A Bad Name and a Worse Idea; 'Islamo-Fascism' Is Offensive and Flawed

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Byline: Harlan Ullman, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Despite valiant efforts by past Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to exorcise the phrase "global war on terror" (known as GWOT) from the political lexicon, not only did he fail: Alongside it, an even worse name has arisen from the neoconservative vocabulary to describe the erstwhile enemy. The name is "Islamo-fascism," which manages to be both truly offensive and based on a profoundly flawed idea.

Having lost the fight over GWOT - despite the reality that we are not really a nation at war and terror is a thing not an entity or enemy - perhaps reason can prevail in this instance. Before laying out why we should eliminate the use of this name and idea, consider a few other equally nasty applications. Why not Christo-fascism, Judeo-fascism, Mormon-fascism and even Buddha-fascism to apply to faith-based radicalism? The answer is because it is absurd.

Language today has been "dumbed" down and in many ways has become more uncivil embodied by the worst forms of rap music. This coarseness of language has carried over to how politics are conducted and when the four "G's" - "guns, gays, God and gestation periods" - may ultimately be responsible for choosing, or weeding out, candidates to be the next president for both parties. At a time when the nation faces dire dangers and impossibly difficult tests at home and abroad, and government is broken, a higher level of discourse seems essential. Three reasons make the case against use of Islamo-fascism.

First, Islamo-fascism mischaracterizes and distorts understanding of the adversaries we face. Second, to a large slice of the globe's 1.3 billion Muslims, the term is highly offensive and contributes to further backlash against U.S. policy. Third, the term implies that any means to gain the ends of destroying this enemy are warranted, reinforcing use of the most drastic tactics in this fight - including torture.

It is clear that the neoconservative advocates of Islamo-fascism wanted to link radical Islam with the Nazis and Hitlerian (though not Italian or Japanese) fascism and of course the image of a latter-day nuclear or biological holocaust. Fortunately, our adversaries are not Hitler. And unlike the Nazis, these extremists lack a central, unifying ideology, come from many diverse movements and so far have not been inclined to develop a political theory for seizing political power.

There are many varieties of Islamic extremism - Wahhabis, Salafists, Taliban and other sects of mostly Sunni, although with some Shi'ite elements. …