Friday, August 11, 2006

The Language Keeps On Bitin'

A very strange complaint has been made by some Muslims in the Los Angeles area. For the full story, see "Muslims Upset by Bush's Remarks" in The Los Angeles Times, August 11, 2006.

Attributed to Edina Lekovic, identified as communications director the the Muslim Public Affairs council in Los Angeles, the money quote: Suggesting there is [something Islamic about fascism] only over-politicizes things in a way that does not accurately describe the criminal adversaries we face at the moment." She added: "It would have been far more accurate had he linked the situation to a segment of people rather than an entire faith, along the lines of, say, radical Muslim fascists.'"

Could we take a moment and look at the difference between "Islamic fascists" (Bush's phrasing) and "radical Muslim fascists?"

It isn't clear just why Ms Lekovic feels adding radical and changing Islamic to Muslim would be less upsetting. Isn't the noun fascist? Isn't the key word fascist? The adjectives merely color the noun.

Is Ms Lekovic stipulating there is an element of fascism in Muslims? Oughtn't she have issued a statement which did not use any form of fascism at all?

Later in the article this is attributed to Paravez Ahmet, board chairman of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, "The use of ill-defined hot-button terms such as 'Islamic fascists,' 'militant jihadism,' 'Islamic radicalism' or 'totalitarian Islamic empire' harms our nation's image and interests worldwide, particularly in the Islamic world."

If these phrases somehow upset, it behooves both parties to explain why they are upsetting and why they are in common use. Where in the Islamic religion are non-Muslims able to discern a danger? Where in the Islamic religion is there evidence the danger does not exist?

If American Muslims, or Muslims world-wide for that matter, are upset over the language used in discussions about the war on terror, they should engage in clarification and outreach. They should reassure their fellow non-Islamic citizens that the perception that Islamists are determined to convert the entire world to their religion is either an erroneous interpretation or has been superseded.

Moderate Christians and Jews have done this; moderate Muslims must do this.

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