“Don't Invoke Islam: Although the al-Qaida network exploits religious sentiments and tries to use religion to justify its actions, we should treat it as an illegitimate political organization, both terrorist and criminal.”
- From ‘Words that Work and Words that Don't: A Guide for Counterterrorism Communication’, published by The Investigative Project on Terrorism. (It was not, however, written by the Project. It was written by
US National Counter-Terrorism Centre.)
US National Counter-Terrorism Centre.)
In the last week or so President Obama visited the National Defence University in order to re-express, or revaluate, America’s broad goals and commitments in its ‘war against terror’ (a phrase he – now? - rejects).
Predictably, Obama said that ‘the United States is not at war with Islam’. Nonetheless, Obama is simply reiterating a stance he has held since he became President. In fact his position is based upon, or, more correctly, it is best expressed by, a document which dates back to 2008; a year before he became President.
The US National Counter-Terrorism Center found that Islam and terrorism are not linked.
So that’s official! Islamism or militant Islam and terrorism are not linked either. There is absolutely no connection whatsoever between Islam, in any of its forms, and terrorism. The only thing that is linked to terrorism are various ‘death cults’ or ‘sects’. This is now the truth according to Barack Obama too. Obama ordered a revision of America’s National Security Strategy, around three years ago, so as to erase all possible connections between Islam and terrorism. That is, between Islam and anything violent.
This is thought control. It's all really about words; not about realities or actions.
Specifically, the phrase ‘Islamic radicalism’ has been erased from much – or all! - American governmental discourse. And if the words no longer exist, then surely the realities can’t exist either - at least not according to the post-modern logic of the American Government.
Apparently it was George W. Bush who got it all wrong. He made the illogical and 'Islamophobic' conclusion that Islam and terrorism are indeed intertwined. Actually that's not quite right. He rightly concluded that ‘militant Islam’ and terrorism are intertwined. More specifically, a Bush-era document described the war against terrorists as “the struggle against militant Islamic radicalism … the great ideological conflict of the early years of the 21st century”.
But didn’t Bush also think pure and good Islam was a pretty decent thing?
Then the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) got in on the act. And when it does so, which is quite often, it often gets what it wants from the US Government.
Clearly such a disconnecting of Islam and terrorism pleased CAIR very much. It said that it would “welcome this change in language as another step toward respectful and effective outreach to Muslims at home and abroad". Well I never! Muslims being jubilant over the effective denial of any Islam-terrorism connection? You wouldn’t expect anything else, would you? Now Muslims can carry out their jihadist acts without anyone ever seeing the deep connections between Islam and violence. Or at least they won’t be able to use the phrase ‘Islamic terrorism’ or ‘Islamist terrorism’ if they work for the US Government. Who knows, perhaps Islamic terrorism will magically disappear if such a thing is never spoken of, or even thought about, in those words.
CAIR thinks that phrases like ‘Islamic terrorism’ are ‘loaded’. That is, it’s wrong and quite simply 'Islamophobic' to use phrases like ‘Islamist terrorism’. Let’s not mess about here. It’s wrong and Islamophobic to even think that there's even a slight hint of a connection between Islam and terrorism or to violence generally.
Yet Islamic terrorism and violence exists! It exists on a massive and everyday scale. So what does CAIR, and therefore Barack Obama, want to do about this very inconvenient and logical connection between Islam and violence? They want to change the words we use to describe Islamic terrorism by keeping the ‘terrorism’ part but erasing the word ‘Islamist’ or ‘Islamic’. Surely that will change reality too; not just change the words we use and the thoughts we think. Or so CAIR and the US Government think.
Specifically, they want to keep the ‘words that work’ and get rid of the ‘words that don’t work'. That is how the US National Counter-Terrorism Centre put it. “'Islamist terrorism’” does “not work”. "'Death-cult terrorism”’ or ‘”evil terrorism”’, yes, “does work”. Why is that? Well, it can in no way stop Islamic terrorism. It may make the lives of American Muslims a whole lot easier. The ‘moderate’ Muslims won’t feel the need to defend their religion any more. The terrorists will find it a whole lot easier to do what they do if government infidels are not allowed to look towards Islam, and the teachers and teachings of Islam, to help them fight Islamic terrorism.
Not even al-Qaeda can now be called ‘Islamic’ or ‘Muslim’. It would have come as a surprise to Osama bin Laden, were he still alive, that he was not a Muslim and that he didn't control an Islamic terrorist network. Indeed this is a surprise to me, as it will be to the millions of non-Muslims who do see a strong connection between Islam and violence.
More specifically, CAIR and the US Government claimed that these naughty and Islamophobic phrases ‘unintentionally legitimise’ terrorist groups. That is, to see these organisations as Islamic, or as aspects of Islam (even if small aspects), is to make them seem more acceptable and, well, more Islamic than they really are.
Nonetheless, what if there is a connection between Islam, or only parts thereof, and violence? What if Osama bin Laden was a Muslim - full stop? What if he was even a good Muslim who was actually truer to his religion than many other Muslims, including CAIR and the so-called 'moderates'? (That’s if CAIR and the Muslim moderates are genuinely against Islamic terrorism or terrorism in the name of Islam.)
Alternatively, CAIR’s suggestions may have been offered to make life not only easier for moderate Muslims; but also for the Islamic terrorists themselves. If the terrorists and their acts cannot be spoken of as what they truly are, then they cease to exist qua Islamic terrorists. And if Islamic terrorism ceases to exist qua Islamic terrorism, then the terrorists will be far harder to defeat. Islamic terror will increase, not lessen.
All this is no surprise if one bears in mind Obama’s speech at Cairo University in Egypt in June 2009. In that speech he told Egyptian Muslims that 'the US does not fear or hate the Muslim world'. And to prove this he promised to bend over backwards for Muslims and the Muslim world - as far as is humanly or politically possible within the confines of being an American president. He promised to rewrite the English language and thus re-tune the infidels’ thoughts about Islam and terrorism. Could any Muslim ask for more?
Let’s take the ‘Guide for Counter-Terrorism Communication’(2008) in more detail.
This document seeks to ‘avoid labelling everything “'Muslim'". Thus the US Government can longer label anything ‘Muslim’. Or at least not acts of terrorism and other acts of jihadist violence. That is because Obama wants to get rid of the mind-set which believes that it’s the case today of 'the US vs. Islam’.
What if it is largely a case of Islam versus the US and the rest of the non-Muslim world? What if it is the case that millions upon millions of Muslims believe in jihad, even if they don’t carry it out themselves? Not all Muslim believers in jihad and terrorism, of course, are actually active in either jihad or terrorism. Not every Nazi loaded the cattle trucks with Jews, fought on the Russian front or joined the Gestapo. Still, they supported these things; either directly or indirectly.
This is a chicken-or-egg scenario. The aforesaid document says that when we use the naughty words which connect Islam with terrorism this will result in ‘a large percentage of the world’s population’ becoming the victims of policy and hurtful words. This in turn will result in our ‘unintentionally alienating them’. That ‘is not a judicious move’.
What if it is actually the other way around? That is:
National legislation and government actions alienate Muslims because it is Muslims, and their religion, who and which are largely responsible for most contemporary acts of terrorism.
Barack Obama has got this the wrong way around. He thinks that
National legislations and government actions, up until now, have alienated Muslims and have thus contributed to the rise of terrorism and Muslim violence generally.
Why would the US Government have focused upon - and thus alienated - Muslims if it had not made the obvious connections between Islam/Muslims and terrorism? Of course there is a Leftist and an Islamist alternative to this. That the US Government focused upon, and thus alienated, Muslims quite simply because of its ‘Islamophobia’ and/or its ‘racism’.
But again we can ask: Where did that ‘Islamophobia’ came from?
It came from Islamist terrorism. It did not create Islamist terrorism. Most people don’t fear that which is not dangerous. The possibility of Islamic terrorism is ever-present. Thus we have the fear of Muslims and Islam. We have what has been called 'Islamophobia'.
The US will never understand al-Qaeda and Islamic violence if it really believes its own Muslim-friendly rhetoric. It will be forever barking up the wrong tree. Barack Obama makes the absurd and dangerous conclusion, or at least US officials do, that al-Qaeda ‘exploits religious sentiments and tries to use religion to justify its actions’. This is similar to the mistakes governments made about the ‘ridiculous’ Hitler and his ‘silly Brown Shirts’. It is also parallel to the grave mistakes UK ministers and officials made about a whole host of potential terrorists and Islamists. Civil servants and officials in the UK once saw these people as simple 'buffoons' and 'clowns' and thus concluded that they were no real threat to Britain. Some civil servants still think that way. Thus the ‘misfits’ and ‘clowns’ were quite simply ignored. As long as they didn’t plant their bombs in England, all was fine. And then came 9/11. Madrid. Bali… and then London (7/7).
Barack Obama doesn’t see al-Qaeda as being made up of clowns or buffoons. He sees it as being made of ‘criminals’ instead. How does that work? Is it being suggested that al-Qaeda is making money from their operations and propaganda? If not, what other kinds of criminality are being hinted at here? One cannot say ‘the exportation of heroin’ because the funds gained from this are invested into the jihad against the West. Thus we are back to where we started – Islamic jihad and Islamic violence generally.
What about just calling al-Qaeda ‘terrorists’ - full stop? But terrorists must terrorise for reasons, principles or beliefs. No one is just a terrorist simpliciter. Thus, as with the 'criminals' earlier, we are back to the starting point again. Al-Qaeda members aren’t terrorists simply because they are terrorists. They are terrorists in the name of Allah and Islam. Even if we, and indeed Muslims, think that terror in the name of Allah and Islam is wrong or a ‘misinterpretation’ of that religion, it’s still the case that al-Qaeda doesn’t think it is theologically or Islamically wrong in doing what it does.
Why pretend that they aren’t Muslims just because we think they are theologically in the wrong or that such an acceptance of their politico-theology would work against Muslims at home? Al-Qaeda is made up of Muslims and it commits acts of Islamic terrorism no matter what we think of its theology. So even if we accept that there exists a non-violent Islam, this need not mean that we are given a good reason to claim that al-Qaeda members are 'not really Muslims’ and that what they do ‘is not really Islamic’.