June 4, 2008
Would a Jihadi by Any Other Name Smell as Foul?
The terminology we use to describe our enemy in the war on terror matters a lot. A spirited debate is underway among specialists and in the press. An op-ed published Monday in the New York Times entitled "What do you call a Terror(Jihad)ist?", by P.W. Singer and Elina Noor, attempts to defend the recent State Department memo advising government personal to refrain from using theologically-laden terms-"jihadi," "mujahidin," "caliphate," "Islamo-fascism," "salafi," "wahhabi," "ummah"-when describing Islamic radicals and their motives. Instead, generics-"terrorists," "extremists"-should suffice.The article begins by making a highly flawed analogy. It suggests that when a U.S. president labels al-Qaeda-type radicals "jihadists," that that is akin to referring to Adolf Hitler as "the leader of the National Socialist Aryan patriots." Aside from the need for...(Read Full Article)