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December 7, 2015

Obama urges nation not to give in to fear


President Obama told the nation that the U.S. will destroy the Islamic State (ISIS) in an address from the Oval Office Sunday night.

Obama referred to the recent mass shooting in San Bernardino, California as an “act of terrorism to kill innocent people.”

Obama said he understands why many Americans are worried about the threat of terrorism but reiterated a point he has made in several speeches for Americans to not give into their fears.

The husband and wife pair who killed 14 people in San Bernardino on Dec. 2, had gone down a “dark path of radicalization” and had embraced a perverted form of Islam that calls for war against America, the President said.

Obama’s address comes at a time of increasing criticism from Republicans and some Democrats about his policies for fighting terrorism and the Administration’s handling of Syria’s civil war.

But in his speech, Obama said the U.S. will prevail by being strong and smart. He noted that airstrikes will continue against Syria as well as ground training for Syrians and Iraqis. In addition, Obama said the U.S. is increasing intelligence sharing with other countries in the fight against terrorism.

Obama also addressed how domestic policies need to change. He made it clear that the U.S. needs stronger gun safety laws and that Congress needs to make it illegal for terror suspects who are on the “no-fly” list to be able to buy a gun.

Although Obama reiterated that Congress should authorize the continued use of military force against terror organizations, such as ISIS, he does not support the U.S. entering a ground war.


radicalization — a process by which an individual or group comes to adopt increasingly extreme political, social or religious ideals and aspirations

counterterrorism — political or military activities designed to prevent or thwart terrorism

semiautomatic weapon — guns with rapid-fire capability that automatically reload each time the trigger is pulled

Warm up questions
  1. How is terrorism different from other acts of violence?
  2. What should be done to combat terrorism and mass shootings?
  3. What is the Islamic State or ISIS?
Critical thinking questions
  1. This speech was only the third time President Barack Obama spoke from the Oval Office in a televised address. Why do you think he chose to address the country this way in this instance?
  2. What is the President’s reasoning for not launching a ground invasion into areas occupied by ISIS and instead focusing on airstrikes?
  3. Why do you think the President continues to emphasize the point that “ISIS is not Islamic?”
  4. Why, according to President Obama, do groups such as ISIS want Western countries like the U.S. to turn against Muslim citizens?
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