Federal agencies, including the State Department, the Department of Homeland Security and the National Counter Terrorism Center, are telling their people not to describe Islamic extremists as "jihadists" or "mujahedeen," according to documents obtained by The Associated Press. Lingo like "Islamo-fascism" is out, too."Islamo-fascism" never made much sense. "Islamic fundamentalism" is a better descriptor of the ideological force driving terrorist attacks on Western targets. Of course, such a phrase indictes Islam as a compelling engine of the contemporary international terrorist problem. Can't have any of that.
The reason: Such words may actually boost support for radicals among Arab and Muslim audiences by giving them a veneer of religious credibility or by causing offense to moderates.
For example, while Americans may understand "jihad" to mean "holy war," it is in fact a broader Islamic concept of the struggle to do good, says the guidance prepared for diplomats and other officials tasked with explaining the war on terror to the public. Similarly, "mujahedeen," which means those engaged in jihad, must be seen in its broader context.
Can Islam be stripped of its martial essence? Tough to see how that'll be pulled off, since Islam's central figure, an expansionist military leader, is having revealed to him (and his followers) the commands and teachings of God throughout the Koran.
In contemporary Christianity, by contrast, the divinely blessed violent conquests are in books most Christians know almost nothing about. Joshua paraded around Jericho and it fell, right? Oh, the walls fell and then all the inhabitants inside (including livestock) were massacred? My pastor never told me that. Judges, I assume, has to do with ideals of justice, right? Oh, you mean it's a compendia of accounts of the violent military expansion and contraction of Israel under various obscure leaders? Huh, wasn't aware.
Christians primarily pay attention to the four gospels (especially Luke and John) which together comprise about one-tenth of the Good Book. And that 10% doesn't condone violent militancy at all.
We'd be better off pointing out the strong connection between Islam and terrorism against the West and then doing everything we are able to do to separate Islam and the West from one another.