For as long as I have been active in the conservative movement—and probably, since the publication of the novel 1984 in the year 1948—our friends on the Left have frequently accused conservatives of overusing the term, “Orwellian.” Perhaps it actually has become de rigueur: I myself have certainly invoked it plenty, over the years, in combatting what I view as heavy-handed Leftist governmental overreach.
But one thing that Orwell himself conscientiously focused on—and which is thus “Orwellian” under even any narrow definition of the term—is the ability of the government to perniciously control thought via the mechanism of language manipulation. In 1984, of course, this government-imposed language was called, “Newspeak.” Thoughts contrary to the governing party’s linguistic construct were punished as thoughtcrimes. Here was Orwell himself, in describing the purpose of “Newspeak”:
The purpose of Newspeak was not only to provide a medium of expression for the world-view and mental habits proper to the devotees of [governing totalitarian political ideology] IngSoc, but to make all other modes of thought impossible. It was intended that when Newspeak had been adopted once and for all and Oldspeak forgotten, a heretical thought—that is, a thought diverging from the principles of IngSoc—should be literally unthinkable, at least so far as thought is dependent on words. Its vocabulary was so constructed as to give exact and often very subtle expression to every meaning that a Party member could properly wish to express, while excluding all other meaning and also the possibility of arriving at them by indirect methods. This was done partly by the invention of new words, but chiefly by eliminating undesirable words and stripping such words as remained of unorthodox meanings, and so far as possible of all secondary meaning whatever.
We see this all the time on the modern Left. A belief in the traditional, conjugal view of the marital institution—oftentimes grounded in the biblically derived moral framework of religious Jews and Christians—is now, in a post-Obergefell world, oftentimes denigrated as “homophobic.” (The Left seems fundamentally incapable of understanding that these faiths’ similar “love the sinner, but hate the sin” mindsets are so wildly different than the sharia law-inspired intensive anti-homosexual animus that permeates so much of the Muslim world.) Those troglodytes who still cling to their outdated Victorian cultural norms and believe chromosomal structure should properly dictate where one urinates are derided as “transphobic.” And, most notably in the aftermath of jihadi terrorist attacks against Americans, the unicorn of “Islamophobia”—whose frequent invocation, far from protecting a minority religious group that sees hate crime violence committed against it at a rate approximately one-fourth of that committed against Jews, now threatens both our livelihood and our constitutional rights—is trotted out by those on the Left to purposefully obfuscate the true nature of the West’s preeminent twenty-first century geopolitical enemy.
On Sunday night, I lamented this lattermost, particularly dangerous Leftist obfuscation:
The inability of those—almost exclusively on the Left—to identify and condemn the distinctly Islamic roots of radical Islamic terrorism is worse than an intellectual disservice. It is worse than a disingenuous distortion. It is an obstinate refusal to earnestly seek to extirpate the idiosyncratic progenitor of the consistently worst form of humanitarian travesties in the twenty-first century. The innocent civilians shot down in an Orlando nightclub early this morning by a psychopathic madman screaming ‘Allahu Akbar’ are only the latest victims, but they will not be the last.
Words matter. Not that President Obama shows any interest in taking seriously the fight against Islamic State in Mosul or Raqqa, but in the hypothetical world where we had a Commander-in-Chief actually dedicated to destroying our genocidal enemy in a similar manner to which we fought the Fascists and Communists of yesteryear, it is impossible to fight a war against and extirpate the ideological heart and soul of an enemy you conscientiously refuse to properly identify.
This is not that complicated. In a world in which our terror threats are not major World Trade Center- or USS Cole-style al-Qaeda operations, but are instead sundry “lone wolf” attacks inspired by Islamic State’s online propaganda, it is important that we are perfectly clear that it is a retrograde Salafist/Wahhabi fundamentalist caliphate-reimplementing version of Islamic supremacist sharia law that is the ideological and military enemy. Only with a clear mission statement can we properly synchronize military, intelligence, and law enforcement efforts.
Now, it appears that Obama’s personal discomfort in describing the enemy as “jihadism” or “radical Islamism” has begun to seep deeper and deeper into the Administration’s inner tentacles. This morning, the Washington Free Beacon reported on how the Department of Homeland Security has issued a new report that “urges rejecting use of Islamic terms such as ‘jihad’ and ‘sharia’ in programs aimed at countering terrorist radicalization among American youth”:
Under the section on terminology, the report calls for rejecting use of an ‘us versus them’ mentality by shunning Islamic language in ‘Countering Violent Extremism’ programs, or CVE, the Obama administration’s euphemism that seeks to avoid references to Islam.
Under a section on recommended actions on terminology, the report says DHS should ‘reject religiously-charged terminology and problematic positioning by using plain meaning American English.’
Government agencies should employ ‘American English instead of religious, legal and cultural terms like “jihad,” “sharia,” “taker” or “umma,”‘ states the June 2016 report by the Council’s countering violent extremism subcommittee.
The problem, of course, is that “violent extremism” means literally nothing, and deliberately equates Islamist-inspired jihad with more truly disparate, mental health-based acts of non-jihadi violence.
Yes, it is important that we address our nation’s mental health detection problem in order to better prevent the psychopathic Adam Lanzas and James Holmeses of the world from having easy access to weapons. But in a nation where we have a Lockean-based social contract where the Second Amendment unambiguously was enshrined to prophylactically preclude the threat of a tyrannical government coup, in a nation where we have more firearms than people, and in a nation in which an Australia-style national gun buyback program is simply not going to happen, there is frankly only so much we can do on that front. Instead, we would be far better suited to focus our resources on the disproportionate root cause of the most consistently brutal violence that the West has seen—from Orlando to Tel Aviv to Brussels to San Bernardino to Paris to Garland to Boston to Chattanooga to Fort Hood to Jerusalem to New York City to Washington, D.C.—over the past 30-plus years. And that form of violence, whether Barack Obama wants to admit it or not, is what occurs when a radicalized Islamist draws propagandized inspiration from a retrograde jihadist outfit and shouts “Allahu Akbar” before trying to mow down a lot of innocent civilians.
That is just a fact. And it is a stubborn fact that the Left has to deal with, whether it wants to or not.
With regard to the new DHS report, congressional Republicans would be well-served to use their oversight power to call a hearing on such linguistic evasiveness and intellectual deceit. Such a hearing would bring to light the Obama Administration’s deliberate chicanery and misleading of the American people as to the nature of the threat we all face.
So please, stop lecturing us on the purported dangers of “Islamophobia,” and please stop attempting to control our language and our thoughts like the totalitarians in 1984. The radical Islamic jihad exists, and it has Western infidels as its existential enemy. Let’s get serious about it.