This stemmed from George W. Bush’s use of the terms “Islamic fascists” and “Islamofascism” that threw the left and CAIR into a tizzy.
Defining the Threat We Face — Congressman Paul Ryan (October 7, 2006)
A debate has been raging about what to call our enemy – the terrorists and radical Muslim leaders who have committed themselves to bringing death and destruction to America, Israel, and allied democracies. President Bush has used the term “Islamic fascists” to describe the threat we face, while Senator Feingold argues that phrase is offensive and misleading. While I respect Russ and consider him a friend, I strongly disagree with his premise.
Words matter, especially when defining the multifaceted enemy that extends beyond national boundaries and operates as a network of jihadists waging war on the West. If we can’t even define what we are fighting against, how are we ever going to win? For this reason, we must strive to use the most accurate term – not necessarily the most politically correct one.
“Islamic fascism” expresses the essence of the violent, extremist, religion-driven movement that confronts us. Both words apply, but they must be used together in order to convey the proper meaning and make the crucial distinction between peaceful Muslims and the murderous extremists of al Qaeda, Hezbollah, and similar groups that distort Islam and seek to dominate or destroy those who disagree with them.
Although the term “fascist” has often been misused, carelessly or consciously, the traditional understanding of fascism as exemplified by Mussolini’s Italy, Nazi Germany, and Franco’s Spain is a governing philosophy that is totalitarian, imperialistic, and militaristic. Fascism rejects the governing system and modern society, is hierarchical, and pursues the subordination of the individual. It’s also fueled by racism, anti-Semitism, and resentment kindled by defeats or perceived loss of power.
Stephen Morris, a fellow at JohnsHopkinsUniversity’s Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, has written that fascism “refers to a revolutionary political mass movement or regime that aims to achieve national greatness by radically transforming political and social life with totalitarian rule and by a policy of imperial expansion. Fascist ideology is reactionary in that it aspires to re-create a mythical past.”