ISLAMO-_____ [Kathryn Jean Lopez]

I am reminded that in February Jim Woolsey told a Senate committee that Islamo-fascist is too understated. He prefers Islamo-Nazi. So if CAIR is so unhappy with Bush and Santorum's terms, maybe they should go ahead and be clearer...

Well, that makes sense. After all, insisting that the enemy be named "Islamofascism" implies that National Review takes a consistent anti-fascist line whereas, in reality, the magazine is rather fond (Franco "is not an oppressive dictator.... only as oppressive as is necessary to maintain total power" -- hilarious) of Spanofascism.

To get semi-serious here, as outlined in the Islamo-blank schema, the main idea here seems to be that we need a proper noun to describe our foes. The noun ought to be pejorative, and it ought to include "Islam" or some equivalent. There's not really any precedent for this sort of thing. We called the Nazis "Nazis" because that was the name of the Nazi Party. We didn't feel the need to call them "Germano-Nazis" to remind ourselves that they were German. What we certainly didn't do was take a term that already had bad connotations -- "Bolsheviks," say -- and then call the Nazis "Germano-Bolsheviks" in order to make clear that we were talking about Germans rather than Russians. That would be nonsense. Al-Qaeda's doctrine and methods have almost nothing in common with those of the National Socialist German Workers Party. Calling its followers "Islamo-Nazis" clarifies absolutely nothing. It's a tool of pure intellectual laziness:

In the weeks and months after September 11, the nation was afraid. And confused. We faced a new enemy, an apparently brutal and skillful one, that we little understood. A grateful nation's eyes turned to Christopher Hitchens, whose neologism "Islamofascism" established a key precedent for the age: in this new era one would not be expected to know what one was talking about in order to have strongly held opinions as to what needed to be done.

And, yes, quoting oneself is pretty bad form, too.

--Matthew Yglesias

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