3 readers online now  |  69 million page views

Rhetorics are a double edged sword

Reader comment on item: Not Calling Islamism the Enemy

Submitted by Farid H. (Germany), Apr 13, 2006 at 20:19

Rhetorics are always a double-edged sword; esp. when used indiscriminately or in an over-generalizing way. On the one hand, using robust rhetoric may help boosting the own morale (at least in the short term); but on the other hand, it also boosts the morale of the enemy. And when it comes to fighting morale; islamists are, unfortunately, like most religious fanatics with political ambitions, a highly motivated crowd.

If we are to succeed in pushing them back, we need to be careful with our words. That's why the distinction "Islam" vs. "Islamism" is of such utter importance. If you say "We must stand up and fight Islamism," you'll get a lot of agreement in muslim countries, not only because islamists there are threatening governments, but also the personal freedom of every single citizen. But if you say "We must stand up and fight Islam," people in islamic countries will almost inevitably associate this with "Crusade" and they'll recoil and solidarize themselves with the islamists, even if they dislike their backwards ideas and views. And this is exactly what the islamists are trying to achieve: to persuade non-islamist Muslims that the West is on a crusade against every Muslim; therefore turning them into radicalized islamists as well.

So, there's nothing wrong to call the "war on terror" a "war against islamism" (why not? let's infuriate those islamists; they're already on their war path, so there's no point in appeasing them), but calling it a "war against Islam" would only boost and help islamistic propaganda. The question here is, do you want to help the islamists spread their own ideas in the (dwindling) parts of the muslim world and society that have not been infected yet? Then, go ahead, that's the perfect recipe.

Wouldn't it be wiser to drive an edge between islamists and the 1+ billion non-islamist muslims, rather than between the West and the whole islamic world? If we are to identify the enemy in our terminology, let's first make sure we pick the right people, and then rally the rest of the world (including non-islamist muslims) around this cause. Because the best way to fight an ideology, is with a counter ideology that you need to implant within the ranks of the enemy. Or, more precisely: to combat islamist ideology, you need to persuade muslim societies that islamism is evil and does much more harm than good. If islamists lose their support in islamic societies, they'll be easy to push back to the point of becoming irrelevant (again). But you need to persuade islamic societies; and to do this, it would be extremely short sighted to alienate them with the kind of over-generalizing rhetoric that is being heaped on them since the war on terror began (see. danish cartoons etc...).

Anyway, I'd hope that we'll be able to win the war against islamism sooner than later, whatever rhetorics are being used here and there.
Submitting....

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".

Comment on this item

Mark my comment as a response to Rhetorics are a double edged sword by Farid H.

Email me if someone replies to my comment

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".

See recent outstanding comments.

Follow Daniel Pipes

Facebook   Twitter   RSS   Join Mailing List
eXTReMe Tracker

All materials by Daniel Pipes on this site: © 1968-2020 Daniel Pipes. daniel.pipes@gmail.com and @DanielPipes

Support Daniel Pipes' work with a tax-deductible donation to the Middle East Forum.Daniel J. Pipes

(The MEF is a publicly supported, nonprofit organization under section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Code.

Contributions are tax deductible to the full extent allowed by law. Tax-ID 23-774-9796, approved Apr. 27, 1998.

For more information, view our IRS letter of determination.)