Dafydd: Why I Don’t Write “Islamofascist”

First, why is this even important? Because language frames thought. I won’t go as far as George Orwell in the “Newspeak” chapter of Nineteen Eighty-Four; I don’t believe that absent a word for a concept, the concept itself becomes literally unthinkable. But I do believe language structures thought, changing how we think about an idea.
So creating a new word for Islamic terrorism changes how we perceive it, which affects how we fight it. This is especially true when the new word is actually a contraction of two other words, Islamic and fascism, into Islamofascism. The shortening restricts the ability to think critically about the alleged connection, short-circuiting rational thought and heading straight for the emotional centers.
Or as Orwell put it, “Comintern is a word that can be uttered almost without taking thought, whereas Communist International is a phrase over which one is obliged to linger at least momentarily.”
The point here is twofold: first, somewhat trivially, the Islamists who commit acts of terror are not typically Fascists, or even lower-case-f “fascists.” The Muslim Brotherhood allied with Adolf Hitler in the 1930s, but that was primarily because Hitler was such a strident Jew hater.
Most of the militant Islamist groups around today simply have no economic ideas, plans, or principles. Yet the distinguishing characteristic of fascism — what differentiates it from garden-variety socialism, racism, and antisemitism — is intensely economic: fascism is totalitarianism that operates through corporatism. As my pal and co-writer Brad Linaweaver explains it:

The Communists gathered up all the corporate heads and took them out to be shot; the fascists gathered up all the corporate heads and took them out to lunch — where they were told to obey orders or be shot.

Precisely none of the Islamic countries or terrorist organizations who want to destroy us is a corporatist state; none is fascist.
The word “Islamofascist” is just an example of using Nazi or fascist as an all-purpose intensifier to mean anything bad. It cheapens the historicity of the real fascists. What’s next, discussing the Communofascism of North Korea?
But the more important point is that the word “fascism” has a magical power: it overwhelms every other word you connect it to. In the real world, “Islamofascism” transsubstantiates into (islamo)-FASCISM! Kaboom!
The danger we face is Islamism and the willingness to murder hundreds of thousands in the name of jihad. What matters is the religion itself and the militancy by which it’s spread — not some putative connection to Mussolini or Hitler. To understand the jihadi, we need to confront the true source of the danger: the death cult that animates the slayer-of-thousands.
What we don’t need is to hide it behind the big, black shadow of a different boogieman, and one that — unlike Islamism — doesn’t even exist in any signficance anymore. Rather than intensifying our perception of what actually assails us, tacking that silly predicate on the end actually diminishes the intensity, fuzzing up the picture. If we lose focus and forget the real danger, as 9/11 recedes into the past, we will be tempted to just shrug it off and go back to the Clintonian “situation normal, all f—ed up” response.
And a word like Islamofascist pushes us in just that direction. In fact, it sounds exactly like something the Comintern might come up with to attack pro-democracy Moslems, like the brothers who run Iraq the Model.
The proper word that truly describes the enemy to his poisoned core is militant Islamist; and that is the word I will use.

Reuters’ Anti-American Bias Shows Again

Reuters went out of its way to take a potshot at America today in a completely unrelated story about a 115-year-old Dutch woman and her predilection for herring:

A Dutch woman who swears by a daily helping of herring for a healthy life celebrated her 115th birthday on Wednesday as the oldest living person on record.
Hendrikje van Andel-Schipper, a former needlework teacher, was born in 1890, the year Sioux Indians were massacred by the U.S. military at the Battle of Wounded Knee.

So is Ms. Andel-Schipper a Sioux Indian? Did she marry a Sioux Indian? Is her middle name Sue? Apparently, the answer to all these questions is No. For some reason, however, Reuters chooses to use the Wounded Knee massacre as a benchmark for the life of a Dutch woman.
Was Wounded Knee the only historical event of 1890 that Reuters could discover? Given that the article mentions the German occupation during World War II and the fact that Andel-Schipper had to sell her jewelry to eat, perhaps Reuters could have mentioned that Kaiser Wilhelm fired Bismarck that year, aggregating absolute power to himself and setting the stage for two World Wars. At least that would have some tangential relationship to Andel-Schipper.
Whoever wrote this for Reuters should be fired, along with the editor who green-lighted it. (via The Corner)

Palestinian Security Forces Inadequate And Mostly AWOL

Glenn Kessler reports on the status of Palestinian efforts to secure their territories for more far-reaching peace initiatives in today’s Washington Post, and finds that the Palestinian Authority has fallen far short in even forming a unified security force under civilian control. The Palestinians still refuse to confront and disarm militants, perhaps because a majority of their official state security forces don’t really exist:

Though Israel is scheduled to depart the Gaza Strip in six weeks, the badly fractured Palestinian security forces are still struggling to consolidate into a body capable of maintaining control, a top U.S. general told Congress yesterday.
Lt. Gen. William E. Ward, who four months ago was assigned to assist the Palestinians with their security services, described a difficult and at times frustrating experience of trying to reorganize a “dysfunctional” system of individual fiefdoms and an almost nonexistent chain of command. The Palestinian police also have little infrastructure or communications equipment, much of it having been destroyed by the Israelis in the past four years. …
Ward testified that about 20,000 of the 58,000 Palestinians with security jobs show up for work. Over time, he said, the security services had turned into a “social welfare net,” with payments being made to people even if they did not contribute to the day-to-day security on the streets.

Kessler doesn’t ask how many of the 38,000 official security personnel avoid work due to other commitments, such as operations for Islamic Jihad, Hamas, or Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade. Somehow I doubt that all 38,000 AWOL security forces use their stipends as nothing more than a welfare check. Later in the piece, Kessler quotes General Ward as skeptical about Palestinian efforts to co-opt militant groups rather than confront and disarm them, but that large percentage of unaccountable “police” officers — almost two-thirds — suggests that the militants have co-opted Palestinian security, not the other way around.
Until the Palestinians get serious about putting their security forces under clear civilian control and eliminating the militias, they cannot handle the responsibilities of sovereignty and statehood. As it stands, the Palestinian territories resemble Somalia, a recognized failed state, more than they resemble even Egypt or Syria, let alone Jordan or Kuwait. The Israelis had better build a big wall to keep the chaos out when the UN forces them to transfer official sovereignty to Abbas and the gang at Ramallah.

The Next Generation Of Republican Leaders

The New York Times reports on the burgeoning effort by the GOP to extend its reach into a crucial Democratic demographic. Black Republicans have started to run for offices across the country, a phenomenon that threatens the last bastion of lock-step Democratic voting, and their last hope of recapturing majority status in national elections:

In Maryland, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania, black Republicans – all of whom have been groomed by the national party – are expected to run for governor or the United States Senate next year. Several other up-and-coming black Republicans are expected to run for lower statewide offices in Missouri, Ohio, Texas and Vermont in 2006.
It is not clear that local Republican organizations will embrace all of those candidates, and several face primaries. But national Republican leaders have been enthusiastically showcasing those blacks’ campaigns, saying that whether those candidates win or lose, the party can still gain if blacks believe that Republicans are seriously courting their votes.
“You’ve got a Democratic Party which I think has repeatedly demonstrated that it assumes it will win the African-American vote, but doesn’t work for that vote,” Ken Mehlman, chairman of the Republican National Committee, said. “It takes African-Americans for granted. And I think folks in the African-American community see that. There is a real opportunity here for the Republican Party.”
Mr. Mehlman has been traveling the country raising money for black candidates, speaking at historically black colleges and promoting religion-based programs with black churches. He has created an African-American advisory panel that includes virtually all the statewide black candidates. And he recruited blacks to campaign with President Bush last year, including Mr. Swann, who was co-chairman of African-Americans for Bush National Steering Committee.

Mehlman has worked hard this year to spread the Republican agenda into areas that have traditionally been the most hostile to it. However, after decades of promises from Democrats about Great Society handouts and trillions of dollars spent on welfare, urban renewal, and quotas, the African-American community still finds itself economically and politically isolated from the American mainstream to a large extent. With the GOP holding majorities across the board after their explicit and monolithic opposition, that political isolation is as complete as it has been since the Civil Rights movement. Unfortunately, as their leaders have discovered, their bloc support for Democrats put themselves in that position.
Mehlman and the GOP could have easily discounted the African-American community as a result of their lock-step opposition, but instead opted for a long-range strategy of inclusiveness. Republicans have offered what the Democrats cannot — real positions of power within the party, school vouchers for those trapped within the inner-city public school monopoly, and so on. A new generation of black politicians that preach self-reliance and center-right economics have suddenly arisen to counter the handout philosophy of Democrats that have trapped two generations of the poor (not just African-Americans) in the ghettoes.
Given the choice between the same tired agenda that Democrats have used on African-Americans for forty years or a new chance to rise to positions of real power on a national basis, significant numbers of the black community have opened their ears to the GOP. Until the Democrats start rethinking their entire special-interest strategy, where the needs of African-American parents in those inner cities compete against the interests of the teachers, lawyers, and labor unions that feed Democratic troughs, they risk losing their last undisputed base of electoral support.

Sandra Day O’Connor Says Goodbye

As Sherlock Holmes would often say, the game’s afoot — Sandra Day O’Connor has resigned from the Supreme Court:

Supreme Court Justrice Sandra Day O’Connor submitted her retirement notice to President Bush on Friday, setting the stage for a contentious battle over her replacement. …
One of the court’s two swing votes, O’Connor often sides with more conservative justices as she did in the Bush v. Gore ruling in 2000.

O’Connor’s retirement puts more pressure on the Senate than a Rehnquist retirement would have done. Rehnquist has consistenly provided a conservative voice on the court, and replacing him with another conservative would probably not have concerned moderate Democrats, who want to keep their powder dry for selected battles. O’Connor, however, has voted more from the center, and replacing her with a staunch conservative might get some of those moderate Democrats to the firing lines in the political battle to come.
Many names have been bandied about over the past several weeks. I don’t have a specific prediction on the nomination, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Bush nominate someone like Alberto Gonzales for a couple of reasons. First, his nomination would likely get a better reception as a replacement for O’Connor among his base than if he replaced Rehnquist. Bush has intense loyalty towards his friends and he wants to leave a legacy on SCOTUS in some form. Appointing the first Hispanic to SCOTUS has its appeal for the President with the most ethnically diverse inner circle in history.
Of course, it wouldn’t surprise me if Bush nominated a staunch conservative and judicial constructionist like Michael McConnell, either. It’s Bush’s nature to challenge his opponents, and he isn’t likely to allow the Democrats to dictate the terms of his executive appointments. This might be the opportunity he seeks to force the Democrats to extend their obstructionism to the highest levels of government, to truly smoke them out for the nation to see. If a substantial portion of the population didn’t care about appellate confirmations, they certainly will take notice of a SCOTUS confirmation.
All I know is that O’Connor’s resignation finally unleashes the political forces that both sides have stoked since the election. We’ll see how the Senate MOU and the Gang of 14 have affected the process in short order now. Pass the popcorn, folks … it should be a hell of a show.

The Poll That No One Reported (Updated)

Gallup announced yesterday that it had taken a snap poll after the speech given by George Bush on the war in Iraq from Fort Bragg. The poll showed some movement bolstering support for the war. In fact, it showed Bush picking up ten points on whether we are winning in Iraq (up to 54%), twelve points on keeping troops in Iraq until the situation improves as opposed to setting an exit date for their evacuation (now at 70%/25%), and seven points on whether Bush has a clear plan for handling the war in Iraq (up to 63%/35%).
All of these gains were made, Gallup points out, despite the fact that the speech had the lowest ratings of any prime-time presidential address in Bush’s terms of office. Only 23 million people watched the speech, and Gallup notes that most of them consisted of Bush supporters. CNN also reported on the low turnout for the speech:

President Bush’s latest address to the nation, urging Americans to stand firm in Iraq, drew the smallest TV audience of his tenure, Nielsen Media Research reported Wednesday.
Live coverage of Bush’s half-hour speech Tuesday night from the Ft. Bragg military base in North Carolina averaged 23 million viewers combined on four major U.S. broadcast networks and three leading cable news channels, Nielsen said.
Designed largely to bolster sagging public support for the persistently bloody conflict in Iraq, the speech fell 8.6 million viewers shy of Bush’s previous low as president, his August 9, 2001 address on stem cell research, which was carried on six networks.

Oddly enough, however, CNN did not report on the Gallup flash poll in its article on the speech. Neither did USA Today, which instead regurgitated the results of its previous polling while headlining its report thus — “Speech fails to quell some viewers’ unease”:

LaMagna and Tomanio were among those surveyed in a USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll taken Friday through Sunday. They were called again after Bush’s address. In the poll, 53% said the United States made a mistake in sending troops to Iraq. That reflects significant movement since the Iraqi elections five months ago, when only 45% said it was a mistake.
The erosion of support for the president’s policy was especially evident among groups Bush could once claim, according to a USA TODAY analysis of four surveys, combined to provide a larger and more reliable sample. Eight of 10 Republicans remain supportive of the war; eight of 10 Democrats already were opposed to it.

That gives the strong impression that the speech had no effect on polling, one that the Gallup poll refutes, at least in its small sample and short period for polling, both hallmarks of flash polling in general. One could argue that neither CNN nor USA Today were made aware of the Gallup poll, but that might be difficult, given Gallup’s description of it in their report as a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll:

A CNN/USA Today/Gallup instant-reaction poll shows that President Bush apparently persuaded many viewers of his speech Tuesday night to be more optimistic about the war in Iraq. Compared with their responses before the speech, people who tuned in are now more likely to say the United States is winning the Iraq war, that Bush has a clear plan for handling the war, and that the United States should keep troops in Iraq until the situation there gets better.

So why didn’t either of Gallup’s partners report these results?
UPDATE: CQ reader DG Bellak notes that CNN did report this, although it did not come up when I searched the CNN site. Good catch; my bad.

I’m On Vacation

As CQ readers know, I will be leaving for Washington DC for a week-long vacation in our nation’s capital. We’ve turned this into a family trip, with the First Mate joining me and my mother (Vayapaso) and my sister meeting us for parts of the week. None of us have been to DC before, and we’re all looking forward to the trip.
My vacation started last night, as I’m taking today off to finalize some arrangements for the dogs and the house ad, of course, start packing. Vacation for a blogger doesn’t mean that blogging will stop; I plan to continue posting throughout my trip, hopefully with photos of a few of the sights of DC. However, it does mean that my pace will slow down a bit. For that reason, I have invited commenter extraordinaire and long-time correspondent Dafydd ab Hugh aboard as a guest blogger. His first post, just below this one, delivers a blockbuster revelation about Iranian president-elect Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Knowing Dafydd, he will deliver many such revelations and generate plenty of controversy, and I know you’ll enjoy his writing.
Much more to come later this morning. I decided to sleep in on the first day, flush with my winnings at the poker championship … but that’s another story entirely, as Dafydd will tell you.