What’s wrong with calling the newest terrorist scourge ‘the Islamic State’? Beyond handing the group an easy propaganda victory by conferring upon it attributes it lacks and doesn’t deserve, it contributes to the destruction of language and discourse by assigning false names and descriptions to all kinds of things, concepts and people. Columnist Jose Vitor Malheiros of Portugal’s Publico describes the damage to society misnomers like ‘Islamic State cause,’ and highlights how widespread the problem is, from Wall Street to Brussels and Washington.[icopyright one button toolbar]
For Publico , Jose Vitor Malheiros begins by recalling Interpol Secretary General Ronald Noble’s plea for people to stop referring to the terrorists as IS or ‘the Islamic State’ and instead use CW for ‘Cowardly Murderers’:
Interpol Secretary General Ronald Noble, an American, suggested a few days ago that “the international community and law enforcement” stop using the term “Islamic State” to refer to the Islamist terrorist organization that controls much of Iraq and Syria – which the groups chose for itself. Instead, he proposed using the acronym CM for “Cowardly Murderers,” a name that, according to Noble, should henceforth be used to refer to a group that has come to epitomize murderous cruelty by filming the beheadings of hostages (not only Western) and disseminating them over the Internet.
Noble’s proposal is not a mere gesture, but is intended to combat one of the most effective propaganda weapons these terrorists have: their name.
In fact, by using the term “Islamic State” and previously, “the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria” – which media adopted quickly, the organization gains relevance and dignity in the public eye that no one recognizes (that of a state). Moreover, it acquires immediate identification with a religion (Islam) which is intended to reinforce its legitimacy before Muslims. On the other hand, it spreads among non-Muslims the idea of an identifying link between terrorism and Islam, thereby generating reactions of religious hatred which is the fuel on which these terrorists feed.
Noble’s name change may not be well-received, but it is clear that media use of the name chosen by the group itself represents a justification and amounts to objective collaboration in an act of propaganda every time the term is repeated on television. “I ask the global community,” said Noble, “why should we allow a bloodthirsty group of terrorists to name themselves after a religion as a pretext to justify their heinous crime that no religion would justify?”
The question is: if the Mafia adopts the name “Sicilian Cultural Association” and Goldman Sachs re-baptizes itself as “The Congregation of Barefoot Carmelites of Wall Street,” should the media begin to use such designations? Or should it consider that the message conveyed by the designation is at odds with (how should we say it? …) the truth of the matter? Or should these updated designations represent de-facto new identities and new objectives for these organizations?
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