representative to the United Nations in Geneva, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom and 30 members of Congress. The European Parliament, rarely a bold voice for righteousness, adopted a resolution recognizing that the “so-called’ISIS/Daesh’ commits genocide against Christians and Yazidis and other religious and ethnic minorities.” The U.S. State Department is said to be considering a genocide designation for the massacre of the Yazidis, but not Christians.
In its quest for a caliphate to overspread the entire Middle East, ISIS is systematically driving out or killing all those whose religious practices do not mirror their own, including other Muslims. Christians comprise only 3 percent of Iraqis and 8 percent of Syrians, and those numbers are dwindling rapidly. ISIS offers men and women of other faiths — if, indeed, radical Islam can accurately be called a “faith” — who fall into their hands dreadful choices: Convert to Islam, pay a heavy tax or, if a man, expect a grisly death. Women and children are favored with rape and enslavement. Many choose to flee, seeking safety amid the millions who crowd refugee camps in Jordan and Turkey, or risk taking the long journey to Europe, where they are usually less than warmly welcomed.
Moral weakness is the source of reluctance to face up to evil. Mr. Obamaand the State Department repeat a toothless solution to the ISIS-inspired Syrian civil war: “We continue to believe that that has to be solved through political solutions, through political dialogue, through getting the parties together and working through this transition.” Tough stuff like that ought to put the fear of Allah into them.