14 July 2005

One more thing about language games and the politics of war and justice...

I have another thought about political correctness and our use of the word terrorism. Someone will doubtless try to frame this as a contradiction of what I posted yesterday, but it's really just the flip side of the same point:

Sometimes the term terrorism itself is employed in a way that deliberately muddies reality. Such as in the expression "The War on Terror."

It irks me that we always speak of the current unpleasantness as a battle against "terrorism." It troubles me that everyone from George Bush to Billy Graham is so keen to insist that Islam is "a religion of peace," as if this fight had nothing to do with Islam but were only about the principle of terrorism. And it drives me insane to see how the mainstream media, the government, and even most Western religious leaders are programed so that they regularly, automatically, and mindlessly intone the same mantra: "The troubles in the world today have nothing whatsoever to do with religion."

In the days when plain-speaking was deemed a virtue, we would have called the strife that now dominates western society what is in reality: a war against radical Islamists and their fanatical belief system. As a matter of fact, the conflict that dominates world news today has everything to do with religion. The aggressors have all been fanatical adherents to one religion in particular.

Here's a clue: It's not the Amish.

Let's face the truth honestly: There is not a great deal of diversity among our enemies in the present conflict. They are all members of the growing jihadist death-cult that cannot be divorced from Islamic fundamentalism. Unless we identify the enemy clearly and focus our energies on defeating that enemy (instead of the vague and ethereal principle we call "terrorism"), we cannot hope to win the war.

Furthermore—as difficult as this is for our secularized, humanistic, postmodernized culture to come to grips with—all religions are not the same. False religion is downright deadly. It is sometimes just as deadly in a worldly and temporal sense as it is in the eternal and spiritual sense. False religion is always evil, though not always manifestly so. But in this case, it is overtly and conspicuously diabolical. Unless we face that fact honestly and courageously, we will never defeat the evil.

This is not a good time in American history for the language police to have the upper hand. It's not an auspicious climate for postmodern sensitivities to color our country's foreign policy. And my expectation is that things are going to continue to get worse for our side in "The War on Terror"—until we wake up and declare war on the Islamofascists, who, after all, are the real enemies here.

Lest we forget:

Lest we forget
From the Washington Post, 13 September 2001

AN IMPORTANT NOTE: I want to make something perfectly clear, because I am pretty sure someone will try to twist the point I am making: I'm not calling for any kind of hostility against all Islam. I realize not all Muslims affirm the radical principles of the jihadists. There are indeed many peaceful Muslims. I know some of them personally. My complaint here is not with them. The point I am making in the above post is about their fundamentalist brothers who think they have a mandate from Allah to exterminate "infidels."

(It needs to be said, however, that if the genuinely peaceful Muslims had been more outspoken from the start in condemning the radical extremists in their midst, the problem would not be nearly as great as it is today. You can bet that if Pentecostals started beheading apostates—or even if they merely threatened to break the kneecaps of people who disagree with their beliefs—all of Christendom would rise together in unison to condemn them loudly. For whatever reasons—perhaps related to the ease with which radical Islamists issue fatwas—that sort of clear and high-volume protest has not even yet been forthcoming from the Muslim "mainstream.")

However, I am not suggesting that because our enemies are driven by religious belief, we ought to wage a "holy war," and advance a different religious cause in favor of Christianity. Biblical Christianity has never advanced at the point of a sword, nor should it (John 18:36).

What I am saying is that our adversaries (who are not merely America's foes, but the mortal enemies of all civilized culture) have formed a large and growing jihadist death-cult. Until that cult is either subdued or eliminated, the strife will continue. Those administering the war on behalf of the civilized world need to face up to that fact and plan their strategy accordingly. The jihadists have made it clear that they will not be pacified. They do not fear death, but love it. Their belief system is the problem, even though the hypertolerant postmodern mind is loath to admit it—or to say that anyone's beliefs are "wrong." But if we don't break out of the postmodern miasma and come to grips with reality here, civilization itself will continue to be tortured and tormented by misguided religious thugs acting in the name of Allah.

I'm sorry to be so un-PC, but reality itself is not PC. If you doubt me, I can point you to a couple of websites that have graphic photographs of several beheaded victims of the jihad.


Jeremy Weaver said...

When are you going to tell us what you really believe? Just kidding.

You wrote:

"And it drives me insane to see how the mainstream media, the government, and even most Western religious leaders are programed so that they regularly, automatically, and mindlessly intone the same mantra: "The troubles in the world today have nothing whatsoever to do with religion.""

You can bet though, if it had been someone claiming to be Christian that had knocked down the WTC or bombed London, that the media would be all over us. They have even tried to brand us with the same crimes as the Islamic, jihadist, terrorists. This of course didn't stick because it wasn't true, but you get the picture.
Another good post Mr. Maniac.

Brad Huston said...


How about loving our enemies? Where does that work in with your view of the terrorists here? Not trying to draw an inference of any kind, I certianly don't know your heart or assume to know, but I am very curious.


David said...

I've only heard one person, Bill Mahr (and I hate agreeing with him), have the nerve to say it out loud: we are at war with Islam. Like you said, it isn't the Amish. Every international terrorist is Muslim. There may be peaceful Muslims, but Islam is not a peaceful religion. A very good book on the subject, co-athored by a former Muslim, is The Dark Side of Islam by R.C Sproul and Abdul Saleeb.

David Kear said...

To comment that "Every international terrorist is Muslim." is at the very least a disregard for most of history. What branch of Islam is the IRA part of? I agree with the war on terror. But, a war on Islam could not be considered a "Just War".

Jeff said...

David and other. I listen to a guy out of Baltimore Maryland on 680 WCBM named Tom Marr from 9am-12 ETS. Here is the audio feed. Tom tells it like it is (regarding Islam) every day. Gets old sometimes, but it is great to hear someone saying that the religion of Islam is the problem (not every muslim).

Phil Johnson said...

David Kear:

Get serious. The IRA has nothing to do with the current "war on terror." If you don't understand that, no wonder you missed the point.

Once more: This is not a war against the IRA, gang violence in our inner cities, or old Bela Lugosi movies. It is NOT a war against "terror." It's a war against Islamic jihadism.

The fact that you and others like you WON'T get it is part of the problem.

Joe L. said...

Spot on Phil, thanks.


David Kear said...

I would start out by saying that I read your blog almost daily and am in agreement with much of what you say. I find it thought provoking and interesting. My comments are intended with the utmost respect.

However, I don't believe that anyone can tell what I will or will not get after reading one very short comment.

I can agree that we are at war with Islamic jihadism. But, I can not agree that Islamic jihadism is not divisible from the rest of Islam. That is no more true than saying that there is no distinction between those who are Christian and those who call themselves Christian or act in the name of Christianity. I certainly would not want to be held "guilt by association" to many so called Christian organizations whether they are terrorists or not. An example would be Fred Phelps and his group who protest at the funerals of soldiers killed in Iraq. My Christianity is not the Christianity that they claim to have. As far as the comment that I was actually in disagreement with that "Every international terrorist is Muslim". It is simply not true. There are at least 13 different non-Islamic international terror groups listed by the U.S. government as Designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations. It is true that we are not at war with them. But, maybe we should be.

Thanks for allowing my comments.

Jeri said...

What you fail to make clear in this post is that most Moslems, even if they feel an ethical sympathy for bin Laden (or at least a similar distaste for America) are not terrorists. This world holds a huge population of Moslems. The jihadists are a small group.

And what you seem to have missed, Phil, is that we are not at war with jihadists, except on paper. We are at war in Iraq, a country that the jihadists also hated. In Iraq, we are fighting Moslems, but they are motivated by political issues, the largest of which is to either claim or retain the edge of power in Iraq. It's not a Taliban-type culture at all, and even though a few people here and there may mouth a few words about Allah, the real issues is which minority will emerge on top in their government. We *ought* to be fighting jihad in the moountains of Afghanistan, but in the name of "The War on Terror," Bush has launched us into this campaign in Iraq, a nation that had nothign to do with 9/11.

Just as you wouldn't like all Christendom to be linked, politically, socially, or even theolgoically, with people who blow up abortion clinics or members of the IRA, please exercise care in saying "not all Moslems are terrorists." The fact is, most Moselms are not terrorists.

As for the mis-use of the word terrorist, George Bush needs to blur the distinction and eliminate the religion factor or else people would notice that the insurgents in Iraq are motivated by politics and the guerillas of Al Qaeda are motivated by religious fanaticism and the Palestinian Liberation sub-groups are motivated by revenge for having their lands seized. He can only maintain this "War on terror" by making sure that Americans view all of them as mindless, raving terrorists. If we accept as a premise that they cannot be reasoned with or that some of them may actually have legitimate grievances, then he gets to wage war where ever he pleases, as long as he can point to anything he can call "terrorism," whether it is religious, political, or social in nature.

This war is indeed about religion. It is also about the exploitation of religion, and it is also about religious prejudices. I grant you that the religion of Islam is a fallen religion, as are all fallen religions. The solution for fallen religions is conversion to Christ, not war. And the worst fallen religion of all is a de-Christed Christianity that believes war leads to a rapture, the president is God's prophet, and there can exist two Peoples of God, one political and one spiritual and both entitled to take whatever they think belongs to them. Such a false religion as this never accepts responsibility for its own history of abusing or defrauding others and neatly labels its enemies as "terrorists," or "witches," or "unbelievers" or whatever propagandistic term comes readily to mind.

Nutriaboy said...

Well said Phil, however I would ask a further question.

Are these Muslims that have declared jihad on the non-Islamic nations really the 'radicals'? Given the advocation of violence in the 'utter destruction' of the infidels given in the Koran, isn't it more accurate to say that the peace-loving Muslims are the true 'radicals'? Are not these 'extremists' actually mainstream in that they are just doing what their 'faith' calls them to do?

If so, we need to stop calling these terrorists 'extremists' and simply call them who they are, 'true Muslims'.

Family Blogs said...

Hi Phil
You have a great blog going here, and I now visit it as regularly as I do your 'Bookmarks' and 'Hall of Church History'. Also can I say that theologically I am in line with most (if not all) of what you have to share.
I do feel, however, that care needs to be taken in any depiction of terrorism. I am not postmodern, and I despise the PC environment that is seeking to clap a hand over our mouths in these days. But terrorism and the causes of terrorism are never simple. I am from Northern Ireland, and have watched for the best part of my life men, women and children being slaughtered by terrorists. Throughout the years of the 'Troubles' religion was often blamed. People characterised the conflict as being between Protestants and Catholics, when in actual fact neither side bore any resemblance to those two religious perspectives. Then other people said it was a political war, being fought with fervour over the partition of Ireland. In actual fact, though, it is now clear that there was communication and at times collusion between so called 'warring factions'. What was the base cause of such conflict then? A whole range of social factors: the lure of extremism to young hormonally charged males, the traditions of family groups, the enormous pressure of peer groups, the ghettoisation of our society, the carelessness of political and religious leaders in their calls to arms, and the list could go on. At base though, I think the cause was fallenness.
Now the problem I have with your last post is that:

1. You are intellectually sophisticated enough to hold a balanced and nuanced view of Islam - in its extreme and its peaceful forms. Many of your readers may not. For George Bush or Tony Blair to declare a 'War on Islamic Jihadism' could have disastrous consequences for Muslim communities across the world, where dimwitted thugs would relish the opportunity to rough up some Muslims in the name of justice or ethics. An example of this was the rather ironic incident that happened here in Northern Ireland four years ago. A few days after September 11th someone threw a brick through the window of the local mosque here in Belfast! Go figure!!!

2. You can't separate Al Queda's activity from groups such as the IRA. Both consist of killers without conscience, who are willing to wage war on anyone who does not agree with their warped and evil logic. This distinction, I feel, lies at the heart of America's problem in waging war on terror anywhere in the world. How many Armalites were funded by American institutions throughout our period of 'Troubles'. The AK47 was known as the widow-maker, and America helped many IRA volunteers along the way to owning there very own weapon!
For America to look at the world through the awful palls of smoke that descended on September 11th 2001 and decide to 'clean up the globe', strikes me as hypocritical, unethical, and a kick in the teeth to those of us who endured terror for thirty years. To say that the IRA has nothing to do with this issue, is to subscribe to the same mentality as the political leaders of the IRA who, in an act of supreme duplicity, condemned the London bombings, and pretended that the IRA only killed legitimate targets. I could give you a long list of victims who fall very far outside of that category.

Your site is great, Phil, and I commend you for your strong stand on things. I just felt I had to clear my chest on this. May God bless you in all your ministry - particularly with Grace to You, which has been a massive encouragement in my own ministry.

JMFjr said...

Phil I agree with all of your comments, but I must stress that in addition to our governments action to fight this hatred is our commitment to the supernatural power of the Gospel to change people's hearts. In the long run that is our only hope for the change of man's fallen nature.

John Schroeder said...

Great Post

Kim said...

I may be revealing just how terribly obtuse I am, but does this war not having a little something to do with oil?

Dave said...

Obviously Jeri has an agenda! And obviously Jeri, and a few others here, miss the entire point.

Two thoughts...

1. There is a great distinction between "most of Islam" and the "fundamentalists." Interesting use of that term isn't it? Fundamentalist - one who takes something directly, literally, authoritatively. A Christian Fundamentalist takes literally the Word of God. An Islamic Fundamentalist takes literally the Quran - as was already quoted. Until our leaders and the American people realize that the chief end of Islamic fundamentalism will not be realized until all infidels (that includes most of here on this blog) are exterminated, we will never make any progress. Intersting how people want the Moslem world to have religious freedom, but they don't want Christianity to have religious freesom.

2. Bush will NEVER call this a war on Islam, or even Isalmis fundamentalism, nor will any politician or political activist. That would isolate a large (mostly conservative) voting block. If Bush (or Dobson) isolate those "partners" in their common goal of conservative politics, they loose a lot of power. Therein is the problem with overt political actvism, we must mask the Truth to accomplish politcal reform.

See Phil's chapter in Fool's Gold.

David said...

David Kear,

Yes, as a matter of fact I am aware of the IRA, which is why I specifically said "every international terrorist is Muslim." The IRA operates inside the UK (Tom Clancy writes fiction, you know).

David Kjos

Jeri said...

Yes reformer, I have a very sinister agenda: I believe that Americans have a right to know exactly why they are going to war, exactly who they are fighting, and exactly what the objective of the war is. Any confusion on those points is the result of gross incompetence or gross deception. Confusion on all three points is blatant incompetence or deception.

And I notice, in spite of your effort to disparage me, that you cannot refute my facts.

The Man said...

Awesome responses, Jeri- you nailed it!

Editor said...

This is our enemy:

"We love death more than you love life."

That's the reality the language SS needs to wake up to.

Frank Martens said...

Is that a picture of a child with explosives strapped to himself at the top?

If so, that's sad, just sad. Not that you post it, but that he's only a child!

Jeri said...

>>>Is it the *non-jihadists* who are blowing themselves up, and are the subject of American military operations in Iraq?<<

Yes, it is non-jihadists who are blowing themselves up to get the US out of Iraq. They are not fighting for Islamic supremacy over Christianity but for Iraqi sovereignty over Iraq.

Just like the kamikaze pilots in Japan used culturally embedded practices derived from their religion to destroy Americans in WWII, the suicide bombers in Iraq are using culturally embedded practices derived from their religion to destroy Americans in Iraq. But if we were not there, they would not be interested. They are not AL Qaeda; They do not have a cultural background to destroy all other faiths but Islam and every version of Islam except their own.

They are insurgents who want us off their territory, and they are as much subject to ethnic prejudices as religious ones in trying to secure power for their own racial-cultural subset within the multi-ethnic Iraqi society. But their ultimate aims, whatever their methods, are political---getting us out of their country.

Unlike the fanatical Osama bin Laden and his crowd who went on the offensive to harm us and discredit us, the insurgents in Iraq are not the Taliban, and they are responding to our presence in their country and the upset of their government.

Jeri said...

aquascum, I think you are infatuated with me. But I will type this slowly so that you can read it better.

The two largest groups of insurgents in Iraq are the Ba'athist party and the Nationalist party. The Ba'athists are political: they want to be reinstated as the ruling party in Iraq. The Ba'athist party is the most effective party of the resistance (or they were, anyway). The Ba'athists are made up of former military commanders, security operatives, and members of the previous regime's power infrastructure. It is widely suspected that their orders were to melt into the landscape when the US first attacked, wait until we were entrenched, and then begin guerilla warfare to prevent the US from establishing a non-Ba'athist (or non Saddam) government.

The Nationalists are mostly of Sunni ethnicity, and their primary goal is expulsion of coalition troops from Iraq and the restoration of the Sunni minority in the political process. Although they may descend from time to time into soapbox rhetoric, their aims are for ethnic supremacy of the Sunnis in the political power structure of Iraq. They don't liek other Moslems who are not Sunni (like the Shia), and they don't trust them. They use tactics of insurgency, but they also work through the political process.

The two parties listed above have the lion's share of educated strategists for formulating insurgency as well as financial resources to support themselves. They are political in nature, and their ends are political. They seek political power.

On the low-scale end of insurgency, the Mahdi Army is a polyglot of conservative Islamic beliefs combined with nationalism. Its members are uneducated and impoverished. They are fueled by grievances against the US, but their ultimate ends are political rather than religious.

The most purely religious group(s) are headed up by Sunni Clerics who espouse brotherhood between all Moslems. Unlike the larger Nationalist party, the clerical party openly seeks union with Shia Moslems and espouses a primarily religious revival of Fundamental Islam.

Moslem infiltration from disgruntled Saudis is another factor in the insurgency. These boys are the real thing: Moslem fanatics. But they came from the country that our government has propped up for decades, the despotic government that has resulted from America itself preventing democracy from gaining a foothold in Saudi Arabia.

If we need to rid the world of the death-cult of jihadic Islam, than President Bush need look no further than our "good friends" the Saudis. Freeze their assets; hold up their money, and jihad will be crippled. But there's no way Bush will do it.

The religious exploitation that is going on in this war doesn't entirely come from the Moslems or the Middle East. There are people in this country who will follow anybody who names Jesus Christ and do anything he says, (especially if he is in power, because surely that means God has blessed him) even if he gives no evidence of truly being in Christ, and even if his ideas are sheer madness.

John Haller said...

"The Nationalists are mostly of Sunni ethnicity"


Sunni is a sect of Islam, that's a religion, not an ethnic group. I suppose you think Kurd is a religion?

I thought only the NYT was capable of statements like that. You really need to stop listening to Air America and reading some other things that might pry open that mind of yours. Go ahead. Try it.

And not all of us are happy with President Bush. We think he does not support Israel ENOUGH...

John Haller said...

From the CIA world factbook on Iraq

Ethnic groups:
Arab 75%-80%
Kurdish 15%-20%
Turkoman, Assyrian or other 5%

Muslim 97% (Shi'a 60%-65%, Sunni 32%-37%), Christian or other 3%

Frankly, I don't care whether Iraq had anything to do with 9.11. I do care that they had plenty to do with "terror". That, Jeri, is the point.

steve said...

Jeri's allegation that the Iraq war is a distraction from the real war on terrorism is deceptive, for Jeri is also opposed to the war in Afghanistan:

Only a week ago, she posted the following:

“By the way, if the US forces had poured into Afghanistan and arrested Osama bin Laden like justice demanded after 9/11, Al Qaeda could be a thing of the past now and perhaps today's events would never have happened.”


Some of us will remember that this is the position taken by Moveon.org and other radical organizations right after 9/11.

Don't treat this as an act of war. No, march into Afghanistan, serve UBL with an arrest warrant issued by the Kofi Annan, extradite him to the World Court in the Haag, have him Mirandized, lawyered up, swaddled in the Geneva Conventions--the whole nine yards.

Jonathan Moorhead said...

Myopia is a serious disease. Instead of listening to NPR and watching the BBC, perhaps some of our friends should just sit and study UBL’s interpretation of the Koran and see that it is not radical at all, but rather literal. As Phil has mentioned, the next step is to actually see how this is fleshed out (pardon the pun) in real life. Since our Western understanding of death is very sterile and neat, I have the sick idea that it might actually be healthy for some people to view the very explicit, “ogrish” websites that display the photos/videos of the true face of Islam. Only then can we begin to grasp the nature of these people and what lies ahead for our American cities.