Hillary Clinton right-flanked President Obama and even the CIA by using rhetoric favored by Donald Trump when she blamed this weekend's horrific massacre at a gay club in Orlando, Florida on "radical Islamism."
Politico reported that Clinton was "happy"—yes, that's a direct quote—to say that the attacks were "radical jihadism" or "radical Islamism."
Her phrasing was so backwards, so appalling, that Donald Trump even claimed credit for getting her to say it.1
While Clinton's strategy may be to be seen as tough on "security," the reality is her message isn't the way to breed unity after tragedy. Instead, her words are helping to leave even more innocent people vulnerable to further vigilante violence.
We're calling on Secretary Clinton to retract her statement and show real, principled leadership in this difficult moment.
In her own words last December, Clinton said that the problem with using the term radical Islam “is, that sounds like we are declaring war against a religion. That to me is number one, wrong.”2
Her change of heart in just six months raises a critical question: Is Secretary Clinton willing to follow Donald Trump down the rabbit hole of hate as times get difficult in this election—or worse, if she's in office? We hope that the answer is no.
President Obama avoids the term "radical Islam" to deny the idea that "America—and the West, generally—is at war with Islam."3 Even CIA Director John Brennan has noted that the U.S. government avoided using either "jihadists" or "Islamists" to describe terrorists, saying that "there is nothing holy or legitimate or Islamic about murdering innocent men, women, and children."4
If Hillary Clinton is running to represent the American people, and not merely competing against Donald Trump, she should immediately retract her statement.
We call for solidarity with LGBTQ communities, including Muslims, in the wake of the Orlando shooting and the attempted attack in Santa Monica, California. Some of the largest LGBTQ advocacy organizations in the country were the first to say that we won't let this moment devolve into an attack against Muslims because of the murderer's background. We salute those leaders, we stand with their communities, and we call on Hillary Clinton to be just as principled and bold as they've been.
1. "Clinton breaks from Obama, calls Orlando attack 'radical Islamism,'" Politico, Jun 13, 2016
3. "War of words: The fight over 'radical Islamic terrorism,'" Politifact, Dec 11, 2015
4. "Clinton breaks from Obama, calls Orlando attack 'radical Islamism,'" Politico, Jun 13, 2016