Monday, August 21, 2006

If He Only Had No Brain

For an example of the type of mistakes that can, even in small part, impact our effort to combat the spread and appeal of radical Islamist terrorism that I addressed earlier, Spencer Ackerman gives us some advice on the efficacy of rhetoric:

I spent the last week in Dearborn, Michigan, home of the largest and oldest Muslim community in the United States, and I have a news flash: President Bush's recent formulation of the enemy in the war on terrorism as "Islamic Fascism," or, as it's more often known, "Islamofascism," is extremely offensive here. [...]

Last week in the Weekly Standard, the apparent inventor of the phrase, Stephen Schwartz, dismissed those who'd be offended by "Islamofascism" as "primitive Muslims". That should tell you all you need to know about those who use the term....The people it infuriates aren't primitive. They're the moderate, pro-American, well-integrated Muslims who form one of the greatest bulwarks against Al Qaeda that the U.S. possesses, and they see the term as draining their Americanness away.

And for what? For a dubious linkage to a much different historical phenomenon? It doesn't diminish the crimes of the Taliban to observe that a Nazi would find Taliban-ruled Afghanistan unrecognizable. "Islamofascism" merely strokes an erogenous zone of the right wing, which gains pleasure from a juvenile reductio ad Hitlerum with the enemies of the U.S.

"Reductio ad Hitlerum." Priceless.

But seriously, what we're talking about here is low-reward, high-cost behavior on the part of the Bush administration and its ideological allies. Alienating moderate American Muslims for little more than a self-satisfying analogy. Retiring this phrase should be a no-brainer. Even for Bush's brain.

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