(CNSNews.com) - Why is the Obama White House bending over backwards to avoid talking about "radical Islam," using the term "violent extremism" instead?
"I think the reason is two-fold," White House spokesman Josh Earnest told a reporter who asked that question at Tuesday's press briefing.
"The first is accuracy. We want to describe exactly what happened. These are individuals who carried out an act of terrorism (in Paris), and they later tried to justify that act of terrorism by invoking the religion of Islam and their own deviant view of it."
"The second is, this is an act that was roundly condemned by Muslim leaders. Again, I'm describing to you the reasons why we have not chosen to use that label, because it doesn't seem to accurately describe what had happened. But we also don't want to be in a situation where we are legitimizing what we consider to be a completely illegitimate justification for this violence, this act of terrorism."
Earnest said he would not criticize anyone who chooses to call it "radical Islam," but he said the Obama administration -- by using the term "violent extremism" -- is trying to be "as specific and accurate as possible in describing exactly what occurred."
As CNSNews.com reported, the Obama White House announced on Jan. 11 that President Obama will host a "Summit on Countering Violent Extremism" on Feb. 18 and that the event will be held "in light of recent, tragic attacks in Ottawa, Sydney and Paris." All of those attacks were carried out by radical Islamic terrorists.
On Monday, Earnest said "all forms of violent extremism would certainly be discussed in the context of the summit," including the threat from people who invoke the name of Islam, which he described as "an otherwise peaceful religion."
"It's not just Islamic violent extremism that we want to counter; there are other forms," Earnest said.
On Tuesday, a reporter asked Earnest to list two or three other forms of violent extremism that are non-Islamic. Earnest mentioned three white supremacists, some or all of whom may have had mental problems:
James von Brunn in June 2009 shot and killed a security guard at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., "in pursuit of some radical violent ideology," Earnest said. (The Washington Post described von Brunn as a white supremacist who had been undergoing mental health evaluations at a federal prison in Butner, N.C., in the months before the murder.)
Earnest also named Wade Michael Page, another white supremacist/neo-Nazi, who attacked a Sikh temple in Wisconsin in 2012. "It's unclear to me exactly what ideology motivated him," Earnest said. "But that is a pretty good example of somebody who has a violent extreme ideology and an ideology and extremist practices that are worth countering."
"Let me just give you one other example that's actually close to my heart," Earnest continued. "There's an individual who shot up the Jewish Community Center in suburban Kansas City, that this is an individual who, again, subscribes to a warped ideology that he tried to use to justify this violent attack. (Frazier Glenn Miller Jr., a former Ku Klux Klan leader, has been undergoing mental evaluation and was found competent to stand trial just last month.)
Earnest said the three (crazy, white) men he cited exemplify "the kind of violent extremism that our summit is motivated to counter."
Earnest said the summit will allow members of the Obama administration to meet with state and local officials to "talk about best practices, about some of things that they can do in their community, to make sure that individuals like this don't succeed in carrying out these acts of violence in the name of a warped ideology."