22 September 2006

"Islamo-Fascists": How to (Try to) Do Things With Words

In 1946, Orwell wrote: "The word Fascism has now no meaning except insofar as it signifies 'something not desirable'." Unsurprisingly, BushCo have picked up on and sought to exploit this meaninglessness by adopting the label "Islamo-fascism." On the true idiocy and actual purpose of using this phrase I recommend two columns by Katha Pollitt in recent issues of The Nation [1] [2]. Pollitt is a wonderfully smart, very funny, politically astute writer; her column is, by itself, worth the price of my subscription to The Nation. As she writes in the first of her columns on the matter:

"'Islamo-fascism' looks like an analytic term, but really it's an emotional one, intended to get us to think less and fear more. It presents the bewildering politics of the Muslim world as a simple matter of Us versus Them, with war the only answer, as with Hitler. If you doubt that every other British Muslim under 30 is ready to blow himself up for Allah, or that shredding the Constitution is the way to protect ourselves from suicide bombers, if you think Hamas might be less popular if Palestinians were less miserable, you get cast as Neville Chamberlin, while Bush plays FDR. 'Islamo-fascism' rescues the neo-cons from the harsh verdict on the invasion of Iraq ... by reframing that ongoing debacle as a minor chapter in a much larger story of evil madmen who want to fly the green flag of Islam over the capitals of the West."

Just so. I posted a while back on the irony of BushCo accusing their critics of "appeasement" and will not reiterate the point here. Instead I will plug Pollitt's most recent book of essays:

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