Is the problem Islam or Islamism?  Muslims or Islamists?

These and related questions regularly foster debate (see the exchange between Robert Spencer and Andrew McCarthy for a recent example). The greatest obstacle on the road to consensus is what such words imply; namely, that Islamism and Islamists are "bad," and Islam and Muslims are good (or simply neutral).

Some observations in this regard:

Islamism is a distinct phenomenon and, to an extent, different from historic Islam.  The staunch literalness of today's Islamists is so artificial and anachronistic that, if only in this way, it contradicts the practices of medieval Muslims, which often came natural and better fit their historical context.

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