Naming the Enemy
“Radical Islam poses a grave risk to the stability of nations and the well-being of their citizens.”
- Rex Tillerson, Secretary of State Nominee
During Secretary of State-nominee Rex Tillerson’s confirmation hearings, he implicitly described, in one sentence, two of the most important failures of the Obama administration in dealing with Islamic terrorists. The first is the fact that Obama refuses to describe Islam accurately. The second is the fact that, when we fail to name something accurately, we effectively foreclose any rational discussion of that thing. It is impossible to have a full discussion of a problem that we refuse to name, especially when that refusal signals deeper underlying issues.
The refusal to identify radical Islam has pervaded the liberal media through, among other things, the Associated Press Stylebook. That manual, which “is widely used as a writing and editing reference in newsrooms, classrooms and corporate offices worldwide” and is “the definitive resource for journalists,” instructs journalists not to use “Islamist” to describe terrorists or jihadists.
This rule was suggested by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (“CAIR”) which the U.S. government acknowledges as a front for Hamas. In advocating for the change, CAIR urged the AP to take the same approach to “Islamist” as it does to “fundamentalist," which states that the label should not be used unless a group applies the term to itself.
Using this rationale, terrorists will never be called “terrorists.” As noted by John Guandolo, founder of Understanding the Threat, “This is an information war more than anything else.” The jihadis understand this and have been using our refusal to name them against us. Contrary to the liberal left rationale, naming the enemy accurately does not play into the hands of the terrorists. To the contrary, by actively refusing to name the problem, we are helping them wage their jihad.
This is not just a policy issue. Neuroscience has proven that our right brain, which reacts out of fear and emotion, can be governed by our left brain, which responds to logic and reason. However, if we can’t even name what we are dealing with, how can we ever talk about a response? As Guandolo says, “If you don’t identify the enemy, you cannot target the enemy. If you cannot target the enemy you cannot destroy the enemy and you lose the war.”
And that, of course, is the key. The reality is that many do not want us to respond. They seem to think that we can hug the problem away. As the past eight years have shown, with among other things the increasing number of attacks within America and the ever-growing terrorist presence inside our borders, those tactics are not working.
The Trump Administration seems unafraid to call these attacks what they are, so I am optimistic that our President and his administration will take appropriate action against a named enemy. Whether we ultimately win the war depends on the continued awareness of each of us and our ongoing commitment to secure our communities and make our families safe.