Freelance writer Tammy Swofford has a thought-provoking analysis of the battles over the meaning of jihad and the freedom of speech that have been raging in the U.S. lately. Kudos to the Daily Times of Pakistan for publishing this. “COMMENT : The Lexicon wars: the meaning of jihad,” by Tammy Swofford in the Daily Times, March 15:
Everyone hates the truth. The more visible jihad of recent decades falls in the category of mass murder, chaos, and anarchy
Cast of characters:
Council on American-Islamic Relations
Pamela Geller and the American Freedom Defence Initiative
Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) 2013
Robert Spencer: Jihad Watch
If you own the language you control the dialogue. If you control the dialogue you have the ability to censor thought. If you censor thought you can infiltrate culture. Freedom of expression remains the breastplate of our American freedom. There are many who do not understand this dynamic. They speak against the very guarantee of our liberty. For me the issue is quite simple. Freedom of expression is a process and not an outcome.
There is a war going on. It is being waged within the political trenches of our nations. This is a war birthed within a digital age. Lexicon War. It is important that there be no real winner. And it is equally important that there is no real defeat. Because when it comes to freedom of expression, the process is extremely important. But the process is always open-ended and continuing. The outcome is never fully determined.
Let’s look at the latest American cast of characters. In the first Lexicon War we have CAIR v Pamela Geller. The Chicago branch of CAIR decided to run a series of advertisements as part of a bus campaign to raise the awareness of jihad as a personal and internal struggle. One ad says, “My jihad is to stay fit despite my busy schedule. What’s yours?” Not one to take it lying down, Geller mounted her own campaign in her usual trailblazing style. Her ads are all on the scale of: “Reloading, firing again, reloading, firing again, while screaming Allahu Akbar “” victim of Major Nidal Hassan, Fort Hood jihad mass murderer. That’s My Jihad, what’s yours?”
You say struggle. I say kill. You say jihad of the tongue. Mine is of the pen.
The second case involves CPAC v Robert Spencer. The Conservative Political Action Conference is one of those “˜see and be seen” events, kind of like the National Prayer Breakfast. No sane person really attends the prayer breakfast to pray. It is a time to bite the ankles of your nearest enemy and shove a thumb in the eye of the person who hates you. It provides the encapsulated moment to pander to the individual who has the influence to advance political agenda. The tables are bloated with perils of predilection.
In their infancy, these gatherings are attended by mavericks. But mavericks must be owned and cordoned. The powerful Beltway vortex acquires a new target. Within a few years, all such gatherings are reduced to attendance by career political mules. Swofford doesn’t talk to mules.
Robert Spencer? There is no middle ground on opinion about this man. He runs what is essentially a clearinghouse of information for jihad-of-the-nasty-kind. If a Muslim kills a Copt in Egypt, it will make the page. If a Muslim woman is the victim of an honour killing, it finds full bloom on his site. You get the point. Recently, his blog took the CPAC people’s choice award by an impressive voting margin. But when the topic came up regarding his right to freedom of expression at the CPAC event, the right to address his perceptions, he quickly became persona non grata. CPAC will now present his award in absentia. Ghost award.
It wasn’t just my perceptions, it was hard evidence of the ties of CPAC’s Grover Norquist and Suhail Khan to Islamic supremacists — and I hadn’t even intended to speak about that until I was told not to.
Everyone hates the truth. The more visible jihad of recent decades falls in the category of mass murder, chaos, and anarchy. Anyone remember how many times the flight recorder for United Airlines 93 picked up the phrase Allahu Akbar as Muslim men terrorised their captives? 23. One score and three. XXIII. But the Lexicon War continues to rage between those who want intellectual ownership of the word jihad. On the one side are Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, a dynamic duo who wish to remind us that jihad means killing fields. On the other side, those who wish to scrub any and all violent connotation of jihad and neutralize the word to be one with less emotional impact….