Philadelphia comedian Jim Kenney has a flair for absurdist humor, and his talents were on abundant display Thursday, when a local jihadi, a convert to Islam named Edward Archer, shot and seriously wounded police officer Jesse Hartnett, and then explained: “I follow Allah. I pledge my allegiance to the Islamic state. That is why I did what I did.” Kenney’s response was as dazzling a sendup of the willful ignorance of today’s public officials as you’ll ever see.
Pretending to be the Mayor of Philadelphia, Kenney, one of the most daring and imaginative comedians on the scene today, said this after showing a surveillance video of Archer garbed in Islamic dress and shooting at Hartnett: “In no way shape or form does anyone in this room believe that Islam or the teaching of Islam has anything to do with what you’ve seen on the screen….It is abhorrent. It is terrible and it does not represent the religion or any of its teachings. This is a criminal with a stolen gun who tried to kill one of our officers. It has nothing to do with being a Muslim or following the Islamic faith.”
Brilliant! Kenney had the audience laughing, clapping and howling for more with his poker-faced impersonation of an intentionally clueless contemporary public official. His performance recalled some of the career highlights of Barack Obama, John Kerry, and their British colleague in comedy, David Cameron, such as Obama’s classifying the Fort Hood jihad massacre as “workplace violence” and Kerry’s suggesting that all jihadis needed to discard their romantic dreams of being a modern-day warrior for Allah would be a chance to say “Would you like fries with that?”
Kenney, however, went them one better by issuing his risible claims even in the face of Archer’s own claims about why he shot Hartnett, as well as Police Commissioner Richard Ross’ statement about Archer: “According to him, police bend laws that are contrary to the teachings of the Qur’an.”
Contrary to the teachings of the Qur’an? How could that possibly have anything to do with Islam? Clearly Kenney has a bright future on the comedy circuit.
There’s just one catch: Jim Kenney really is the Mayor of Philadelphia. His statements represent the official position of his administration: that despite Edward Archer’s explicit avowals to have acted in the name of Allah and Islam, he wasn’t really doing so. He just thought he was.
Poor Archer! What does he have to do to get taken seriously as a jihadi? If shooting a police officer multiple times and pledging allegiance to the Islamic State, which has called on Muslims in the U.S. to attack police officers, won’t do it, what will? Would it help if he had passed out Qur’ans on the morning of his shooting, told a neighbor that he was going to do something great for God, and screamed “Allahu akbar” as he was firing? No, Army psychiatrist Major Nidal Malik Hasan did that as he murdered thirteen Americans in Fort Hood on November 5, 2009, and that one, as we have seen, was “workplace violence.” How about if he said, as Boston Marathon jihad murderer Dzokhar Tsarnaev did, that he and his brother cooked up the entire jihad mass murder plot to “defend Islam”? No, everyone knows that one happened because Americans weren’t friendly enough to the immigrant brothers. How about if he had been reading literature by jihad mastermind Anwar al-Awlaki and spoke about Islamic martyrdom, like Chattanooga jihad murderer Mohammed Abdulazeez? No, that one has proved a real head-scratcher, with authorities puzzled as to the motives for months.
So what could Archer possibly have done? Trying to think of anything he could have said or done to convince Jim Kenney that he was acting in the name of Islam and in accord with its teachings of warfare against unbelievers simply beggars the imagination. For the Jim Kenneys of the world are simply certain that people just do not do such things, despite any amount of evidence to the contrary. For Kenney and his ilk, Muslims are victims, no matter what. They are never at fault, no matter what they do, and in the unlikely event that they commit an act of violence, it was because they were mentally ill, or pushed over the edge by “Islamophobia” and the unkindness of white Americans.
Jim Kenney and others like him don’t need the facts of any particular case to arrive at this conclusion. They know it already, and could have a form handy: “The terror attack on [date] at [place] had nothing whatsoever to do with Islam, the noble religion of peace. We call upon all people to reject racism, bigotry and Islamophobia, and we stand with the Muslim community in condemning backlash attacks against innocent Muslims during this difficult period.”
FDR could have used one of these forms in 1942 or 1943: “The military attack on [date] at [place] had nothing whatsoever to do with Germany, the noble nation of Central Europe. We call upon all people to reject racism, bigotry and Germanophobia, and we stand with the German community in condemning backlash attacks against innocent Germans during this difficult period.”
If the President had had such forms during World War II, would the United States have won the war? Probably not. And the denial today makes it harder for us to win this one: instead of calling the Muslim community in the U.S. to account and making sure that jihadis are not operating within it, officials pander to it and deny the stated motive of our enemies, and thus condemn us to ignorance about the motives and goals of those enemies at a time when they are more active than ever.
Jim Kenney is not concerned about any of that. He doesn’t even think we’re in a war, so why should he care if we’re waging it all wrong? And if the voters of Philadelphia ever catch on to how they’re being lied to and throw him out of office, he’s got a great career ahead in standup comedy.