Editorials

Melissa Melendez notwithstanding, terrorism is not a fund-raising pitch

President Barack Obama speaks at the White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism on Wednesday.
President Barack Obama speaks at the White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism on Wednesday. Associated Press

At a White House summit Wednesday, President Barack Obama took on the tough subject of how to stop terrorist groups from spreading their hateful ideology.

He tried to make clear that while the West is not at war with Islam, it is at war with the Islamic State and other extremist groups that pervert religion for their horrific goals. He acknowledged that while some young Muslims in America and Europe have legitimate grievances, that doesn’t justify becoming a jihadi. He must convince Americans that military force alone won’t defeat terrorism – that it’s also a generational battle for hearts and minds.

It must be nice to be Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez and not have to worry about such complexities.

Instead on Wednesday, she sent out an outrageous fundraising pitch that doubled down on her tweet last week about the death of American aid worker Kayla Mueller. Melendez seemed to lump all Muslims together (#standup againstIslam) – whether violent extremists or “peaceful Muslims” she later said she didn’t mean to offend.

“I was met with a fury of hostility and angry replies from people on the left accusing me of spreading hate,” the Republican from Lake Elsinore in Riverside County wrote in her fundraising plea. “Amazing how my words can ignite a media storm, but there are people being murdered across the ocean, and no one is up in arms about that.”

“If you agree with me that we cannot turn a blind eye, and we must stand up to these Islamic savages, then I hope you will join me today,” she added, before asking for $15, $25, $50 or more.

Even as cynical fundraising appeals go, this one is over the top.

She claimed that the White House is silent on the Islamic State burning a Jordanian pilot alive or beheading Egyptian Christians. She must not be paying attention when Obama routinely condemns such atrocities. In his remarks Wednesday, he called them “savage cruelties” that must be stopped.

While the president is reaching out to Muslim communities for their help and preaching tolerance for all faiths, Melendez is driving deeper divisions.

But she apparently cares much more about bringing in money for her next campaign than about any damage she might be doing. Now that’s something to be up in arms about.

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