Rhetoric or reality?

However one rates George W. Bush's skills as a wartime leader, said Harvey Kushner in Newsday, we should at least all be grateful that he's finally identified the enemy. After five years of 'œpolitically correct' blather about the 'œwar on terror,' the president last week called the foiling of a plot to blow up trans-Atlantic airliners as a victory in 'œthe war against Islamic fascists.' This is not a president known for his tact or verbal deftness, said the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel in an editorial, but for once he got it right. The term Islamofascism may not sit well with some Muslims, but the fact is that 'œa significant segment of the Muslim faith has been hijacked by fascists, so why not call them that?'Â

This isn't a matter of political correctness, said linguist Geoffrey Nunberg in the Los Angeles Times. It's a matter of accuracy, and by that standard, 'œthe war against Islamic fascists' is just more fuzzy thinking. Islamic terrorists are not, properly speaking, fascists. Fascism, as practiced by Hitler and Mussolini, exploited national pride and glorified the power of the state. Islamic fundamentalists like Osama bin Laden and Hezbollah's Hassan Nasrallah owe no loyalty to any state. Their loyalty is to Islam, as they understand it. By lumping secular ex-Baathist insurgents, Shiite death squads, al Qaida, Hezbollah, Palestinian militants, and disaffected British-born Pakistanis under one term, Bush reduces 'œa complex story to a simple fable.' The deception is deliberate, because it enables Bush to lump the unpopular war in Iraq with the conflict against terrorists who've targeted the U.S. and the West. All these various enemies are dangerous, 'œbut that doesn't mean they're all of a single mind and purpose, or that a blow against any one of them is a blow against the others.'

Jonah Goldberg

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