Words have symbolic value, words are important. If that wasn't so, why then would a certain religion take offense when Westerns use the word "Jihad" or link Jihad to the word terrorist? Why has someone created the dishonest word, "Islamophobia," which has been give a meaning that doesn't relate to the sum of its parts - "Islamo" + "phobia," an extreme irrational fear or aversion to something?
In fact, the U.S. government now has removed the use of "Jihad," "Jihadist," "Jihadi," or anything similar from the official lexicon. Many horrified experts and self-schooled bloggers have labelled this insane policy: dhimmitude. Jeffrey Imm at Counterterrorism Blog:"The Continuing Debate Over 'Jihadists' as the Enemy."
Last week, the Associated Press reported that the State Department approved National Counter Terrorism Center (NCTC) guidelines for terminology in defining the enemy created by NCTC's Extremist Messaging Branch, based on a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) report "Terminology to Define the Terrorists: Recommendations from American Muslims". In these new guidelines, the term "jihadist" (among others) was not to be used in defining the enemy or its actions.
But this week, it is apparent that these new guidelines are not being reflected in the State Department annual terrorist report and in comments from President Bush.
In the April 2008 State Department Country Reports on Terrorism 2007 released today, anyone can clearly see the use of the terms "jihad", "jihadist", "jihadi", "mujahedin / mujahadin", "caliphate", "Islamist" -- as nouns describing enemy terrorist activity and ideology (not just in the titles of Jihadist groups' names).
Such usage can been easily found in the Microsoft Word version of the State Department report:
- "jihad": pages 63, 75, 81, 107, 126, 127, 174, 187, 272
- "jihadi(s)": pages 10, 93, 94, 103, 107, 122
- "jihadist": pages 116, 117, 120, 121
- "Islamist": pages 17, 52, 62, 75, 87, 93, 95, 122, 188, 271, 291
These references are clearly describing State Department counterterrorist analyst descriptions of enemy terrorist individuals, activity, and ideology. For example, such phrases in the annual State Department terror report as: "promoting jihad and recruiting potential suicide bombers" (p. 75), "a recruitment network for foreign jihadis" (p. 93), "recruiting jihadists to fight" (p. 117), "numerous cells dedicated to sending Jihadi fighters" (p. 122), "AQ leadership has called for jihad against UN forces" (p. 174) -- don't sound like a view of "jihad" as a "spiritual struggle".
Moreover, in President Bush's April 28 press conference, he referred to the enemy as "jihadists" - to an assembled press corps that never asked him a single question about the remark.
In last week's reported NCTC memorandum and DHS report on the proper terminology in describing the enemy, the NCTC is quoted stating that "[n]ever use the terms 'jihadist' or 'mujahedeen' in conversation to describe the terrorists...calling our enemies 'jihadis' and their movement a global 'jihad' unintentionally legitimizes their actions." As described in last week's article on this subject, I pointed out that this viewpoint challenges many of the key passages in the 9/11 Commission Report.
Does the NCTC and DHS now think that the State Department and President Bush are "legitimizing" the actions of the enemy by using such terms?
Imm goes on at length to give his opinion of the apparent stupidity demonstrated at the State Department, the White House, the Department of Homeland Security, and the NCTC.
Perhaps they were encouraged by the new "Islamophia Observatory" created by the Organization of the Islamic Conference that is hoping to "improve the image of Islam" and "eliminate the worldwide waves of fear of Islam."
İhsanoğlu cited the commonsensical intellectual reaction of the Danish public following cartoons published in the country that were critical of Islam as one of the important successes of the project. "We presented a report on Islamophobia at the first summit we held with the CEOs and civil society organizations we are in touch with. It has sparked very positive reactions and spread across Europe in a short time. Publications have praised the initiative. We have seen both support of and opposition to the initiative, but [all in all] it has created very positive reactions," he said. İhsanoğlu visited the Zaman Media Group on Thursday and briefed editors and columnists on OIC projects. Stating that the foremost target was to eradicate prejudice and fear of Islam, İhsanoğlu noted that there were groups in favor of the projects and also those disturbed by them. An OIC report on Islamophobia has seriously disconcerted Americans and Europeans, he said, adding: "The report has started to pay off.
That's an understatement!
The Global Report gives analysis: "DHS Memo Supports Muslim Brotherhood Influence Over U.S. Counter-Terrorism Language." (Global Report Requires Registration)
Here is a link to the DHS memo "urging" employees not to use the terms as the policy is "based on 'recommendations from a wide variety of American Muslim leaders" and originated in a meeting with 'influential Muslim Americans:' "
A June 2007 article in a San Francisco newspaper appears to identify the four Muslim Americans as:
* Akbar Ahmed, former ambassador from Pakistan
* Reza Aslan, author
* M.J. Kahn, Houston City Councilman
* Shahed Amanullah, Austin Texas blogger
The key influence here is likely Akbar Ahmed, a board member of the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy (CSID), an organization with many links to the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood.
It should also be noted that since 2004, DHS and Secretary Chertoff have enjoyed seemingly cordial relations with the Muslim Public Affair Council (MPAC), a part of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood. Examples include a meeting with MPAC leader Salman Al-Marayati, allowing DHS officials to appear with MPAC at various events, and a joint news conference following a foiled terror plot. MPAC also reports being a member of the DHS Incident Management Team. Only five weeks before the meeting in question, an MPAC foundation board member organized a dinner for Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and 50 members of the Muslim and Arab American communities in the Detroit metropolitan area. Since its inception, MPAC has has taken the lead role among the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood organizations in attempting to control the use of language along the lines proposed in the DHS report.
Jeffrey Breinholt at Counteterrorism Blog deconstructs Islamophibia:
There was a hilarious item on the GMBDR, though I am not sure anyone will find it as funny as I do. It turns out UC Berkeley hosted a conference entitled "Deconstructing Islamaphobia." While the intellectually curious rely on the Counterterrorism Blog and other open-source news sources for partial insight into counterterrorism developments around the world, a group of people was going to try to "deconstruct" the irrational fear of Muslims.
The reason why this gave me the giggles is because "deconstruction" is such an elusive notion that it seems to escape even its practioners, or at least the organizers of this conference. Throwing in Islamaphobia, CAIR, and the most self-consciously radical university in the country, and wild, madcapped, zany antics were bound to ensue.
Deconstruction is a form of literary criticism originating in France that took off in the sixties, designed to render great works meaningless. You know its practitioners. They are the indeciherable professors at various multicultural "studies" departments who argue that there's no such thing as a true fact. They talk in terms of "discourse" and "narratives" to give support for their pet theories, irrespective of historical accuracy. Is Ward Churchill not really a Native American? Doesn't matter, because his narrative makes the plight of the American Indian part of his personal discourse. Too bad for him that academic rigor remains a demonstrable phenomenon in some circles. When his academic writings were finallly scrutinized by people capable of practicing professional standards, he lost his university job. Still, he's free to man the barricades. My bet is that he was at Berkeley, deconstructing away.
What the conference organizers might not have realized is that the goal of deconstruction is to demolish texts and render them worthless. What if the texts are put forward as examples of Islamaphobia? Presumably, deconstruction would show that Islamaphobia does not really exist. This would leave some very disappointed Muslim-American activists.
Here's my attempt at deconstruction, to show how it is done. Remember the Brady Bunch? What did we know about them? It was a story about a man named Brady, who was busy with three boys of his own. They were four men, living altogether, yet they were all alone.
Let's look at the text. How can one be living with three other people, yet be all alone? That makes the Brady Bunch theme song internally inconsistent. There are two possibilities: either the Brady Bunch does not exist, since its theme song yields a philiosophical inconsistency, or, in the Brady men's narrative, they would never be considered whole unless there were females (woMen) in the house to clean up after them. If the latter, than the Brady Bunch creators believed that men must be entitled to enslave females (woMen). Thank Heavenly Mother we have moved well beyond the paternalistic, sexist construct in postmodern America.
Either possibility renders the Brady Bunch worthless as an art form. In fact, it might as well not exist as a phenomenon. Those reruns you still see? The television screen might as well be a test pattern.
I am sure that Islamaphobia does exist in some circles, and that it will remain irrespective of efforts to "deconstruct" it. I also bet that the Berkeley conference included people who argued that 9/11 was not committed by al Qaida, and that the Holocaust never occurred. I am sure plenty of well-known American commentators and politicians were characterized as racist. There were plenty of references to Edward Said. It was undoubtedly good fun. Had I known about it beforehand, I would have tried to attend. After all, that's what I do - masquerade as an academic. I would have come up with a good paper topic. Something like "Terrorism as Coping: A Rational Cry For Help from the Suffering Peoples of the World in the Age of the Amerikan Empire."
Criticism of Islam and the behavior of Muslims will continue as long as the First Amendment has not been abrogated by an act of Congress or reinterpreted by the Supreme Court. Look for pressure from "influential Muslims" and useful fools accomplish this goal.
And we all need to be reminded of this as Islamism is a world-wide movement. Views of prominent clerics resonate with Muslims everywhere, including the United States. (Hattip: JihadWatch)