The thought police over at the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) are urging journalists to delete the word “Islamist” from their lexicon. Though CAIR claims that the word stems out of bigotry, CAIR’s real agenda is to protect Islam — and Islamists — from so-called “defamation.”
The Associated Press Style Book is a guide for journalists which lays out rules for spelling, punctuation, and other guidelines. In its most recent edition, it added the word “Islamist,” which it defines as: “Islamist: supporter of government in accord with the laws of Islam. Those who view the Quran as a political model encompass a wide range of Muslims, from mainstream politicians to militants known as jihadi.” Generally, the word “Islamist” is used to distinguish those who want to practice Islam as a spiritual faith, as opposed to those who interpret it and apply it as a political ideology. Those in the latter category desire the merging of mosque and state.
On January 3, 2012, Ibrahim Hooper, national spokesperson for CAIR, published a column suggesting that in the New Year journalists should refrain from using the word “Islamist.”
He complains that news reports unfairly focus on Islamists and notes that there are no news reports of “Christianist,” “Hinduist,” or “Judaist” political leaders. He further insists that the word “Islamist” is used almost always “pejoratively” by “Islamophobic groups and individuals” who link the word to terrorism, persecution of religious minorities, and human rights violations committed in the name of Islam. Hooper whines that such “bigoted attacks” unfairly target Islam because they are not equally hurled at other faiths.
Hooper goes on to claim that often the word “Islamist” is used by “Islam-bashers” who “disingenuously” claim to hate political Islam, though deep in their hearts they hate all Islam. As proof of his assertion, he accuses the alleged Islamophobes of failing to explain how a practicing Muslim can be politically active without attracting the label “Islamist.” After all, he writes, Muslims who wish to serve the “public good” and are merely “influenced” by their faith are slapped with the label “Islamist.” He professes that they just want to work for the “welfare of humanity and to be honest and just,” and if that same inspiration had eminated from the Bible instead of the Quran, they’d be deemed “good Samaritans.”
However, Hooper allows one exception for when use of the word “Islamist” is acceptable, and that is when it is used by Islamists themselves.
And therein lies the rub. It’s not really the word to which Hooper is objecting. It is the negative connotation which serves to “defame Islam.” In the eyes of CAIR and other Islamist organizations, anything that sheds a negative light on Islam or Muslims constitutes “defamation,” even if it’s true. This is a definition at odds with that in the American legal system which requires defamation to consist of a false statement of fact.
So the real agenda of CAIR and its ilk is not to stop “bigotry” against Islam or Muslims, but to whitewash and obfuscate the truth and propagate a disinformation campaign about, yes, Islamist terrorism, Islamist persecution of religious minorities and Islamist human rights violations, all of which are done in furtherance of the ultimate goal of Islamist Supremacy.
The word “Islamist” has negative connotations because the underlying idea that the word represents is negative in the minds of freedom loving people. Any cosmetic word change that carries the same meaning will eventually attach a negative connotation as well.
The real issue here is not to let the Islamist thought police like CAIR remove the arsenal of words from the English language in service of undermining the War on Terror. Words have meaning and it is critical that we accurately use them to identify our enemies. By placating CAIR’s demands, we tie one hand behind our backs in defending freedom.
Hooper conflates those whose values come from their religious faith and practice it within a constitutional framework, with those who use their faith to undermine constitutional freedoms. The reason news reports don’t contain allegations of Christianist, Hinduist and Judaist politicians is because there are no analogous political movements cloaked in the language of other faiths which seek to subvert the government and replace it with so-called “religious” institutions to be dominated by a monolith.
Though it isn’t incumbent on reporters to explain to the likes of CAIR how a Muslim can be influenced by his faith without being labeled “Islamist,” for Hooper’s benefit, it is laid out here:
1. Consider Islam a spiritual practice and not a political ideology to be imposed on others.
2. Do not work toward the merging of mosque and state.
3. Don’t demand that infidels comply with Islamic laws.
4. Support equality under the law between Muslims and non-Muslims, and between men and women.
5. Support freedom and refrain from advocating for anti-Constitutional measures such as restrictions on freedom of speech or special preferences in the workplace not afforded to those of other faiths.
6. Stop supporting terrorist organizations such as Hamas and Hezbollah and start supporting national security measures that will protect American citizens from terrorist attacks including terrorist attacks by Muslims.
Muslims who can’t practice their version of Islam without violating these rules, accurately warrant the label “Islamist.”
It makes sense that Hooper would object to the negative connotations inherent in the word “Islamist” since the organization he represents qualifies for that label. CAIR has close connections to Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood. It was an unindicted co-conspirator in the largest terror-financing trial in the history of the United States. Several of its former leaders sit in jail on terrorism-related convictions. And, its current leadership is well known to be empathetic to Hamas and Hezbollah, both State-designated terrorist organizations which seek the obliteration of the State of Israel.
CAIR serves as an apologist for what is commonly called “creeping Sharia.” It opposes every free speech stance that might be deemed anti-Islamic even if it’s true. CAIR has also opposed every national security measure that would protect American citizens from Islamist terrorism.
During the meetings from which CAIR sprung into existence, its founders proudly referred to themselves as Islamists. They fully believe in and support the ultimate vision of a worldwide Sharia State, where Islam reigns supreme over all other religions.
But, whether the term is spoken by those who favor or abhor its meaning, an Islamist by any other name is still an Islamist. Journalists have a duty to report the truth even when, and perhaps especially when, the subjects of the information find it offensive.
By Deborah Weiss