WikiLeaks email: Clinton campaign says it would have been 'better' if San Bernardino shooter was white
Posted October 23, 2016
People within Hillary Clinton’s campaign were upset that the shooters of the 2015 San Bernardino massacre were Muslim, a new WikiLeaks email drop of a batch of messages show.
The December 2015 shooting left 14 people dead and 22 injured after Syed Farook and his wife Tashfeen Malik attacked a holiday party at the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health.
After the shooting occurred, MSNBC’s Christopher Hayes tweeted the name of the shooter.
As The Toronto Sun reported, Clinton campaign manager John Podesta and fellow campaign worker Matt Ortega went back and forth over the emails about the shooter's name. Podesta said that it would have been "better if a guy named (Syed Farook) was reporting that a guy named Christopher Hayes was the shooter," according to the leaked emails.
Meanwhile, Karen Finney, a campaign spokeswoman, replied with a simple, “Damn."
Why was the campaign upset by the shooter's name? According to The Daily Caller, "The San Bernardino massacre created a political problem for Clinton and other Democrats. Republicans gained traction by accusing Democrats of being soft on terrorism in general and Islamic terrorism in particular."
This has been a consistent theme throughout the 2016 election cycle, according to Fox News. In fact, another exchange during the recent dump of emails showed a 154-page debate prep book released two months after the shooting that outlined a discussion about whether or not Clinton should refer to terrorist attacks as “Islamic terorrism” or not. Rather, the book suggested that Clinton call these attackers “radical jihadists.”
“Now, of course there are those who twist Islam to justify mass murder,” the third point in the prep book reads. “But we can’t buy into the same narrative that these barbaric, radical jihadists use to recruit new followers. Declaring war on Islam or demonizing the Muslim-American community is not only counter to our values — it plays right into the terrorists’ hands.”
On the seventh point, the report said, “Radical jihadists underestimate us. We won’t turn on each other or turn on our principles. We will keep our country safe and strong, free and tolerant. And we will defeat those who threaten us.”
The debate about whether or not to refer to the attacks as radical Islamic terrorism or not has been a focal point of the 2016 election. In fact, during the second presidential debate last Sunday, Trump expressed frustration that Clinton hasn’t used the term to define recent terrorist attacks, according to PolitiFact.
"These are radical Islamic terrorists and she won't even mention the word, and nor will President Obama. He won't use the term ‘radical Islamic terrorism,’” Trump said during the Oct. 9 debate at Washington University in St. Louis. "Now, to solve a problem, you have to be able to state what the problem is or at least say the name. She won't say the name and President Obama won't say the name. But the name is there. It's radical Islamic terror."
But Clinton used the phrase “violent jihadist terrorists,” in her response to Trump and suggested that the U.S. wasn’t at war with the Islamic faith.
"And it is a mistake, and it plays into the hands of the terrorists to act as though we are," she said.
Clinton said after the Orlando shooting back in June that it doesn't really matter what the attacks were called, CNN reported.
"From my perspective, it matters what we do more than what we say. And you know, it mattered we got bin Laden, not what name we called him," she said on CNN on June 13. "Whether you call it radical jihadism or radical Islamism, I'm happy to say either. I think they mean the same thing."
Similarly, she said in a speech in Cleveland that she doesn’t want to paint Muslims with a broad brush, classifying them as terrorists when they’re not, according to Politifact. She also told MSNBC that the best way to deal with the issue is to not demonize the Islamic faith.
She even pointed to President Barack Obama’s own words about Islam, which he used in a June speech that condemned Trump’s plan to ban all foreign Muslims from the country.
"If we fall into the trap of painting all Muslims as a broad brush and imply that we are at war with the entire religion, then we are doing the terrorists' work for them," he said.
But Obama and Clinton aren’t the only two people in the public sphere to exercise caution about equating Islam and terrorism. Professor Reza Aslan also spoke with CNN back in 2014 about how Islam doesn’t promote terrorism and it makes little sense to link the two together. This came after Aslan was asked about his thoughts in regards to how women are treated in Muslim countries.
"This is the problem. These conversations that we’re having aren’t really being had in any kind of legitimate way,” he said. “We’re not talking about women in the Muslim world, we’re using two or three examples to justify a generalisation. That’s actually the definition of bigotry," he replied.
Similarly, Pope Francis spoke out in August about how Islam is not terrorism, according to The Daily Express.
“I know it's dangerous to say this, but terrorism grows when there is no other option and when money is made and it, instead of the person, is put at the center of the world economy,” he said. “That is the first form of terrorism. That is a basic terrorism against all humanity. Let’s talk about that."
Herb Scribner is a writer for Deseret Digital Media.