After another ISIS-inspired shooting, Philadelphia’s mayor joins the chorus: It’s not about religion, no sir.
by Dorothy Rabinowitz • Wall Street Journal
It required only half a minute for the mayor of Philadelphia, Democrat Jim Kenney, to achieve national fame. On Friday, an already sensation-crowded day, it fell to the mayor to take part in the official pronouncements on the attempted murder of city police officer Jesse Hartnett, shot and severely wounded as he sat in his patrol car when a would-be assassin emptied his gun at him—13 shots in all.
Police Commissioner Richard Ross Jr., appointed just three days earlier, delivered the details with noteworthy eloquence: The wounded officer, bleeding heavily from three wounds, one arm useless, had gotten himself out of the car, chased the attacker and shot him.
The drama of this recital needed no amplification, but there it was anyway: Clear security video images showed the assailant in his flowing white dishdasha—a robe favored by Muslim men—running toward the patrol car, shooting, sticking his hand in the window, and racing speedily away. Pictures too of the police officer lurching out of the car to give chase.
The wounded shooter, Commissioner Ross revealed, told police after his capture that he had mounted the attack in the name of Islam, that he believes that “the police defend laws that are contrary to Islam.” The man apparently wanted to talk only about his devotion to Islam.
Undaunted by anything he’d heard so far, Mayor Kenny then came to the microphone and declared: “In no way, shape or form does anybody in this room believe that Islam or the teaching of Islam” had anything to do with the attack. “This was a criminal with a stolen gun.”
Mr. Kenny’s tone was fervent. Out of this event—involving a murderous assault on a police officer, and a heroic response by that officer—the mayor, awash in excitation, had divined what was, for him, the most important concern of this day. Namely, persuading citizens that this attack had nothing to do with allegiance to Islam.
It added to the surreal wonders of this scene that, immediately after the mayor’s pronouncement, the commander of the police department’s homicide unit calmly took the microphone. Capt. James Clark reported that the shooter (later identified as 30-year-old Edward Archer) had said, repeatedly, that he followed Allah, that he pledged allegiance to Islamic State and “That is the reason I did what I did.”
The mayor’s comments, so bizarre in their determined denial of the deluge of facts delivered by top police officials standing next to him, were, nonetheless, familiar enough. Americans have learned to expect, after every Islamist terror attack, lectures instructing them that such assaults should in no way be connected to Islamic faith of any kind.
To hear the mayor of Philadelphia was to grasp, more clearly than ever, the fury that has led to Donald Trump’s success in attracting voters—the fury of citizens who know official lies when they hear them, whether about border security, immigration, or the ever-expanding requirements of multiculturalist dogma.
These are not the easiest of times for the enforcers of such dogma, especially in Europe, as another mayor, a German, has reason to know. Much of Germany is, today, still in shock over the coordinated assaults that took place New Year’s Eve, when bands of young men surrounded, sexually molested and robbed women in the streets of Cologne—molesters unanimously described by eyewitnesses to have been of Arab and North African origins. For four days following the mass assaults, Germany’s ZDF public TV station reported nothing about the attacks.
Cologne’s police chief would soon stand accused of concealing that the assailants were Middle Eastern males. The mayor of Cologne, Henriette Reker, found herself in instant trouble when she advised women that if they wanted to protect themselves, it was certainly possible to keep strange men at arm’s length. She ventured no explanation of how this might be done when a woman was tightly encircled by men grabbing at her private parts while others stole her handbag, as was typically the case during the assaults.
Mayor Reker also announced that it was “absolutely impermissible” to suggest that the perpetrators could have been part of the recent refugee flood into Germany. Within days investigators were able to report that most of the 33 suspects rounded up were asylum seekers.
The current political piety dictating what is and is not permissible to say about terrorism and Muslims didn’t spring from nowhere. Nor did the compulsion to preach on the subject. The Philadelphia mayor’s bewitching half-minute lecture on Friday was only the most recent example. The sermonizing reflex—a quintessential element in Barack Obama’s notion of leadership—has by now taken on a life of its own. Who doesn’t know now to expect, in a speech by the president, or in some exchange of his with reporters, the glum rebuke, “That’s not who we are”?
On no subject has there been more sermonizing than on Muslims and terrorism and on what the real Islam is and is not—no surprise in an administration which has from its outset tended to the apparent view that the American nation is essentially composed of yahoos whose barely controlled instincts to riot require regular monitoring and checks by their enlightened betters.
All this notwithstanding the history that shows that, after the slaughter of 9/11 and through all the bloody assaults since that were committed against them by rampaging soldiers of Islam—Fort Hood, the Boston Marathon, San Bernardino—Americans have conducted themselves with exemplary courage and dignity. Neither the president nor other moral instructors who hasten forth after every terror attack to bring light unto the nation appear to have noticed.
Years of effort by this administration to deny, conceal and sermonize the nation out of its awareness of facts clearly evident to them is the sort of thing that doesn’t escape Americans in this election season, shadowed by the threat of terrorism. That is a fact Hillary Clinton might consider as she goes forth to celebrate her identification with the Obama years.
Ms. Rabinowitz is a member of the Journal’s editorial board.