Monday, November 09, 2009


Tunku Varadarajan of Forbes has just unleashed an extremely potent toxin on the atmosphere in this country, coining a repulsive phrase that's going to go viral very quickly:

'Going Muslim'

"Going postal" is a piquant American phrase that describes the phenomenon of violent rage in which a worker--archetypically a postal worker--"snaps" and guns down his colleagues.

As the enormity of the actions of Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan sinks in, we must ask whether we are confronting a new phenomenon of violent rage, one we might dub--disconcertingly--"Going Muslim." This phrase would describe the turn of events where a seemingly integrated Muslim-American--a friendly donut vendor in New York, say, or an officer in the U.S. Army at Fort Hood--discards his apparent integration into American society and elects to vindicate his religion in an act of messianic violence against his fellow Americans. This would appear to be what happened in the case of Maj. Hasan.

The difference between "going postal," in the conventional sense, and "going Muslim," in the sense that I suggest, is that there would not necessarily be a psychological "snapping" point in the case of the imminently violent Muslim; instead, there could be a calculated discarding of camouflage--the camouflage of integration--in an act of revelatory catharsis....

Some words and phrases have real power. Joe the Plumber's use of the word "socialist" has really hurt Barack Obama and the Democrats. "Going Muslim" is just, well, a staggeringly vile group slander that's going to have similar power (I don't know of any lefty who's ever called an abortion-clinic bombing "Going Christian," or an opponent of Israeli policy toward the Palestinians who's called any of the country's tactics "Going Jewish." If those sound awfuly harsh, well, that's how "Going Muslim" sounds, too.)

This phrase has already been welcomed with delight at Instapundit and RedState. The article is Robert Stacy McCain's top headline right now. This phrase will cross over to talk radio and possibly Fox soon. It's entering the language. (It's certainly a lot more potent than the old favorite on the right, "sudden jihad syndrome.") Ready for non-Muslim shooters to be described as "going Muslim"? That ought to make this a nicer country, right?

Varadarajan is a fellow at Stanford's right-wing Hoover Institution. He's a business professor at NYU and a former Wall Street Journal editor and editorialist (where, to his credit, he accurately described Oriana Fallaci's late-life pronouncements about Muslims excessive). He doesn't quite seem like the kind of guy to coin a phrase so toxic Ann Coulter would kill for it. But he has, and he's done more harm to our civic discourse than he can imagine.

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