Memo to Rudy Giuliani
By Ahmed Soliman
The Republican candidates for their party’s presidential nomination gathered for a debate this past week in Florida, and it’s left people asking each other a lot of questions (such as who was the most conservative, who won the debate and who was the one who will get the biggest bump in the polls). But after watching the debate, I think the most important thing to do right now is answer a question posed by Rudy Giuliani during the debate – why the democrats don’t use the term “Islamic Terrorist” as he does.
The answer, Mr. Giuliani, is not that they are worried about offending the very same people we are fighting as you so ignorantly hypothesized. While you, Mr. Giuliani, are correct in saying that the American people are able to differentiate between those who misrepresent the religion and the vast majority of good people who are following the proper form of the noble religion of Islam, the Democrats further understand that rhetoric and language make a big deal of difference in the way our message is being perceived by the Muslim people living across the sea.
After the unprecedented support and compassion the people of the Middle East were feeling for the United States during the 9/11 attack, President Bush has managed to squander all of that with his rhetoric regarding the war on terror as a crusade, and terms like “Islamic Fascism.” Bush’s unprovoked invasion of Iraq furthered the image that America is out hunting for Muslims. The world needs some healing right now with the Muslim and Arab world, because we must win over their hearts and minds if we are going to truly secure the United States. But that will never happen so long as the Muslim world is hearing you, Mr. Giuliani, put the words “Islamic” and “terrorist” in the same sentence.
There is nothing “Islamic” about terrorism. Using such a term is just as silly as using the term “Christian burglar” when debating the issue of crime, or “Christian Terrorist” when referring to Timothy McVeigh, the uni-bomber, or those who have blown up abortion clinics right here in the United States. While it’s true that those examples differ in the sense that a burglar does not associate his actions with the Christian faith, it’s also true that the Islamic label some terrorists use is an intentionally false one, engineered to win support among the people with a popular – albeit fraudulent – use of a brand name.
It is precisely because some terrorists are fraudulently labeling their violence with the name “Islam” that you must refrain from adopting their pseudo label with terms like “Islamic Terrorist.” To do so is to fall into the trap of the terrorists whose method of operation has nothing to do with Islam, and yet are successful in getting you to adopt and spread their marketing scheme.
The proper use of language is very important in the delicate strategic art of diplomacy, and if you do not understand that, Mr. Giuliani, then you have no right to believe that you are the most qualified candidate to lead our country during this pivotal point in time on the world stage. And more importantly, we have little reason to vote for you.
(Ahmed Soliman is a broadcast journalist and the author of “Born in the USA: Reflections of an Arab & Muslim-American Journalist.” Copyright Arab Writers Group, http://www.ArabWritersGroup.com ).