I owe the MRC an apology for doubting them. I read this piece assuming all the way through that they had misconstrued what must be a perfectly innocent glitch by the White House in translating Hollande. Nope. Watch the official WH video below (starting at 3:20) and follow along with the official WH translation and you’ll see how hard it is to come up with an explanation different from theirs. The audio on the clip perfectly tracks the transcript — except when it cuts out for exactly two sentences and then resumes:
But we’re also well aware that the roots of terrorism, Islamist terrorism, is in Syria and in Iraq. We therefore have to act both in Syria and in Iraq, and this is what we’re doing within the framework of the coalition.
I’d chalk that up to a glitch if not for the fact that it jibes with Obama’s own notorious policy of not mentioning Islam in connection with jihadism. If that’s his rhetorical preference, okay; it reeks of embarrassing political correctness but it’s his prerogative to choose his own words. It’s not his prerogative to choose someone else’s words, particularly when that someone is a foreign head of state whose country is dealing with a more severe jihadist threat right now than the United States is. They’ve actually reached the point now where they’re blacking out references to Islam for English speakers in official state video of talks over terrorism. (At least they’re not censoring transcripts. Yet.)
You know what the worst part is? Hollande didn’t say “Islamic terrorism,” which is the supposedly objectionable term. He said “Islamist terrorism.” “Islamist” was, I thought, a term that came into use precisely because it gave the speaker an efficient way to distinguish between “moderate Muslims” and the more jihad-minded. “Islamic” describes all things Muslim; “Islamist” describes a supremacist view in which Islam is the highest authority of the state. Many critics of Islam would dispute that there’s a meaningful distinction between those two, but Obama and Hollande certainly wouldn’t. ISIS may not be Islamic to Obama but it’s certainly Islamist. Point being, Hollande chose his words carefully here according to the White House transcript so as not to conflate the average Muslim with the jihadis he’s discussing — and the White House still censored him. That’s the point we’re at.
Update: Needless to say: “If a Republican president was silencing translations because of politics, it’d be a front-page story.”