I'm going to assume Mark Steyn won't mind if I reprint chunks of his column this week. After all, one of his dogs and one of my dogs are siblings, so we're practically family.
My favorite headline of the year so far comes from the Daily Mail in Britain:
"Government Renames Islamic Terrorism As anti-Islamic Activity' To Woo Muslims."
... So henceforth, any terrorism perpetrated by persons of an Islamic persuasion will be designated "anti-Islamic activity." Britain's Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, unveiled the new brand name in a speech a few days ago. "There is nothing Islamic about the wish to terrorize, nothing Islamic about plotting murder, pain and grief," she told her audience. "Indeed, if anything, these actions are anti-Islamic."
Well, yes, one sort of sees what she means. Killing thousands of people in Manhattan skyscrapers in the name of Islam does, among a certain narrow-minded type of person, give Islam a bad name, and thus could be said to be "anti-Islamic" – in the same way that the Luftwaffe raining down death and destruction on Londoners during the Blitz was an "anti-German activity."
A few days ago, a pretrial hearing in an Atlanta courtroom made public for the first time a video made by two Georgia Tech students. Syed Haris Ahmed and Ehsanul Islam Sadequee went to Washington and took footage of key buildings, and that "casing video" then wound up in the hands of Younis Tsouli, an al-Qaida recruiter in London. As the film shot by the Georgia students was played in court, Ehsanul Islam Sadequee's voice could be heard on the soundtrack: "This is where our brothers attacked the Pentagon."
"Allahu akbar," responds young Ahmed. God is great.
How "anti-Islamic" an activity is that? Certainly, not all Muslims want to fly planes into the Pentagon. But those that do do it in the name of their faith. And anyone of a mind to engage in an "anti-Islamic activity" will find quite a lot of support from leading Islamic scholars.
Here's another news item out of Britain this week: A new version of "The Three Little Pigs" was turned down for some "excellence in education" award on the grounds that "the use of pigs raises cultural issues" and, as a result, the judges "had concerns for the Asian community" – i.e., Muslims. Non-Muslim Asians – Hindus and Buddhists – have no "concerns" about anthropomorphized pigs.
This is now a recurring theme in British life. A while back, it was a local government council telling workers not to have knickknacks on their desks representing Winnie-the-Pooh's porcine sidekick, Piglet.
What all these stories have in common is the excessive deference to Islam. If "The Three Little Pigs" are verboten when Muslims do not yet comprise 10 percent of the British population, what else will be on the blacklist by the time they're, say, 20 percent?
Elizabeth May, leader of Canada's Green Party (the fourth-largest political party), recently spoke out against her country's continued military contribution to the international force in Afghanistan. "More ISAF forces from a Christian/Crusader heritage," she said, "will continue to fuel an insurgency that has been framed as a jihad."
As it happens, Canada did not send troops to the Crusades, mainly because the fun was over several centuries before Canada came in existence. Six years ago, it was mostly the enemy who took that line, Osama bin Laden raging at the Great Satan for the fall of Andalusia in 1492, which, with the best will in the world, it's hard to blame on Halliburton. But since then, the pathologies of Islamism have proved surprisingly contagious among Western elites. ...
IslamISM? Where did that come from?
After all, there we were, crusing with clarity: Islamic, Islamic, anti-Islamic, Islam, Islamic, Islam, Islamic Islamic...and then, from the PC-blue comes that obfuscating suffix to confuse everything. Cousin Mark is hardly alone; in fact, he's in good company. Writing about the "simple fear" that prevented news outlets from reprinting the Danish Mohammed cartoons in 2006, Charles Krauthammer "explained" things this way: "They know what happened to Theo van Gogh, who made a film about the Islamic treatment of women and got a knife through the chest with an Islamist manifesto attached." Last week, Frank Gaffney, while defending Pentagon jihad expert Stephen Coughlin, even switched sharia--Islamic law, plain and simple--into "Islamofascist theo-political-legal code."
I write about these linguistic shell games at length in my book, The Death of the Grown-Up. Continuing with the Krauthammer example (pp. 199-200) about the "Islamic treatment of women" and the "Islamist manifesto," it says: "Given that both Theo's film and the murder manifesto were directly and explicitly inspired by the verses of the Koran, what's Islamic about the treatment of women that's not also Islamic about the manifesto?"
The same sort of question could be asked of Mark Steyn: Why is the excessive deference to "Islam" he robustly notes throughout his column connected only to the pathologies of "Islamism"?
My book continues this way: "The `ist' is a dodge, a nice semantic wedge between the religion of Islam and the murder of van Gogh. But why, oh why, is it up to Charles Krauthammer, or any other infidel to save face when the face is Mohammed's--the certifiable religious inspiration of jihad murder and dhimmi subjugation, not to mention the oppression of women? If the `ist' is undeserved here, it is also misplaced--a figleaf where there should be no shame in understanding."
The book goes on from there. As will this rhetorical disconnect.