Sebastian Gorka, deputy assistant to President Donald Trump, said Tuesday on MSNBC that not calling the current terrorist threat "radical Islamic terrorism" is akin to misdiagnosing cancer as simply the flu.
MSNBC hosts Ali Velshi and Stephanie Ruhle asked Gorka about his strategy for countering "extremist inspired attacks" and "attackers in the West."
"Well, first things first, it jettisons the political correctness of the last eight years," Gorka said. "And we call the enemy for what it is."
"You cannot solve a problem unless you are allowed to talk truthfully about it, so we will call it radical Islamic terrorism," he added. "We will target the ideology, and we will call them out for being evil and we will work with our Muslim partners."
Velshi asked how calling the threat a different name actually helps to combat terrorist attacks.
"So if you, God forbid, got cancer and the hospital was forbidden from calling it cancer and said, ‘You have the flu, go home and hydrate and take some aspirins,' would you actually have the right treatment?" Gorka responded.
"No, but there's still no cure for cancer," Ruhle followed up.
"Sorry, but have you not heard of chemo?" Gorka asked.
"I have heard of chemo, and cancer can still kill you," Ruhle said. "So it doesn't matter what you call it."
"It doesn't matter what you call it?" Gorka said. "Really? So if I call it the flu and say, ‘Go home and take some aspirin,' what's going to happen to you?"
Velshi came in and said there had to be a better way to answer the "very straightforward question" he asked.
"I gave you a very simple answer," Gorka said. "If you misdiagnose anything, whether it's a serious disease or an international geopolitical threat, you will never solve it. For the last eight years we've had an administration that would say, ‘Oh, it's economic, all these people are disenfranchised.'"
Gorka said that it was not about economics or any other factor other than the fact that terrorists "have an ideology that is evil and has to be destroyed."
He added that Trump believes invading other people's countries and occupying them is fundamentally un-American and not what the White House is setting out to do in its strategy.
"We are here to help those nations that share our values and share our interests and help them fight the fight," Gorka said. "Whether it's the Iraqis and Kurds in Iraq, whether it's the Egyptians in the Sinai, or whether it's our European allies that now have to deal with this very severe threat to their own countries."
Velshi tried to clarify his question by asking what the White House would do with people who are committing terrorist attacks that are inspired by "lone wolves," versus those individuals who are operationally guided by the Islamic State.
"We don't have to get into a definitional argument here. What do you actually do to fight that?" Velshi asked.
"To get the lone wolf lunatics," Ruhle added.
"There's no such thing as a ‘lone wolf,'" Gorka said. "You do know that was a phrase invented by the last administration to make Americans stupid."
He said that these individuals and groups are connected in at least one way or another, whether through ideology, tactics and training, or the techniques and procedures that are shared over the Internet.
"There has never been a serious attack or a serious plot unconnected from ISIS or al-Qaeda … never happened, it's bogus. This is an international, global threat," Gorka said.
Gorka explained that the next step that needs to be taken is to delegitimize the jihadist ideology so it will become as "heinous and rejected as fascism and nazis."
"That black flag of ISIS has to be globally rejected like the swastika, and we will work with our Muslim partners to overtly and covertly delegitimize their message," Gorka said.
"That's the definition of victory: when people don't want to become jihadis, that's when we've won," he said.