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Evading the I-word

The Washington Times on Friday has an interesting story about the Obama administration's assiduous avoidance of the terms "Islam," "Islamic" and "Islamist" in two studies of the threat  from terrorists. I know: Consider the source. Conservatives have been railing forever about President Obama's aversion to calling a Muslim a Muslim in discussions of the war on terror. But it's still a fascinating factoid.

I think terms like "Islamofascism" are ahistorical as well as inflammatory. All analogies limp, including the comparison George W. Bush tried to draw between Osama bin Laden and Hitler. It's also true that we are not at war against Islam and that the omission of "Islamic" from official descriptions of terrorist isn't at all misleading. We know who's being talked about, and they aren't Catholics or Scientologists.

Moreover, there is danger of giving aid and comfort to patriotic Americans like the evangelist Franklin Graham, who once said:   "The God of Islam is not the same God of the Christian or the Judeo-Christian faith. It is a different God, and I believe a very evil and a very wicked religion." (He later "clarified" his position in a statement that suggested that some of his best friends were Muslims!)

Still,  there ought to a way to acknowledge that the fundamentalism that drives the terrorists we're most afraid of is Islamic fundamentalism -- without encouraging the notion that Islam is the enemy or that most Muslims are terrorists or terrorist sympathizers. If nothing else, it would silence conservatives who insist that Obama is clueless about the war on terror.

--Michael McGough

 

Comments () | Archives (10)

The comments to this entry are closed.

Lambie

Michael, you wrote: " ... evangelist Franklin Graham, who once said: The God of Islam is not the same God of the Christian or the Judeo-Christian faith. It is a different God ... "


So you are saying that it is unpatriotic, or overly patriotic, or inflammatory, or ignorant, or some such thing to state that the God of Islam is not the same as the God of the Judeo-Christisan faith?

Stephen

Time to call a spade a spade.

Michael McGough

Graham went beyond saying that the God of Islam is a different God from that worshiped by Jews and Christians. Read the whole quotation.

andrew nelson

In the 1993 Foreign Affairs article, political scientist Samuel P. HuntingtonHuntington writes:

"It is my hypothesis that the fundamental source of conflict in this new world will not be primarily ideological or primarily economic. The great divisions among humankind and the dominating source of conflict will be cultural. Nation states will remain the most powerful actors in world affairs, but the principal conflicts of global politics will occur between nations and groups of different civilizations. The clash of civilizations will dominate global politics. The fault lines between civilizations will be the battle lines of the future."

The definition, nomenclature, and even the number of civilizations are somewhat ambiguous in Huntington's works. Civilizations may consist of states and social groups (such as ethnic and religious minorities). Predominant religion seems to be the main criterion of his classification, but in some cases geographical proximity and linguistic similarity are important as well. Using various studies of history, Huntington divided the world into the "major" civilizations in his thesis.

The Muslim civilization is defined as the Greater Middle East (excluding Armenia, Cyprus, Ethiopia, Georgia, Greece, Israel, Kazakhstan, Malta, and Sudan), northern West Africa, Albania, Bangladesh, Brunei, Comoros, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, and Maldives.

Huntington identifies a major shift of economic, military, and political power from the West to the other civilizations of the world, most significantly to what he identifies as the two "challenger civilizations", Sinic and Islam.

Huntington argues that the Islamic civilization has experienced a massive population explosion which is fueling instability both on the borders of Islam and in its interior, where fundamentalist movements are becoming increasingly popular. Manifestations of what he terms the "Islamic Resurgence" include the 1979 Iranian revolution and the first Gulf War.

Perhaps the most controversial statement Huntington made in the Foreign Affairs article was that "Islam has bloody borders". Huntington believes this to be a real consequence of several factors, including the previously mentioned Muslim youth bulge and population growth and Islamic proximity to many civilizations including Sinic, Orthodox, Western, and African.

Huntington sees Islamic civilization as a potential ally to China, both having more revisionist goals and sharing common conflicts with other civilizations, especially the West. Specifically, he identifies common Chinese and Islamic interests in the areas of weapons proliferation, human rights, and democracy that conflict with those of the West, and feels that these are areas in which the two civilizations will cooperate.

Obama is merely continuing a Bush policy, which is to wage war on the violent elements of the Islamic civilization, while trying to keep the rest of it out of the fight, and keeping China from allying with it.

Lisa

Could we consider the possibility that even though Islam is a religion we are still allowed to criticize it, even harshly?

Islam treats women as less than human yet we are supposed to pretend it is a great religion. Yet Muslim women are killed for dating the wrong boy, for looking at the wrong boy, for 'immodesty' (as defined by men), for disobediance, for the sin of being raped, for daring to go to school. Muslim women are often forced to cover themselves from head to toe to protect their 'modesty' and turn themselves into inhuman ghosts.

GordonSantaMonica

Be careful what you ask for. Over history we have seen that fundamentalist religions of all kinds have been involved with wars around our world. We have fundamentalist religions in our own country that dislike each other and are just a step short of having their own wars within our own country. So when we talk about the fundamentalist beliefs of Islam whose Fundamentalist belief will we attack next? Be real careful what you ask for because your fundamentalist beliefs could be challenged next.

andrew nelson

There are some fundamental differences for which there can be no accomodations nor compromise. "We hold these truths to be self-evident" is a declaration and a challenge. Declarations and challenges will be answered from time to time with bloody violent response. The question is, whether we will continue to believe these self-evident truths, whether we champion them in front of the global community, and whether it is worth the risks to do so.

STeve the Right Thinker

Why is Islamofascism any different, really, from NaziISM. The former reflects the fascist drive of Islamists, and the left's refusal to "call a spade a spade" is the root of the problem. Political correctness run amok, and that is why many writers -- not just the Washington Times -- essentially mock the Obama administration: It fails to directly confront issues.

Hiding your head in the sand does not make the threat go away in the case of Islam. Wake up, pansies!

contraryjim

Religion and rational thought can't co-exist. Religions usually don't wish to share the market and so denigrate each other. They are faith based and so are beyond objective analysis - it would be nice to let them fight it out but the collateral damage would be horrific.

Hindu

To see what's coming to this beautiful country go to faithfreedomDOTorg.


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