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What’s In A Name?: “Radical Islam”

There has been so much controversy surrounding the creating of a term to describe what The United States is fighting in its battles with ISIS.


ISIS stands for the the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham. The Islamic State is represented by a group of jihadist extremists who believe that their divine mandate is to war against the non-Muslim countries of the world. I am definitely over simplifying the description but you get the gist. The point is that this is a select group of Muslims who believe that violence against non-Muslims, even to the point of suicide, has been ordered by their god.

After ISIS began violently conquering parts of Iraq in 2014, America has been exchanging blows with the country. The understanding of exactly who and what ISIS is and what it is they want has grown over time. One thing that is certain is that ISIS means to spread terror across the globe under the veil of religion. Previously ISIS had sent a global message to their supporters to travel to the state and take up arms with them. Then in September 2014 that message changed and ISIS began calling on its supporters to commit acts of terror in the non-Muslim countries where they live, one of them being The United States. That brings us to the many random acts of terror that have occurred in the name of ISIS.

Radical Islam

This term has been around since The U.S. first engaged ISIS; however, many politicians refused to use the term. It wasn’t until late last year – when politicians began posturing themselves for presidential nominations – that the term resurfaced and picked up momentum as Republicans began to use President Obama’s refusal to use the word as shot against his efficiency as a leader.

We are at war with radical Islam – saying we weren’t at war with Nazis, because we were afraid to offend some Germans who may have been members of the Nazi Party but weren’t violent themselves.

Senator Marco Rubio of Florida

You cannot fight and win a war on radical Islamic terrorism if you’re unwilling to utter the words ‘radical Islamic terrorism.’

Senator Ted Cruz of Texas

And most recently Donald Trump has been slinging the term around left and righ32477t. Not only has he criticized President Obama for not using the term and attributing it to the President’s ignorance about ISIS or some sinister alliance with Muslims, he even challenged Hillary Clinton to use the word. Hillary instead chose to use the term “Radical Islamism.”

Radical Islamism

The term “Islamism” was developed in the circle of politically correctness in order to distinguish the religion of Islam from the extremist who terrorize in the name of Islam. Islamism essentially means to use a form or interpretation of Islamic principles in order to justify certain actions, in this case terrorism. Jihad is an Islamic concept that means “holy war” and represents struggling and striving even to the means of violence. However, the connotation that most Americans recognize is that of terror. For Americans, Islamism represents this kind of violent take on Islamic principles. So when Clinton uses this term is is her way of defining the violent terrorist perspective that these individuals take in the name of Islam. As opposed to “Radical Islam,” which suggests that there is some place in Islam where such actions are appropriate (which is not true).

The President’s Stance

The Point

In today’s political climate words are astronomically important because it shapes the conversation and adds dimensions and connotations to the conversation. When words/terms are chosen haphazardly it changes the entire dynamic of the conversation and in turn manipulates the way that the mainstream public understands and interprets the information that they hear. President Obama and Hillary Clinton’s reluctance to use coin-phrases and popular terms arbitrarily is an attempt to not over-simpify the definition and generalize the discussion of the matter at hand. Donald Trump would like to use his use of the word to demonstrate some sort of brave and courageous confrontation of the “enemy” but it only amounts to a sensationalized manipulation of the public’s view of the situation. America is not at war with Islam and it is not at war with “radical Islamism.” America is at war with terrorism and the anti-American philosophies that have been driving the terrorism of ISIS; not Muslims and the religion of Islam. What we call it is less important than knowing the difference because how can one expect to defeat an enemy when they cannot truly distinguish who the enemy is.

I’m not sayin; I’m just sayin,

An Angry Black Man

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