There's been some chatter about why ISIS in particular and terrorism in general weren't mentioned in the first days of the Democratic convention.
Now we know why: When Leon Panetta, former CIA head and secretary of defense under President Obama, last night at the convention brought up the unseemly topic of national defense and protecting the U.S. from enemies, he was booed.
For the most part, Panetta's speech was a caustic attack on Donald Trump, portrayed as too unhinged to be commander-in-chief, but the notion that the U.S. should not "withdraw" from the world evoked raucous chants of "No more war!” Panetta several times had to stop speaking.
John Podhoretz interprets the crowd's treatment of Panetta as a warning for Hillary Clinton:
Those boos and interruptions were meaningful because their purpose was precisely to warn Hillary Clinton against any pivot to the center — to threaten her with the possibility that the slightest betrayal of the Sanders agenda might lead a significant number of the 13 million Sanders voters to stay home, or vote for third-party candidates or even Donald Trump.
Panetta's charge, Podhoretz writes, was to assure undecided voters that Hillary could defeat ISIS and Boko Haram and other terrorist organization. Instead, he was booed even by his own delegation from California.
What if Hillary becomes president and seeks to try to take a more aggressive stance towards terrorism than the Obama administration? A significant number of her party are adamantly committed to turning a blind eye towards the threats. Some of this may stem from a desire not to embarrass the Obama administration, under which the threat of terror has become magnified, and which constantly seeks to downplay the peril.
I am wondering if some of this blindness doesn't stem from our culture. A generation of people brought up on the slogan "War Is Not the Answer," seems unequipped to ask, But what is the question? People who are unable to utter the words "Islamic terrorism" are unlikely to be able to confront it.
Of course, this is not limited to members of the Obama administration and attenders of Democratic conventions. I can't help noticing that even the Vatican seems to share this inability to face the truth about our enemies. In issuing a statement on the murder of Father Jacques Hamel earlier this week, the Vatican seemed to regard it as almost incidental that the attack took place in a church. The statement also condemned "all forms of hatred." But this was not "all forms of hatred." It was particular form of hatred. The Vatican is too tactful to name it.
Like most statements on terrorist attacks, the Vatican statement referred to "violence." Violence is fast becoming a weasel word–it is so neutral. Violence is being slapped in an altercation in the parking lot. It is a generic word, hardly the one to describe a beheading.
But, as we also saw in last night's booing of Leon Panetta, we must not look at the dangers that lie before us. We must not notice our predicament. Close your eyes, and ISIS will vanish, right?