By Alan Nathan © 2006 FrontPageMag
The Observer in Britain reported on December 10:
Cabinet ministers have been told by the Foreign Office to drop the phrase “war on terror” and other terms seen as liable to anger British Muslims and increase tensions more broadly in the Islamic world.
They’re conducting a response to threats in a way that comports with the approval of our enemies’ sympathizers. Again we’re reminded of the UK’s more dysfunctional politicos, as they accept yet another standard based on a flawed measure. Why do so many of us in the West pathetically demonstrate a double-standard tolerance for the intolerance of others against us? If Muslim leaders are correct when saying that the bin Ladens, al-Zawahiris, and Hassan Nasrallahs of the world don’t equal Islam, then it inextricably follows that our actions against those terrorists do not equal an attack on Islam – once separated, always separated. As I’ve argued before, if it’s wrong to assume guilt based on ethnicity, then it’s equally wrong to shield guilt based on ethnicity. Why is this concept such a daunting challenge to surmount?
Once the proud gatekeepers of original thought and reasoned nuance, our British cousins have apparently renewed their romantic preference for cousins in general. It’s difficult to imagine another more clarifying explanation for their latest slippage in deductive reasoning. If not amorous cousins, then perhaps their moms and sons have again become a skosh too close. To what else can we attribute such inbred thinking?
Regardless of the impetus, it’s grotesquely self-evident that when Britain’s Foreign Office announced their intent to propitiate the always predictable and artificial indignation of the more terrorist leaning components of the Muslim community, they were not only onboard the wrong boat of logic, they capsized it for the least credible reason – politically correct self-flagellation, the original thinking that brought the horrid “war on terror” phrase into existence.
More specifically, the phrase was coined as a way to avoid offending Muslims, and to differentiate the guilty from those who simply share their ethnicity and religion.
Many of us dislike the phrase, because it describes fighting a tactic or weapon instead fighting the people who use that weapon. We might as well be discussing the “war on grenades,” or the “battle against bombs.” It is for this reason the term should be treated with contempt, and not because it might be perceived as offensive – especially when more often than not said offense is falsely claimed for strategic gain. Asserted perceptions are illegitimate without corresponding foundation, but the lacking scholarship in both their press and ours enables all political charlatans to escape confrontation with that fact.
In September, I had the honor to moderate a debate at the plush Madison Hotel in Washington, D.C., hosted by The David Horowitz Freedom Center. The panel’s theme was on whether or not the “war on terror” should be called “World War III.” Panelists were: The Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol, Vanity Fair’s Christopher Hitchens, Center for American Progress’s Lawrence Korb, and The Wall Street Journal’s Bret Stephens. Kristol and Hitchens expressed support for the Iraqi War, while Korb opposed it. Stephens argued that regardless of how we got in, it was still incumbent upon us to win.
As to the term “war on terror,” you had a three-to-one vote against it while the otherwise hawkish Bill Kristol was the only one agreeing with it. Hitchens explained that the name is less significant than would be its victorious conclusion in our favor.
Agreed. Whatever it is you might be arguing about can always be trumped by another priority. However, that comparatively less important issue still often requires a legitimate resolution, especially when its absence has the consequence of blurring our sense of the enemy’s true identity – fanatical jihadists.
Also cited in that Observer report:
Eliza Manningham-Buller, the head of MI5, recently stressed the threat from growing radicalization among young British Muslims. Whitehall officials believe that militants use a sense of war and crisis and a ‘clash of civilizations’ to recruit supporters, and thus the use of terms such as ‘war’, ‘war on terror’ or ‘battle’ can be counter-productive.
Can you believe this reasoning? Since when do any of us have control over the power of someone else’s delusion? And why should the enemy’s potential spin of what Britons may say become the governing measure of what they do say. This essentially relinquishes their communications to the dictates of an enemy now armed with yet another level of influence.
How is that anything but humiliating?