Language Reveals Denial

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The following is an excerpt from Daniel Pipes' Still Asleep After Mumbai:

The fact that terrorist fish are swimming in a hospitable Muslim sea nearly disappears amidst Western political, journalistic, and academic bleatings. Call it political correctness, multiculturalism, or self-loathing; whatever the name, this mentality produces delusion and dithering.

Nomenclature lays bare this denial. When a sole jihadist strikes, politicians, law enforcement, and media join forces to deny even the fact of terrorism; and when all must concede the terrorist nature of an attack, as in Mumbai, a pedantic establishment twists itself into knots to avoid blaming terrorists.

I documented this avoidance by listing the twenty (!) euphemisms the press unearthed to describe Islamists who attacked a school in Beslan in 2004: activists, assailants, attackers, bombers, captors, commandos, criminals, extremists, fighters, group, guerrillas, gunmen, hostage-takers, insurgents, kidnappers, militants, perpetrators, radicals, rebels, and separatists – anything but terrorists.

And if terrorist is impolite, adjectives such as Islamist, Islamic, and Muslim become unmentionable. My blog titled "Not Calling Islamism the Enemy" provides copious examples of this avoidance, along with its motives. In short, those who would replace War on Terror with A Global Struggle for Security and Progress imagine this linguistic gambit will win over Muslim hearts and minds.

Post-Mumbai, Steven Emerson, Don Feder, Lela Gilbert, Caroline Glick, Tom Gross, William Kristol, Dorothy Rabinowitz, and Mark Steyn again noted various aspects of this futile linguistic behavior, with Emerson bitterly concluding that "After more than 7 years since 9/11, we can now issue a verdict: Islamic terrorists have won our hearts and minds."

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