The War of Words


Only days after he was ushered in as Britain’s new prime Minister, Gordon Brown embarked on a fresh battle in the war of words against terrorists, instructing his cabinet to drop the use of such terms as “the war on terror” and “Muslim terrorists.”

In doing so Brown not only distinguished himself from his predecessor, Tony Blair, who was mocked in the British media as George Bush’s “lapdog,” but charted a new course in Britain’s quest to win the hearts and minds of its burgeoning young Muslims.

Short of uprooting terrorism forcefully, the war of words is the most important battle against radicals, who prey on the unsuspecting Muslim youth and recruit them, using humiliation as a demagogue. The terrorists’ main arsenal is their propaganda machine. It’s only fitting to counter with a much-stronger but deft approach.

The term “Muslim terrorists” fits the terrorists’ humiliation appeal in that youngsters are told that “infidels are insulting the tenets of your faith.”

Britain’s news Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, told the Daily Express that “terrorists are criminals, whose victims come from all walks of life, communities and religions. Terrorists attack the values shared by all law-abiding citizens. As a Government, as communities, as individuals, we need to ensure that the message of the terrorists is rejected.”

That rejection begins with winning the hearts of the very youth who feel disenfranchised by their own society. By assigning terrorists the adjective “Muslim,” the society gave terrorists the ammunition to hone their evil message.

Separating the two mutually exclusive words of “Muslim” and “terrorist” helps many Muslims to unequivocally reject the latter word while embracing the former. And that’s where the lines of the battle against terrorists will be drawn.

As soon as Brown announced this strategic move, more Muslim organizations, who long felt reluctant to jump on the “war on terror” wagon, have deviated from their positions and urged their members to join the law enforcement to isolate “criminal” terrorists.

In addition to being a sound public policy, Brown’s move is in sync with the British people’s overwhelming disdain for the Bush administration’s approach to the so-called “war on terror.” Smith, who called the new move an attempt to take “a conciliatory tone,” told the Daily Express that the “war on terror” reflects the Bush-Blair era – from which Brown’s government is doing all it can to divorce itself.

Here in the U.S., former Sen. John Edwards is so far the only presidential candidate who has shown the courage to rebut the Bush administration by deeming the “war on terror” nothing more than a ” Bush’s bumper sticker.”

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a Republican presidential hopeful, pressed Democrats to use the term “Islamic terrorism” or else…be seen as soft on what appears to define his bid for president: the “war on terror.”

At the YearlyKos convention in Chicago two weeks ago, Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama, the other “top-tier” Democratic candidates, shied away from Edwards’ characterization of the “war on terror.”

I don’t recall what Obama said on that particular point; Clinton talked about the issue but offered no new ideas. She didn’t disagree with Edwards entirely, but she didn’t agree with Bush and Cheney either.

Go figure.