From shit to Islamofascism, Bush liberates language


I've been too successfully tuning out politicians lately. President Bush has been using the term "Islamic fascist" for two months now?

[P]art of the challenge in the 21st century is to remind people about the stakes and remind people that in moments of quiet, there's still an Islamic fascist group plotting, planning and trying to spread their ideology.

Kudos to Christopher Hitchens or whoever originated this absurd phrase, which has now ascended to the mesosphere of normalcy, detente, enemies list, expletive deleted, other great presidential parts of speech. Now it's time for Michael Medved to redouble his efforts to get Islamo-Nazi into the mix.

NEXT: James Van Allen, R.I.P.

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  1. The phrase is mostly absurd, given the obvious fact that Islamism is a transnational ideology not tied to a specific ethnicity or race. But to the extent that Islam is deemed by Islamists as something that a person doesn’t choose, but rather “submits” to (consider the uproar from Islamists over individuals who were born Muslims but choose to convert), and that said Islamists define themselves as being part of an Islamic “nation” that needs to be perpetually at war with those outside of it, it might not be entirely absurd.

    Or to put it more succintly, Islamism is nothing like fascism in form, but may be a little like it in function.

  2. I just noticed his use of that today too.

    Has that term been used to describe terrorists among us for long? I don’t recall hearing even Al Qaeda called “islamo-fascist” before.

    It might be descriptive for, say, the Taliban, and I remember hearing it used to describe Hussein in Iraq–not that the “islamo” part would seem to fit that case. I’m not so sure the “islamo” part really fits any pan-Arabist type–hasn’t pan-Arabism always been a competitor to theocracy?

    I suppose Iran might fit the moniker “islamo-fascist”, but if I had to name one regime where the name really seems to fit, I think it’d have to be Saudi Arabia. As in, “I once saw the President holding hands with an islamo-fascist.”

  3. I always thought it was interesting that when referring to terrorists they use the term “islamist” but never “muslim”. There’s no difference, right?

  4. I noticed Dubya wrote his remarks today on the back of an envelope a la Honest Abe.
    My point is that even back then, Honest knew a “focus group tested” phrase. Hell, that is the only currency of politicians.


  5. Trying to woo the Cheetos-stained mom’s basement plus-sized warblogger vote I guess. This is from the “no lefty idea too stupid for rightwingers to steal” file. Something unpleasant = fascism. Imagine talking to your filthy hippy roomate:

    – Dude, get off the couch and get a job.

    – No way. Fascist. I’m busy getting the band back together. Any Doritos left?

  6. You know, that reminds me of a tale of Christofascism starring Jonh Cleese and Eric Idle.

  7. Why the swipe at Christopher Hitchens?

  8. Maybe the prez meant to refer to them as islamo-fanatics…and he just messed up his islamo-phonetics

  9. I noticed Dubya wrote his remarks today on the back of an envelope a la Honest Abe.

    Well, we know he read them off the back of an envelope, but I’d be shocked to learn he actually wrote them.

  10. Why the swipe at Christopher Hitchens?

    I think Hitchens is a friend of Reason and, anyway, I don’t see the swipe.

  11. Yes, yes, it’s ridiculous. Aside from the totalitarianism, (wishful) imperialism, cribbing of doctrine and technique, and Jew-hating, there’s absolutely no resemblance at all. For instance, these jackasses wouldn’t know an industrial economy if they tripped over it.

    But Islamic totalitarian-imperialist-antisemite-jackasses doesn’t trip off the tongue quite as gracefully, now does it?

    Christ, not like there aren’t dozens or hundreds of better things to criticize Bush about.

  12. Why the swipe at Christopher Hitchens?

    I think Hitchens is a friend of Reason and, anyway, I don’t see the swipe.

    It’s a swipe. Hitchens is widely (falsely) credited with inventing and/or popularizing the neologism Islamofascist, which he has never in fact used.

  13. Hitchens is widely (falsely) credited with inventing and/or popularizing the neologism Islamofascist

    Hitchens coined the phrase “fascism with an Islamic face,” which was subsequently contracted into the far less melodic “Islamofascism” by other, less talented wordsmiths.

  14. Uh, folks, ‘Islamo-Fascism’ is an old term (almost 1 million hits on Google), with its own Wikipedia entry (Wikipedia Islamo-Fascism Entry) and dates back at least sixteen years. ‘Islamic Fascism’ may well be Bush’s own invention, but the concept ain’t new…
    There’s plenty of controversy over the term, of course, but Bush didn’t invent it tonight, or even last week.
    Geoff, being the pedantic linguist again…

  15. I think Hitchens is a friend of Reason….

    That’s why I inquired about the swipe (the swipe that you don’t see). Characterizing someone’s creation as ‘absurd’ is a swipe where I am from. Not the worst swipe in the world, but a slight swipe none the less.

  16. I first recall hearing it from Dave Emory, who did a lot of research on historic cx between Arabs & Nazis, which relationships he traces to activity in the present day.

  17. I’m a great fan of Big Tim Cavanaugh’s “Chrislamofascism.” Go syncretism!

  18. “islamist” but never “muslim”. There’s no difference, right?

    You can be Muslim and not be an islamist.

    Islamism = wants to reestablish the caliphate on any lands that have ever been Muslim.

  19. dates back at least sixteen years

    Well shut my mouth.

  20. trying to fit present day conflicts into ww2 mentality. everyone is using someone else to fight for them. it obscures the inability to fight enemies directly – but everyone is doing it.

  21. Why the swipe at Christopher Hitchens?

    Why does Cavanaugh have to fellate Hitchens ? just because Hitchens deigned to grant Reason an interview and a blurb for their book?

  22. Great, so, now Cavanaugh is accused of both taking a swipe at Hitchens and kissing his ass.

    Has it occurred to either of you that Cavanaugh may be quite genuinely crediting Hitchens for apparently weaving a word into our collective unconscious? Don’t wordsmiths and culture critics, regardless of whom they’re playing for, dream of doing that? I hope Cavanaugh’s never heard the one about pearls and pigs.

    …and I don’t remember seeing Cavanaugh kiss any politico’s ass–ever. …and Hitchens has been criticized by Reason staff on this very site in the past.

    P.S. I recognize a discussion of the term is likely to bring ’em out of the woodwork. …and you regulars know what I’m talkin’ about.

    I remember riding those who used “islamo-fascist”. It’s a sign that a person’s arguments probably aren’t worth spending much time on. …Like “asymmetric warfare” among others.

  23. The real test of any collective neologism is its resonance in cuisine. So far , the only two Islamofascist food groups reported are sweet potato pie and exploding falafel.If a third emerges, you’d better get used to the term.

  24. It’s official- Teheran has changed the name of pizza to the Farsi equivalent of ‘stretched dough’

  25. Shultz:

    I wasn’t accusing Cavanaugh of sucking up to Hitchens — I was wondering why TF expected Cavanaugh to do so.

  26. well excuse me.

  27. Personally, I prefer “splodeydope.” It’s more mocking.

  28. Re “fascists” … From Wikipedia: “Fascism is a radical totalitarian political philosophy that combines elements of corporatism, authoritarianism, extreme nationalism, militarism, anti-anarchism, anti-communism and anti-liberalism.”

    Seems to fit the pan-Arab Islamic fundamentalists pretty well, except for the “corporatism” part. The USA on the other hand…

  29. Even among historians there is a lot of debate as to what constitutes fascism, which is one reason to be suspicious of the appropriation of this term by War on Terror enthusiasts. Another is that fascism is generally tied to an upsurge in national feeling, while Bin Laden and others seem to emphasize a pan-nationalist Muslim identity.

    Hitchens, Andrew Sullivan, and others fond of the term tend to either use it to scare us into mobilizing for a clash of civilizations or to puff themselves in the face of the realization that they missed out on some weird romantic experiences they imagine being the essence of World War II.

  30. Oh, come on. A bunch of people that read a political blog are suddenly going to pretend like they’ve never heard the term “islamofascist” before? As much as I dislike this administration, and this term, can we please focus on things that actually matter? Seriously, we’ve got terrorists plotting blowing up planes and our biggest concern is a stupid term used by a stupid president? Really?

  31. Marcvs–
    The question of the term’s propriety matters because it is clearly intended to arouse a visceral support for aggressive administration policies. The linking of the current situation with the past is meant to make us feel that we are just as obligated to move proactively against a few thousand ill-equipped, ill-trained thugs as we were to move against the Wehrmacht and Mussolini.

  32. Has it occurred to either of you that Cavanaugh may be quite genuinely crediting Hitchens for apparently weaving a word into our collective unconscious?

    Kudos to Carl Jung for bringing the ridiculously overused, idiotic, inane, asinine, vacuous term ?collective unconscious? into existence. No swipe at Carl Jung, of course.

  33. Let’s call it Patri-Allahism (or Patri-Allah-archism) and be done with it.

  34. Islamo-fascism is a term the right uses for 2 reasons:

    1. to distract from the religious-fundamentalist character of the terrorists, because of the obvious comparisons with their own ideologies, and

    2. to allow other nasty Muslim governments that have no ideological or operational affinity with Al Qaeda (like the Tikrit Baathists) to be lumped into the same category. Remember, Donald Rumsfeld penned a memo on 9/14/01 saying that this was our opportunity to hit “…not just OBL but SH…”

    I don’t agree that the pan-Arabist component of the jihadist ideology disqualifies them from meeting the “extreme nationalist” plank of fascism, though. Gathering the German nation together, despite international borders, was one of Hitler’s favorite themes. Pan-Arabists like Hussein and Assad could fairly be called Arab fascists.

    The religous dimension of bin Ladenism, particularly the way it looks to a more religiously-pure past, on the other hand, probably does disqualify it as fascism. Fascism requires the elevation of the Volk (not actual people, by any means, but the mythical Volk) into the role of God. The bin Ladenists, on the other hard, identify the elevation of humanity as part of the corrupting influence of the West.

    Now, you can say that the liberal humanism that characterized the West today is not the same thing as the volk-ism of the fascists, but we’re talking about the fundi-jihadists’ ideology, and to them, they are the same.

  35. If the President had failed to play the Islamofascism card , the Caliphatalists ,Hisbulemic Islamarchists and assorted Assad Sacks would be declaring ” I’m Alawite, Jack “

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