War on terror = War on Islam?
The hugely infamous Salman Rushdie has this interview with Reason magazine in which he states that he is mad at President Bush for calling the War on Terror that name, instead of it's more honest name, The War on Wahhabist Islam. Moneyshot: Reason: What they mean is that it is not about Islam properly understood. That it is about certain extreme followers of Islam who might not be interpreting the religion correctly. Rushdie: Yes, but Wahhabi Islam is becoming very powerful these days. To say that it is not about Islam is to not take the world as it really is. Reason: They are trying to make sure that Islam does not become synonymous with terrorism in the public mind. Rushdie: Of course, there is nothing intrinsic linking any religion with any act of violence. The crusades don’t prove that Christianity was violent. The Inquisition doesn’t prove that Christianity tortures people. But that Christianity did torture people. This Islam did carry out this attack. I think there is a desire, for virtuous reasons, to make this disassociation. You can respect those reasons, but there is a problem of truth. It reminds me a little bit of what Western socialists used to say during the worst excesses of the Soviet Union. They would say that that’s not really socialism. There is a real socialism that is about liberty, social justice, and so on, but that tyrannical regime over there which was actually existing socialism is not really Marxism. The problem was that that’s what there was. When that fell, in a way that whole intellectual construct of socialism fell with it. It became very difficult to ignore all these people coming out of the Soviet Union who detested the term socialism, because to them it meant tyranny. I think there is beginning to be that kind of disconnect in the discourse about Islam. There is an actually existing Islam which is not at all likeable. Ideologically, I think he is right. Unfortunately, for marketing purposes, I think naming it "the War on Wahabbi Islam" would have some serious conseqeuences. People over here, despite their apparent religiousness, don't really know much about Islam. That's why the Wahabbists are gaining power: they give out this image and play this role of the knoweldgeable true believers. You tell the egyptian average Mo that the US is waging war against Wahabbi Islam, and he would take it as a war on Islam. He doesn't know much about the Wahhabi part nor is he probably willing to listen. It would just confirm every goddamn conspriacy theory he told himself over the years to be true. So I am guessing Bush & Co. did a good job at naming it such a neutral name like "The War on Terror". No one is for Terror, so it's all good. But a "War on Wahabbist Islam" is bound to make any ally of the US in arab/muslim countries wince in serious discomfort, if not flat out reject helping the US fearing the reaction of the muslim populace that is very unlikely to be open-minded and understanding about this. So, sorry Rushdie, but the "War on Terror" is the correct term to use as far as i am concerned, no matter how dishonest it may be.