Over at The Corner, Mark Steyn replies to my post below, which discusses the use of words like "Islamism" and "Islamofascism," which, I maintain, effectively shields or obscures the tenets of Islam itself in considering what precisely drives jihad terror and, to me, the greater threat of creeping sharia.
I do use what she regards as the weasel word "Islamism", but I generally reserve it for a particular strand of hyper-Islam. Its solitary appearance in my column was in reference to a speech by Osama bin Laden. Islam itself is a profound challenge to any free society, for reasons I explain in my book, and it's true that in many ways Islam and Islamism function as a good cop/bad cop routine in the pressures they exert on western nations. But it's useful to have a word that distinguishes depraved death-cultists from the generality of Muslims leaning on wimp western governments to advance creeping sharia, Islamic banking, de facto polygamy, etc.
If, as Mark writes--and I agree--"Islam itself is a profound challenge to any free society," I believe it's imperative we focus our discussion on what it is about Islam that poses the challenge. For example, jihad doctrine poses a challenge. Sharia (Islamic law) poses a challenge. These are institutions of Islam itself--not some exceptional offshoot called "Islamism," or "hyper-Islam," or that other word currently in vogue, "Islamofascism." When we characterize such institutions of Islam as the "pathologies of Islamism," I think we are not just missing the point, but somehow wishing or pretending it isn't there.