Claire Berlinski has called my attention to a new push among European Union officials to clamp down on language that “cause[s] frustration among Muslims and increase[s] the risk of radicalisation”. A prime example of a necessary change is the banning of the phrase “Islamic terrorism” to describe…uh…Islamic terrorism. The phrase that should be used instead is “terrorists who abusively invoke Islam”.
This new phrase is part of a “non-emotive lexicon for discussing radicalisation” the EU officials have devised. They plan to submit it for adoption by European governments, the European Commission and the European Parliament.
Well, I think this is a swell idea. Heaven knows that when faced with a billion-strong religion well-stocked with highly vocal people eager to kill you and your children and destroy every vestige of your civilization, what’s needed is to call a spade an unembossed multi-functional gravy ladle and earth re-sifter.
Frankly, I don’t think the Europeans have gone far enough. It’s all well and good to instruct ignorant Westerners on how to communicate effectively with members of the Religion of Peace. But the next step, surely, is to instruct us on how to interpret the language the Religion of Peace uses towards us.
I’ll just kick off with a couple of easy ones and you boys in Brussels can take it from there.
1. “Israel should be wiped from the map.” — Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President of Iran
We must first of all congratulate Ahmadinejad for bravely using the word “Israel”, which was for many years verboten among the more radical Islamic regimes. His use of “Israel” in a speech to be broadcast to the Arab street — rather than “Zionist Entity” or “Little Satan” — can only be interpreted as a sign of his desire to bring peace to the Middle East. The subtlety of his expression of a desire for peace, particularly to so notoriously difficult an audience, should be applauded, not denounced.
Note too that he does not say “I want to wipe Israel from the map” or “We will wipe Israel from the map,” which are expressions of intent. He says, “Israel should be wiped from the map,” which is an expression of preference. Civilized people do not censor one another’s opinions and desires, and they certainly don’t attack one another because of them. Indeed, Ahmadinejad is to be again congratulated for expressing himself with words and not actions. We might suggest that the Israelis take a lesson from this while they’re firing up their F-16s.
There is no reason to infer future hostile action on Ahmadinejad’s part from this simple statement of opinion. We are aware that there are those — particularly on the American right coast, if you catch our drift — who interpret his nuclear program as hostile, but he has stated repeatedly that his intentions are entirely peaceful. To disbelieve him without ample hard evidence would be unconscionably racist. And besides, even if he were putting together a bomb or two, it’s entirely his right, given that Israel has the bomb already. It is not our place to pick and choose who is capable of precipitating global nuclear annihilation. That wouldn’t be fair.
Also, we feel compelled to point out: Ahmadinejad didn’t say Europe should be wiped off the map. He said Israel. Israel’s an awfully small country, and it’s caused quite a lot of trouble. He might be onto something is all we’re saying. Think big picture.
2. Muslim demonstration grab-bag from the Cartoon Jihad: “Behead”, “Slay,” “Exterminate”, “Massacre,” “Annihilate”, “Holocaust”.
Here we have to be careful to avoid the temptation — all too often the downfall of our friends across the Atlantic, alas — to be too literal-minded. True, the terms listed above are startling to Western eyes, but remember that the Muslims who paraded them through British and European streets were simply yearning to be heard in the wake of an appalling provocation.
If we truly believe in the right of freedom of speech, we cannot condemn selected individuals for exercising that right on our own soil. Indeed, the incendiary language of the Muslim protests stands as an eloquent rebuke to our own hypocrisy, particularly since the protesters stopped short of actually slaughtering any large groups of Europeans. Such dignified restraint in the face of our contempible disrespect for their sensibilities was intended to humiliate us. It did, and we deserved it.
Drop me a line if you need any more text interpretations. I’m happy to help.