Tag Archive: Muslim

Terrorist terminology: what to call our enemies

Syrian refugee family arriving in Greece -- not our enemy

Syrian refugee family arriving in Greece — not our enemy

In the wake of the recent Paris attacks, the long-running debate about what to call our terrorist enemies has been renewed. This language battle also has strong political overtones.

Those on the right seem to have no problem using broad terms, which can discredit the entire religion of Islam. Their current preferred terminology is “radical Islam.” For example, Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio says “we are at war with radical Islam.” Likewise, fellow candidate Lindsey Graham says that “the whole world is a battlefield and radical Islam is everywhere.” Graham even said, after last January’s Charlie Hebdo attack in France, that “we’re in a religious war.”

Republicans’ low profiling

Rally for Travon Martin at Univ. of Minnesota

Rally for Travon Martin at Univ. of Minnesota

On a recent ski trip, we noticed two types of profiling: First, the lift operators at the bottom of the mountain scanned the lift tickets of some skiers and snowboarders, but not others, to make sure they had purchased a ticket that day. It seemed like only younger and less affluent-looking snowboarders were being checked, while older, prosperous-looking skiers were not. That night, at a nice restaurant in town, the host told some younger, scruffier looking snowboard types that it would be an hour and a half wait for a table, and then told an older, affluent looking couple that they could get a table in just ten minutes.

Messaging Maxim #1: Go On Offense

“Ability to defeat the enemy means taking the offensive. Standing on the defensive indicates insufficient strength.” —Sun Tzu, “The Art of War”

As we indicated in “A Messaging Manifesto For Democrats”, during the run-up to the 2010 Congressional elections, while Republicans went on offense with charges against the “Ground Zero Mosque” and that “Obama is a Muslim,” “the Democrats weakly offered up rational rebuttals, and then wondered why most Americans weren’t swayed.”  Republicans know that, to win political battles, you must go on offense to frame the political debate in your terms, using language favorable to you.

A Messaging Manifesto For Democrats

The summer of 2010 was the second summer in a row in which Democrats lost control of the political message, and the news cycle. Given the 2010 election results, how did that work for you?

What’s the Problem?

In the summer of 2009, Republicans and their Tea Party surrogates took over Congressional town hall meetings, repeating false phrases such as “government-run health care.” Democrats dawdled for weeks, and when they finally responded, all they could muster was “no it isn’t.” Guess who won that battle? The “health care reform” law passed by the Democrats who control Congress and the presidency was severely watered down.