Thursday, April 16, 2009

Calling the Kettle Black

The reason I write today is not a bash, its not a "gotcha" blog, but rather an awareness piece and a critical piece towards the language we (we: America, American's, me, you, our leaders, our government, our representatives, our perception) uses throughout the world.

You've probably heard this week, that the Department of Homeland Security has labeled "Rightwing Extremism", terrorists and has made a pretty hefty list against our own citizens. I don't necessarily argue with DHS for making said list and preparing for the worst - that is indeed the essence of their job. And after all Timothy McVeigh was a homegrown terrorist that fits their description almost exactly.

Here's the DHS statement:
"Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment," said that while there is no specific information that domestic right-wing terrorists are planning acts of violence, such acts could come from unnamed "rightwing extremists" concerned about illegal immigration, abortion, increasing federal power and restrictions on firearms -- and returning war veterans as susceptible to recruitment.

So what's my beef...?

My real issue again comes with language and consistency. Our current administration has made it public that "no longer will we use the word 'terrorist' or 'radical Islamists' to describe those that we are combating now. Instead the new term is 'enemy combatant'. With the blur in language, I personally believe that we confuse clarity and the ambiguity de-emphasizes the truth of the battle and inevitably devalues the loss and risk we incur via the sad carnage of war (or conflict, or scuffle, or broo-ha-ha - not sure if we've changed that term too...).

However, I understand the political implication of these labels. With nearly two billion people on earth practicing Islam, and when we label even the 5% of radicalized Muslims as terrorists, we're still calling out 10 million followers - essentially, the city of New York being deemed 'terrorist.' So, just so we're all clear, I understand why the administration has changed the verbiage.

My issue though, is that the administration has no issue whatsoever calling its own citizens both 'radical' and 'terrorist.' It just makes no sense to me. Again, a bit of consistency will go a long way. Call the kettle black or don't, but be consistent with it please!

I hope this brings about some debate and conversation from all the readers. What's your take?

p.s. I'm probably on some "list" now :-)

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