It was a "stark reminder," President Bush said in his first public reaction to the events, that "this nation is at war with Islamic fascists," seeking to destroy freedom-loving societies.The CAIR (Council on American/Islamic Relations) spokesman immediately denounced this term.
"Unfortunately, your statement this morning that America 'is at war with Islamic fascists' contributes to a rising level of hostility to Islam and the American-Muslim community," wrote Parvez Ahmed, board chairman of the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations in an open letter to President Bush Thursday.
"You have on many occasions said Islam is a 'religion of peace'," he wrote. "Today you equated the religion of peace with the ugliness of fascism."
Of course, Bush did not do that. Bush was referring to a specific group of Islamic radicals. CAIR is the one insisting that any reference to a Muslim must be a reference to all Moslems.MSNBC questioned the term, implying that it is a new one invented by neo-conservatives. They even suggested that the term was invented by Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa. as part of his re-election campaign. Since I have been seeing conservative writers use this and the shorter Islamo-fascism for years, this is a strange article. It goes on to question if fascism can be applied to the goals of the terrorists.
Stanford University linguist Goeffrey Nunberg argues that fascism is not really the right word to describe this global terror network.Is this true? There is no connection between al-Quaida (a recent invention) and fascism (which died with Franco in 1975). There were strong connections with most of the Arab countries and fascism, especially Nazism during WWII.
"There's no historical or philosophical connection between al-Qaida and fascism," says Nunberg, an expert on the language of politics. "They're creepy people, but that doesn't mean they're fascist."
The word fascism is usually associated with a particularly oppressive government, almost always hostile to religious clerics, he says. In the United States, it is most commonly associated with Hitler's bloody Nazi regime.
Nunberg says the term "fascist" has been broadly abused throughout the last few decades — by the Left and the Right to mean anyone, or even anything, oppressive and cruel. Although it has lost its definition, he says, it retains its emotional impact.
"Fascism is the epitome of evil," he says. "If you want to say something is as evil as evil can be, then its fascism."
Definitions aside, Nunberg says if the administration wants to stay the course in Iraq, and push difficult but unpopular security policies, its choice of words might be effective.
"Given that they have decided on this strategy, then the analogies to fascism seem rhetorically the smart thing to do in a certain sense," he says. "You want to evoke these 'just wars' of the past."
Is fascism almost always hostile to religious clerics? Not according to the Wikipedia entry on fascism:
Some expressions of fascism have been closely linked with religious political movements. This combination is referred to as Clerical fascism, a prime example of which is the Ustashe in Croatia.Also, fascism, especially the Nazi variety, has been openly hostile to Jews. Hamas and Hezbollah have endorsed Hitler's Final Solution .
The government that bin Laden wants to establish across the world sounds very much like this:
Fascism is also typified by totalitarian attempts to impose state control over all aspects of life: political, social, cultural, and economic.
Other relevant sections:
Fascism in Italy arose in the 1920s as a mixture of syndicalist notions with an anti- materialist theory of the state; the latter had already been linked to an extreme nationalism. [...] It tended to reject the Marxist notion of social classes and universally dismissed the concept of class conflict, replacing it instead with the struggle between races, and the struggle of the youth versus their elders. This meant embracing nationalism and mysticism, and advancing ideals of strength and power as means of legitimacy, glorifying war as an end in itself and victory as the determinant of truth and worthiness.All of this seems very much like the restored Caliphate that bin Laden wants to create.
So, why did a major news outlet go to lengths to discredit this term?