Sunday, September 24, 2006

Naming the evildoers

This NY Times SHERYL GAY STOLBERG op-ed by Sheryl Gay Stolberg struggles with finding a good term for Mohammedans who support terrorism.
SHORTLY after terrorists attacked the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, President Bush's speechwriters began grappling with a linguistic puzzle: What to call the enemy? In the five years since, Mr. Bush has road-tested an array of terms: evildoers, jihadists, Islamic extremists, even "Al Qaeda suiciders."

But no phrase has crashed and burned as fast as the president's most recent entry into the foreign policy lexicon: Islamic fascists, or, Islamo-fascism. ...

David Frum, a former speechwriter for Mr. Bush, said the president turned to "evildoers" right after Sept. 11, 2001, in part because it translated well in Arabic and in part because it appeared in Psalm 27, which Mr. Frum says is one of the president?s favorite psalms. ("When evildoers came upon me to devour my flesh.")

But evildoers has a kind of comic-book sound, and in any event, Mr. Frum says, it isn't specific enough. He suggests Mr. Bush find an Arabic phrase to popularize ? so long as it does not involve the word jihad, a term with a negative connotation in the United States, but positive overtones in the Muslim world.

Peter Beinart, the editor at large of The New Republic, has his own solution: "jihadi salafi," which he loosely translates as "someone who would use violence, and ultimately state violence, to bring about a utopian vision of Islam." So what if no one knows what it means.
Michael Medved prefers "Islamo-Nazi", because of the way that they want to exterminate the Jews. But that term also suffers from sounding like a comic-book epithet.

All of these terms have problems. It is impossible to choose a term that is both accurate and inoffensive. There are many millions of Mohammedans who believe ina terrorist Jihad, and that Koran 9:6 instructs them to kill infidels.

I say that if there are Mohammedans who don't believe in a violent jihad against infidels, then let them come up with terminology that distinguishes them.

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