Is al Qaeda racist?

Obama and his aides suggest that al Qaeda's targeting of Uganda proves the terrorist group has a racist agenda. Is that a meaningful analysis?

The aftermath of one of the blasts, which took place in a restaurant during the World Cup.
(Image credit: Corbis)

The deadly bombings in Uganda at the weekend are proof that al Qaeda is racist, say aides close to the president. Speaking to South African television, President Obama said that al Shabab — the al Qaeda affiliate reportedly responsible for Sunday's blasts — "do not regard African life as valuable in and of itself." Clarifying his remarks, an aide told ABC News that al Qaeda willingly sacrifices black Africans to make a point to their real targets. "Al Qaeda is a racist organization that treats black Africans like cannon fodder," the unnamed official said. Are the Uganda bombings evidence of al Qaeda's racism? (Watch Rush Limbaugh's reaction to Obama's charge)

This is about Islam in Africa, not the rest of the world: Right-wing pundits are howling that "Obama cares more about black victims of terror than about white ones," says Greg Sargent at the Washington Post. But the president's remarks were actually made in the context of a discussion of Islam in Africa, not America. Still the Right can use it as evidence for the bizarre fantasy that Obama only cares about "people with dark skin." How "sick."

"Latest right wing attack: Obama only cares about black victims of terrorism"

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Obama should focus on Islamic radicalism, not his race obsession: "Good grief," sighs Jennifer Rubin at Commentary. The reason al Qaeda kills people is not racism, but "Islamic fundamentalism, of course." The president's "transparently manipulative" suggestion that race is a factor in al Qaeda's operations is "strikingly condescending" and "potentially divisive."

"Obama's race obsession"

But as presidential PR, it could be strikingly effective: Linking al Qaeda with racism is actually a good idea, says Allahpundit at Hot Air. It's a "cheap, hopefully effective way of combating jihadi recruitment in Africa by elevating racial pride above religious identity." I'm not sure it's strictly true — the group "tends not to, er, discriminate when it comes to killing people" — but as "psy ops on the presidential level" it's "all to the good."

"New White House talking point: Al Qaeda is racist"

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