And thus deny themselves use of the one conceptual tool that would help them understand the motives and goals of those who are trying to destroy them. “Whitehall draws up new rules on language of terror: Phrasebook designed to avoid blaming Muslims for extremism,” by Alan Travis for The Guardian (thanks to Davida):
A new counter-terrorism phrasebook has been drawn up within Whitehall to advise civil servants on how to talk to Muslim communities about the nature of the terror threat without implying they are specifically to blame.
Reflecting the government’s decision to abandon the “aggressive rhetoric” of the so-called war on terror, the guide tells civil servants not to use terms such as Islamist extremism or jihadi-fundamentalist but instead to refer to violent extremism and criminal murderers or thugs to avoid any implication that there is an explicit link between Islam and terrorism.
It warns those engaged in counter-terrorist work that talk of a struggle for values or a battle of ideas is often heard as a “confrontation/clash between civilisations/cultures”. Instead it suggests that talking about the idea of shared values works much more effectively.
The guide, which has been passed to the Guardian, is produced by a Home Office research, information and communications unit which was set up last summer to counter al-Qaida propaganda and win hearts and minds.
It shows that the government is adopting a new sophistication in its approach to counter-terrorism, based on the realisation that it must “avoid implying that specific communities are to blame” if it is to enable communities to challenge the ideas of violent extremists robustly. The new lexicon of terror surfaced briefly last month when the home secretary, Jacqui Smith, made a speech on counter-terrorism declaring violent extremism to be “anti-Islamic”.
But the internal Home Office guide shows just how far a new official language, to use when talking about terrorism, is being developed. “This is not intended as a definitive list of what not to say but rather to highlight terms which risk being misunderstood and therefore prevent the effective reception of the message,” says the Home Office paper. “This is not about political correctness, but effectiveness – evidence shows that people stop listening if they think you are attacking them.”
While the leaked Whitehall papers show a new sophistication in the government’s approach to talking about terrorism they reveal that their profiling of those most likely to prove vulnerable to violent extremism remains very vague….