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Can’t Say Terrorism, Can’t Say War on Terror, Islamist Now a No-No

First they came for terrorism, then it was the war on terror, and now it is Islamism.

The AP Stylebook definition for Islamist was changed due to Muslim pressure

The AP Stylebook definition for Islamist was changed due to Muslim pressure

It seems to have started during the spring of 2009, when Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano first appeared in her new role at a congressional hearing.

Some close listeners of her testimony realized that while Napolitano was head of the U.S. government’s cabinet-level department created specifically in response to the terrorist attacks against this country on September 11, 2001, the word “terrorism” never crossed her lips.

The English online version of the German newspaper Der Spiegel interviewed Napolitano shortly after her maiden congressional speech, and asked her about that glaring inconsistency.

Napolitano explained that by substituting the phrase “man-made disaster” for “terrorism,” the Obama administration was demonstrating “that we want to move away from the politics of fear.”

In the four years since the word “terrorism” was dropped from the play list, several other terms or words have been placed on the “no speak list.”

For example, during the George W. Bush administration the U.S. was fighting something called “the war on terror.”  But “terror” and “war” are both such negative terms that the Obama administration gave it the heave-ho,  replacing it with “overseas contingency operations.”

This week a new change in parlance was introduced.  Although the U.S. government is not responsible for this change, it will have at least as enormous an impact on how we speak as if it were ordered from the White House, probably even greater.

The Associated Press Stylebook is an extensive compilation of standardized terminology, abbreviations, capitalizations and other information journalists use to convey information.  It is the most widely-used resource for journalists, and therefore the way in which it chooses to define words or concepts has an enormous ripple effect on the public’s understanding of many subtle and not so subtle issues.  The Stylebook also plays a major role in determining when, whether and how new words or concepts enter the general lexicon.

For example, in the 2010 edition of the AP Stylebook, a new section was added on social media, for the first time addressing how “Twitter” and “Facebook” can be used by journalists and therefore how it will be introduced to consumers of news.  That new section also was responsible for officially transforming the word website from a two-word phrase to one word.

From a report in Politico on Friday, April 6, we learned there’s more change afoot.  While there has already been some discussion of the change in reference to “illegal aliens” to “undocumented workers,” another change has thus far received less attention.  This changed has been traced directly to campaigning by the Council on American-Islamic Relations against the use of a term it described as pejorative.

In a January CAIR press release, the organization which describes itself as a Muslim civil rights group, but which government officials have described as a front-group for Hamas, was unhappy with the way the AP Stylebook defined “Islamist.”

The AP added the term “Islamist” to its Stylebook in 2012.  The term was defined:

Islamist—Supporter of government in accord with the laws of Islam. Those who view the Quran as a political model encompass a wide range of Muslims, from mainstream politicians to militants known as jihadi.

CAIR found that definition objectionable, and urged the AP to drop the term from its Stylebook.

The AP went even further.

Although “Islamist” is still a defined term in the AP Stylebook, reporters are now admonished not to use it to mean something objectionable.  The entry for “Islamist” now reads, with emphasis added by Politico:

An advocate or supporter of a political movement that favors reordering government and society in accordance with laws prescribed by Islam. Do not use as a synonym for Islamic fighters, militants, extremists or radicals, who may or may not be Islamists. Where possible, be specific and use the name of militant affiliations: al-Qaida-linked, Hezbollah, Taliban, etc. Those who view the Quran as a political model encompass a wide range of Muslims, from mainstream politicians to militants known as jihadi.

CAIR issued a press release Friday, April 5, welcoming the change by AP, and calling the Stylebook revision a “step in the right direction.”

About the Author: Lori Lowenthal Marcus is the US correspondent for The Jewish Press. She is a recovered lawyer who previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools.


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11 Responses to “Can’t Say Terrorism, Can’t Say War on Terror, Islamist Now a No-No”

  1. Tim Kochan says:

    Most Americans don't have a clue about the stealth jihad that is being waged on our home front. These terrorist are infiltrating every level of our society. Their goal is total domination of Islam. They are in an our education system, the media, and every level of our government. Lying is a weapon that they use to achieve their goals. The book, 'They Must Be Stopped' is a must read!

  2. Arie's Pragmatic Politics says:

    AP under orders from obama to censor words and terms like "terrorist," "war on terror," "terrorism," "jihad," and of course the latest "illegal immigrant."

    obama has the biography of goebbles heavily marked up as he takes notes and issues orders based on his ideal "journalist".

  3. Lucia Alof says:

    In some states where the repub have changed the districts, it is almost to have a demo house in those states, the votes were cast towards demo, but the redistricting changed the votes to 2 to 1 favor of the repubs.

  4. Lucia Alof says:

    In some states where the repub have changed the districts, it is almost to have a demo house in those states, the votes were cast towards demo, but the redistricting changed the votes to 2 to 1 favor of the repubs.

  5. Arie's Pragmatic Politics says:

    Lucia Alof Of course your rambling has something to do with the topic of propaganda and fascism promoted by AP?

    How much kool aid did they force down your throat? WOW. As Archie Bunker would say….dingbat

  6. Yehuda Cohen says:

    Lucia, from the Lansdale School of Cosmotology, should know two things. You misspelled the name of your School. It’s called the Lansdale School of Cosmetology. Next, the human skin is not water proof but rather very permeable. If you could cover your skin with enough food, you would not have to eat. Cosmetics on the skin is next to poison and the same goes for soaps loaded with perfumes, skin softeners, colors and other chemicals. The skin can hold up to four pounds of cosmetics and after years of loading it with poisons, it sages, wrinkles and gets diseased. This is not to mention what these poisons do to the brain and other parts of the body. If/when you are able to detoxify yourself, you might find that your comments are in the wrong internet site.

  7. This is the same person that declared returning veterans to be as much as a threat as the terrorists attacking the US!

  8. Julane Jazzique says:

    And the PC feelings based, no logic , no common sense, mind dumbing media, government sell outs, continue to tell lies. Illegal is illegal period.

  9. Gil Gilman says:

    The entire world is being brainwashed…yes..perfectly usable words are being washed out of every day communication, human speech patterns, and then brains that have no active retention of words which lie on the floor of their mental lumber room, buried under an enormous pile of newspeak. I promise to make up for that lack by using those words at every opportunity., and encouraging others to do so as well.

  10. shouldn't we call this terminology "Newspeak"?

  11. Terrorism seems to give some validity to an act that can only be called MURDER.

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