“To misname things is to add to the world’s unhappiness.” Whether or not Albert Camus really did utter these words, they are an astonishingly apt description of the situation in which the French government now finds itself. Indeed, the French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius no longer even dares pronounce the real name of things.Really? The work of fighting these people can't even get under way until all government officials are shouting MUSLIM MUSLIM MUSLIM, carefully adding in a whisper, like Le Pen, that they distinguish "Islamic fundamentalism" from "Islam," a distinction that is likely to be ignored by enraged ordinary non-Muslim citizens?
Mr. Fabius will not describe as “Islamists” the terrorists who on Wednesday, Jan. 7, walked into the offices of the newspaper Charlie Hebdo, right in the heart of Paris. Nor will he use “Islamic State” to describe the radical Sunni group that now controls territory in Syria and Iraq. No reference can be made to “Islamic fundamentalism,” for fear that Islam and Islamism might get conflated. The terms “Daesh” and “Daesh cutthroats” are to be favored instead, even though in Arabic “Daesh” means the very thing to be hidden: “Islamic State.”
Let us call things by their rightful names, since the French government seems reluctant to do so. France, land of human rights and freedoms, was attacked on its own soil by a totalitarian ideology: Islamic fundamentalism. It is only by refusing to be in denial, by looking the enemy in the eye, that one can avoid conflating issues. Muslims themselves need to hear this message. They need the distinction between Islamist terrorism and their faith to be made clearly....
Once things are called what they are, the real work begins.
In the past I've called this the "Rumplestiltskin" approach -- you can't act until you utter the magic word. But President Obama generally refrains from uttering the magic word, and he had Osama bin Laden killed. Does Le Pen not consider that part of "the real work"? Does she disapprove of the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, who was said to be a key inspiration for the Charlie Hebdo massacre, even though that killing was also set in motion by the non-"Rumplestiltskin"-uttering President Obama?
There's a case to be made that some of what Le Pen describes as "the real work" is actually counterproductive -- drone strikes that kill civilians, torture prisons, the Iraq War, surveillance exceses. But that's not what she's saying. Like so many American right-wingers, she's saying that efforts to prevent terrorist attacks can't even begin until all politicians utter the particular phrases that give right-wingers a self-righteous thrill.
This is nuts -- but it's widely believed on the right. If Le Pen ever decides to cede control of her party to someone else, she has a promising future as an American right-wing pundit.