While Western governments scoff at the anti-blasphemy measure that a UN General Assembly committee passed on November 24, they actually have led the way in perfecting the art of self-censorship. Bureaucrats and elected officials, in de facto sympathy with the resolution's claim that "Islam is frequently and wrongly associated with human rights violations and terrorism," twist themselves into pretzels to cleanse references to the faith from relevant discussions.
The immediate consequences of refusing to call a spade a spade are as predictable as they are maddening. Consider this lesson in the obvious, courtesy of Great Britain:
Attempts to turn young people away from Islamic extremism are being hampered by politically correct language, according to a new report.
Ministers last year directed councils to use the terms "anti-Islamic activity" and "community resilience" instead of terrorism and extremism, as part of a drive to win over the Muslim community.
But the rebranding has spread confusion and is preventing local authorities and public bodies from talking openly about the radicalization of young people.
Home Secretary Jacqui Smith was ridiculed for renaming terrorism "anti-Islamic activity." Given that citizens and councilors alike can point to legions of Muslim terrorists who have sought to justify their atrocities by appealing to Islam, it is little surprise that such policies "spread confusion." The replacement of "extremism" with "community resilience" is even more baffling.
Yet Americans should not laugh too hard at their cousins in the UK. As reported earlier this year:
Federal agencies, including the State Department, the Department of Homeland Security, and the National Counter Terrorism Center, are telling their people not to describe Islamic extremists as "jihadists" or "mujahedeen," according to documents obtained by the Associated Press. Lingo like "Islamo-fascism" is out, too.
The reason: Such words may actually boost support for radicals among Arab and Muslim audiences by giving them a veneer of religious credibility or by causing offense to moderates.
There is, however, a ray of hope. A U.S. military "red team" recently called for the rejection of these policies, arguing that "while there is concern that we not label all Muslims as Islamist terrorists, it is proper to address certain aspects of violence as uniquely Islamic."
Knowing the enemy is prerequisite to defeating him. Islamists and the UN hope to muzzle the West into ignorance; we must not compound the problem by muzzling ourselves.