I keep hearing the phrase “islamofascist.” What does that even mean? I thought I’d do some research to try and figure it out, so I used good old reliable Wikipedia, surely the bane of english composition teachers in every high school around the nation, and I found:
Anyhow, in reading through this, I came to the following conclusions:
- The term “fascist” has no clear contemporary meaning.
- Politicians use the word “fascist” to try to inspire some sort of indirect connection with regimes that have been dead for half a century, whose politics and theories have no contemporary counterpart.
- Textbook fascism has nothing to do with terrorists, islamic fundamentalism, or anything in Iraq.
- A good example of a fascist state, in the classical sense, is North Korea, if I understand correctly. There is nothing fascist in the middle east.
This is all based on very cursory research; does anybody have some better context or insight on this? I’m not trying to say my understanding is correct, but rather that I think, at least to my perception of the world, that this word seems to have a lot of historical meaning, but doesn’t really make any sense. As best as I can tell, the phrase “islamofascist” has about as much meaning, respect, and power as a phrase like “islamic jerks.”
In any event, wikipedia once again came to the rescue. No, Wikipedia is not a paragon of accuracy, but it achieves more ability to be socially correct and up to date than any comparable published reference. Here’s the introduction to the above linked page, my emphasis added:
Islamofascism is a neologism and political epithet used to induce an association of the ideological or operational characteristics of certain modern Islamist movements with European fascist movements of the early 20th century, neofascist movements, or totalitarianism. Organizations that have been labeled “Islamofascist” include Al-Qaeda, the current Iranian government, the Taliban, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, and Hezbollah. None label themselves fascist, however, and critics of the term argue that associating the religion of Islam with fascism is both offensive and historically inaccurate.
So at least I’m not alone in thinking this phrase is offensive and reeks of ignorance. Why is there such resistance to acknowledge things for what they are? Call terrorists by their real title — terrorists.
In any event, in trying to research and understand all of this, I came across an interesting article on this terminology (not wikipedia this time, it has references). Excerpt follows:
Behind the battle over usage lies another struggle, over the nature of the phenomenon itself. In fact, the two contests, over English usage and analytical understanding, are inseparable. Nor are they free of associations left by past usages. Here follows a short history of changing usageâ€”itself a history of changing Western perceptions of Muslim reality.
For a culture that seems so heart-set on political correctness, political and religious freedom, and forward thinking, throwing this “islamofascist” label around so casually seems unfortunate.