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Truth first, and then use the "shame" weapon

Reader comment on item: Denying Islam's Role in Terror: Explaining the Denial

Submitted by Mike C. (United States), Mar 16, 2013 at 14:00

Thanks for this detailed and organized article which explains the truth about how soft the American psyche has become. In fact, the word "denial," considering all the facts you presented, seem weak. A more accurate word for describing such intentional denial would be "deception." From 9/11 on, the government has tried to deceive the public from what was totally evident. You proved this by listing the many horrendous terrorist acts on our territory and by citing an important statement:

"Just one day after 9/11, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell set the tone by asserting that the just-committed atrocities 'should not be seen as something done by Arabs or Islamics; it is something that was done by terrorists.'"

That deception by our leaders has led to the most powerful nation on earth coming up with the dumbest and weakest name for a war in history: the "War on Terror". Unsurprisingly, it took a Republican, Newt Gingrich, as you noted, to explain the nursery-school level logic: "This is not a war on terrorism. Terrorism is an activity." Others have pointed out that "terror" is also just a weapon, and not something you can fight or declare war against, being formless and unstructured like typical uniformed armies.

We didn't go to Europe in 1941 to fight a "war on blitzkriegs" or to the Far East to fight a "war on kamikazes." To help show that "deception," not "denial," is intended, you quoted Daniel Benjamin, Obama's coordinator for counter-terrorism at the State Department:

"I have no doubt my colleagues understand the nature of the threat."

The honest and most useful name, IMO, would have been the "War on Islamic Terrorism." The general public would have understood that this is not a war on any religion or religious group. Nor is it a war on some amorphous mystical enemy. It is a war on a more clearly defined type of terrorism, a "lethal combination," aka "Jihad." And we can leave the other descriptions for the political scientists to debate in their journals: "Islamic fundamentalism," "Islamist extremism," "radical extremists," "Islamo-fascism," etc. The average American isn't concerned about those terms.

An accurate name would also have allowed our media to help win the war, rather than just report it and continue the deceptions. They would have helped fight it based on other essential facts that you explained, that Muslims are easily offended, and especially fearful of negative Western opinions about Islam. And this fear by many Muslims of being blamed for doing bad things in a newly adopted country with a different culture could easily be turned into a "shame weapon" against potential terrorists.

Muslims in the U.S. are often very humble around non-Muslims, even more so around Jews, who they respect enough to hire as attorneys or doctors. From my own experience they seem petrified of being accused of any crime, no matter how petty, and are afraid of the police. This could be a cultural reaction, considering how strict and authoritarian their former countries are. Petty crimes that are misdemeanors here can be capital crimes back in their homeland.

But Muslims have an Achilles heel: when matters concern their religion, their sense of pride takes over. Say anything negative about the Koran, and many Muslims go ballistic and become overly defensive. Draw a cartoon of Muhammad and the same happens. Try to leave or reject their religion, the same. Their greatest weakness then is their overbearing pride of Islam which becomes their weakness. A people's pride of their religion is nothing new.

Combine that "pride" with Obama's stated desire, that "one of the ways we're going to win this struggle is through the battle of hearts and minds." If he's right, then labeling the war accurately comes first, a "War on Islamic Terror." Afterwards, when a Muslim commits an act of terror in a Western nation, every media-aware Muslim will see that the terrorist has also reinforced and confirmed the name and purpose of the war, will have shown that Muslims are indeed always the cause of such terrorism, and as a result, their religious pride will be diminished and may turn to shame.

We would hope that in their "hearts and minds," they will instinctively realize that every act of terror by a Muslim reduces the impression of Islam in the eyes of the world. That every act of Muslim terror will indirectly be a disgrace against Islam itself. Their feelings of religious "pride" will be wounded. And because Muslims stay close to other Muslims after they immigrate, that "shame" could indirectly become a weapon against further "Islamic terror." As you so rightly pointed out, "politicians and generals must identify and name the enemy to defeat it." Deceiving the people achieves the opposite.

Submitting....

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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