None Dare Call It Islamism

Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam. He is completing a book on the international challenges America faces in the 21st century.


The Associated Press, after putting up a brief defense of the English language, ceded the term “gay marriage,” then “illegal immigrant” and finally “Islamist.” The left has a long history with political language and the media, so these latest triumphs were only a matter of time.

“Don’t tell me words don’t matter,” Obama once said, while insisting that they meant the opposite of what we thought they meant. The left believes that words matter because they allow people to communicate the wrong sort of ideas. Change the words and you change the ideas.

Islamism is one of those ideas. The idea is that people ought to live under Islam. This was thought to be a bad idea, back in those dark days before we learned that Islamism is as American as Mom, Other Mom and Apple Pie.

Now we know that Islamism is actually the best defense against Islamism so long as it’s the good kind of Islamism that involves terrorist groups winning elections and shooting their people in the streets instead of the bad kind of Islamism which involves terrorist groups shooting people in the streets without first running for office.

The Muslim Brotherhood used to be the bad kind of Islamists that set off bombs and shot people in the streets, but then they disavowed violence, ran for office, shredded what was left of the law and began torturing and killing their opponents who protested the shredding.

Opponents of Islamism, the word not the idea, warn that if we associate Islamism with Islamist terrorist groups, then Muslims will get the idea that Al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood are the same thing. The only argument that they present in favor of them not being the same thing is that the media always calls the Muslim Brotherhood a moderate group. And if they’re a moderate group, they clearly can’t be torturing and killing their opponents, even if the same news stories that call them moderate also report that they are torturing and killing their opponents.

In Syria, the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda are fighting side by side as the Free Syrian Army and the Al Nusra Front. The Free Syrian Army is moderate and secular, which is to say that it’s now dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood which is neither moderate nor secular, but which we support, while the Al Nusra Front is an Islamist group we oppose. Unfortunately the moderate and secular Free Syrian Army refuses to disavow the Al Nusra Front and fights alongside them. The only possible conclusion that our media should draw from this is that Al Qaeda is the very model of a moderate secular organization.

Back when we were bombing moderate secular militants in the hills of Afghanistan, it was determined that we should delink Islam from terrorism by insisting that they have nothing in common. With this strategy it was thought that we would convince potential Al Qaeda supporters to go off and support a more proper Islamic cause like the International Islamic Relief Organization, the Global Relief Foundation and the Benevolence International Foundation. Unfortunately all of those also turned out to be fronts for Al Qaeda.

Having done our best to avoid giving Muslims the impression that Islam has anything to do with terrorism on the theory that if we believe something stupid, they will believe it too, we are now working to deny any links between Islamism and Islamist terrorism on the theory that most Muslims are as stupid and illiterate as John Brennan and John Kerry think that they are.

Islamist refers to an organization which believes in imposing Islamic law on a society. This is also known as Islam. While such organizations can function non-violently, so can many Communist and Nazi parties until they come to power. The daily violence in Egypt reminds us that there is no such thing as the non-violent imposition of a system that disenfranchises a sizable portion of the population and destroys the civil rights of all the rest.

The AP’s linguistic attack is meant to distinguish between political Islamists and armed Islamists; but if Islamist refers to the goal of making Islam into the political and legal system of a country, what basis is there for distinguishing between the two?

The Muslim Brotherhood is political in Egypt, but in Syria it’s conducting a war to take over the country. If we use the AP’s labeling process, then the Muslim Brotherhood is Islamist when it is in Egypt, but stops being Islamist in Gaza where it’s Hamas or in Syria where it’s the Tawhid Brigade. When the Muslim Brotherhood set off bombs and carried out assassinations, then it was not Islamist, but when it ran for office then it became Islamist.

If the same organization can be Islamist or not be Islamist through the expedient of changing its tactics rather than its beliefs, then the AP is abusing Islamist to mean democratic or non-violent.

Islamism refers to the ends, rather than the means. By making the term conditional on the means, the AP is rendering the term meaningless. An Islamist can build bombs or run for office. Neither defines him. The Muslim Brotherhood’s diverse range of front groups and franchises show that a single movement with a common end can utilize different means.

A Communist was not defined by whether he chose to run for office or set off bombs. Either way he was a Communist. Would the AP say that a Neo-Nazi is less or more of a Neo-Nazi if he runs for his local council, rather than shooting up a house? Such is its redefinition of Islamist to mean someone who runs for office, after building bombs and with the caveat that if he doesn’t win the election, then it’s back to building bombs.

The AP’s redefinition of Islamism to exclude Islamist terrorists eliminates an entire category of terrorists. It doesn’t enhance meaning; instead it vandalizes it in another futile attempt to confuse the issue.

The new Stylebook definition insists that terrorist groups should be identified individually, and that’s true, but they should also be identified by contextualizing them within a larger trend. The redefinition eliminates the category and hopes thereby that no one will notice that the trend exists. Over a decade after September 11 this hope is badly misplaced.

Individual terrorist groups can be localized by two sets of coordinates; tactical and ideological. The tactical coordinate of Al Qaeda is terrorism. Its ideological coordinate is Islamism. Terrorism is a general category into which countless terrorist groups fit. It tells us nothing about why the group does what it does. It only tells us that it does it. It is the second ideological coordinate that gives it a more specific category and context.

By stripping away this second category, the AP Stylebook removes the context and the specific category akin to relabeling the Housewares aisle as “Objects”. It’s not false, but it removes the specific contextual information leaving a general category that is so vague as to be meaningless.

Vague and meaningless are the usual approaches that the United States has taken when talking about Islamic terrorism. Politicians do it with the unease of a father forced to discuss the birds and bees with his teenage son. The media take refuge in very vague generalities about extremism, a category that is even wider and more meaningless than terrorism.

Some of this vagueness is ignorance, but much of it is a deliberate strategy of self-censorship. The latest redefinition of Islamism is a typical example of self-censorship that trades vagueness for meaning and decontextualizes a story for political reasons.

The media has spent a great deal of time talking about Islamic terrorist groups as extremist and militant, but has avoided dealing with what they actually believe and what their goals are. Refusing to describe them as Islamist continues a hopeless propaganda strategy designed to fool Muslims and Americans while fooling absolutely no one.

Freedom Center pamphlets now available on Kindle: Click here.  

  • Michael Copeland

    “Violence is the heart of Islam.”
    “We must wipe away the shameful stain whereby some people imagine that violence has no place in Islam..”
    Ayatollah Yazdi – Senior Advisor to Ahmadinejad http://www.VladTepesblog.com 18 Jan 2o12

  • Michael Copeland

    They heave and pull and stretch a words to make them mean what they do not mean, and then they say, “There you are. It fits.”

  • Michael Copeland

    “Please, Sir, may I go to the euphemism?”

  • White Hunter

    Interestingly, I've never seen any news story or heard any Obammunist or State Department flack mention that the "secular," "moderate" Muslim Brotherhood — our newfound good friends — is the same Muslim Brotherhood that assassinated Anwar Sadat for signing a peace treaty with Israel. Or is the M.B. more "secular" and "moderate" now than they were then? Or did the assassins merely "misunderstand" the M.B.'s platform?

    • defcon 4

      I've always wondered how meaningless the peace treaty with Egypt really was. Egypt was defeated soundly by Israel, Israel held the Sinai and yet gave it all up to an islamofascist state for "peace". A peace in which terrorist attacks continued unabated. Is that all Israel got out of giving up the Sinai a second time?

  • WilliamJamesWard

    "Decontextualizing a story for political reasons", I think it is decontextualized for money, moolah,
    green backs, cashola, these people are sellouts or maybe they are part of the organized effort
    to control the world with totalitarianism. UPI has become the identifying mark of what not to
    bother reading, it is always misinforming with lies and blatant distortions. Islam means death
    to you and what you believe unless you bow down to thier absolutism and join the bloody
    chorus of barbarians. Muslim Brotherhood=Death to America, Islamism=Death to America,
    Obama=Death to America, not to hard to piece together……….We face ruin but this is not
    identified and does not have the attention of America, oops! missing the ballgame…….William

  • Edward Cline

    "Having done our best to avoid giving Muslims the impression that Islam has anything to do with terrorism on the theory that if we believe something stupid, they will believe it too, we are now working to deny any links between Islamism and Islamist terrorism on the theory that most Muslims are as stupid and illiterate as John Brennan and John Kerry think that they are." Daniel, you missed the chance for a great punch line here. "Or are as stupid and illiterate as John Brennan and John Kerry."

    • defcon 4

      John Brennan is reportedly a muslime.

  • Brujo Blanco

    If we are not permitted to identify a.problem then we can do nothing about it.

  • historyscoper

    It's too bad for AP that they don't control the U.S. military or they'd likely hand over all their weapons to the Islamists too :)

    So what if AP's PC mania has emasculated it? Who needs them in the Age of the Internet? They're just another blog in a sea of blogs that we can take or leave.

    Speaking of blogs, the blog of blogs to watch global Islam contains daily links to all blog articles even AP's:
    http://tinyurl.com/islamwatchblog

  • Charles Martel

    Being very basic, I wonder: Why are we getting all ruffled up about this blessing in disguise?

    Now instead of using that ridiculous euphemism, we can use the real name given to the followers of the Satanic pedophile: MUSLIMS!

    There is no Islamism. There is ISLAM. There are no Islamists. There are MUSLIMS. The sooner we agree on that, the better.

    • Viking

      Yes, it really is that simple.

  • logdon

    The term Islamist was coined as a politically correct separator from the so called 'moderates' and the so called 'fundamentalists'.

    Having gained that concession CAIR has now applied pressure on AP to ditch even that get out, and AP when asked to jump merely replied, how high?

    However as Turkish PM, Recep Erdegun says, 'there is no moderate Islam' and who better? He is Obama's bestest Muslim buddy, after all.

    So from now on do we take Erdegun at his word and assume the permitted word, Muslim to mean extremist?

    CAIR in their deviousness are creating the perfect storm of backlash. Is anyone up to it?

    • Drakken

      CAIR and their phycophants have already created enough hate and resentment in govt offices and sooner or later there will be a night of the long knifes when the time comes.

      • defcon 4

        But who will be the victims? The Night of the Long Knives was committed by Nazis against lesser Nazis (such as the SA).

  • LindaRivera

    Rather than calling them Islamists, a much better description is: Islamo Fascists or Islamo Nazis.

  • BLJ

    Islam = Evil

    Simple and easy to remember.

  • Guest

    Another brilliant article from Daniel, but how many will read it? Instead, the vast majority of the population is being fed a daily dose of silliness and untruths by our MSM and entertainment complex, making them uninformed, incurious and sedated.

  • fransg53

    Excellent article as allways, but why not going all the way?
    Stop using the word islam too and return to the correct word 'muhammedanism'.
    It automatically focuses on the achilles heel: Allah has no message, only a messenger.

    (I explain it in my essay: Islamophobia, Defying the Battle Cry, an Amazon-ebook)

  • FrontPgSubscr

    -sounds like a 'take-off' on John A. Stormer's 1990-1992 book, "None
    Dare Call it Treason … 25 Years Later" which details the collaboration,
    even appeasement, of communism throughout, yes, the 50s, the 60s,
    70s, and later … even of such 'governmental shennanigans' during
    the Reagan administration. Mr. Greenfield's intent, I think, is to imply
    the same thing by his short article on Islam. It would seem to be that
    Islam is more a tool being used by the elitists ('powers that be') to deflect
    attention from the 'other agendas' in their repertoire.

  • kafir4life

    I've heard that cair members are muslims. I've heard that muslim follow allah the made up moon god invented by the pedophile mohamat. I've heard that mohamat also shat the contents of the terrorist's guide, the koran….in feces….in arabic….in the sand……and got some on his feet…….that his followers ate with gusto……
    They're islamist terrorist supporters too from what I've been told.

  • Horace

    Islamism brough to you by: LIBERALISM – Liberalism defined: Engagement in totally unreal and destructive economic systems like borrowing the money from China to support wasters in our society. Tolerance(support of and unwillingness to be aware of and denial of complicity in): Islam),(Propaganda, Total intolerance of other religions, Beheadings, Crucifixions, Dismemberment, Rape, Murder, Lies,) Communism.(Propaganda, Mass murder of your population,(Mao, Stalin, Ceauscescu, etc.), mass graves, gulags, psychological imprisonment, starvation, destruction of the means of production, doublespeak, Lies)

  • Horace

    Islamism needs "Gun Control",(disarmament of the good guys, and armament of the bad guys, elimination of the power of the people, dismemberment of the militia – the free people of the USA armed and able to defend themselves from evil totalitarianism, whether Colonialism, Communist or Islamo-nazi Presidents(Obama) and selling out and fronting for our destruction, and their Auschwitz style oven stokers and corrupt cops, or just racist mobs, or neighborhood thieves and rapists) Atheism,( morons imagining that the order in the universe and on earth is just a random alignment, like the proverbial monkeys typing for eternity and finally producing the complete works of Shakespeare), Lies,(What else can I say Obama, Obama, Obama, Lies, Lies, Lies. All evil. Supported by the delusional cowards at Associated Press. New York Times, L.A. Times, Washington Post, ABC, NBC, CBS, AP, UPI, AlJazeera, etc., Pfft..Communism needed "Gun Control" in the 40's and 50's, but only got it in New York, Chicago and other Liberal fantasylands.

  • defcon 4

    Your last paragraph is disgusting, but no different than the atmosphere of thinly disguised Jew hatred that permeates US universities of "higher" learning. Personally, I'd like to see US universities de-funded, I'm tired of seeing US tax dollars used to propagate islamofascist propaganda.

  • Spider

    AP is now a gaggle of Sharia compliant Is-lamist arse smoochers just like our American MSM and current administration. I guess this is just another nail in the coffin for classic liberal
    western culture and American Liberty. Clearly the people at AP are taking Western culture, sucess and Liberty for granted because they don't know life without it. They should talk to the endlessly opressed Christians in former Chriatian countries like Egypt and Lebanon if they want to know the real definition of "Islamism "..

  • kaz

    it really doesnt matter what we call it, we urgently need to exterminate it, and to do that we must first exterminate the traitors. it is not difficult to see who the traitors are. hollywood, the media, academia, both political parties, and congress are full of them. if we do not get rid of our traitors, and their favorite people, muslims, we are doomed to slavery, then genocide.

  • JacksonPearson

    Muhammad's modified commandments:

    Love your Neighbor (or “the Golden Rule”): “Those who follow [Muhammad] are ruthless to the unbelievers but merciful to one another. (Quran 48:29) Islam always distinguishes between Muslims and non-Muslims.

    Do not Murder: Sharia exceptions: Murdering an apostate (Para. o4.17) and a parent murdering his/her children or his/her children’s children (Para. o1.2(4)) The latter exception applies to honor murders.

    Do not commit Adultery: Sharia exceptions: Sex with multiple wives (m6.10), sex with slaves and captives (Quran 33:50), and sex with temporary wives (Quran 4:24). Do not steal: Sharia exceptions: Forcible seizure, snatching and running, and theft by betraying a trust (embezzlement). (Para. o14.6) Corruption is rampant in Islamic states due to these exceptions.

    Do not bear false witness: Sharia exceptions: It is OK to break the intent of the oath, as long as you don’t break the letter of the oath. (Tawriya) (Para. o19.1) and “When it is possible to achieve such an aim by lying but not by telling the truth, it is permissible to lie if attaining the goal is permissible.”(Taqiyya) Examples including protecting Islam or a Muslim. (Para. r8.2)

  • FatherJon

    Or, as Humpty Dumpty said to Alice, 'words mean exactly what I want them to mean, neither more nor less'.

    FJ

  • SSMcDonald

    The AP, Administration’s Press, is hardly a source for unbiased information. They are in bed with the extreme left and one-world government puppeteers. And the media blindly sucks up to AP. AND AP never allows comments to their articles.