"Islamofacsism" -- why I don't use the word anymore

In the period between 9/11 and the Iraq war, the word "Islamofascism" seemed to be a useful word -- a single word that described the anti-liberal current in some of the visible Islamic movements around the world.

But then, the War in Iraq actually happened, and then Iraq actually and really began to disintegrate into a Civil War. Most of the forces fighting against each other in Iraq could have been, or are right now, designated as "Islamofascist," including the Sunni Insurgents, the Shiite militias, the "foreign fighters", the Baathist "dead-enders." The reality of the Iraqi Civil War demonstrated that the word "Islamofascism" does not describe anything that actually exists in the real world.

Of course, there are anti-liberal and anti-modern ideas in some currents of Islam, and yes, there are some Islamic political actors who have totalitarian agendas.

Would that those who argued that "9/11 changed everything" would also recognize the outcome of the US Invasion of Iraq changes everything as well. (In a world in change is constant, does any assertion that a single event changes everything make any sense at all?)

Reality shreds the language that we create to describe it, which is why that accurately describing what it really going on right now is the hardest work of all.


  1. "Islamofascism" hit a nerve for me when it came into use, and still does now.., thanks for opening the conversation.

    It's tempting to work at a singular explanation, as if only one thing, or one consistent string of things could describe "what is really going on." In fact, there are things that happen within a singular, consistent framework and there are far more things that act on each other that hadn't intended to (not really random, but perhaps unthinking), so that one only can approach "what really happened" in hindsight. Here, I see us in the midst of a Hebrew scripture-like epic, where you have to keep reading the geneaology to know the real spiritual and moral results of the actions of this generation.

    Especially in our imperialist culture, which fancies itself to be above reproach and all those that are "foreign" to be less civilized, it's important not to get caught up in the exceptionalism that leads us to believe we (and no one else) have an ability to understand and explain the motivations for others' actions, the rightness of our own actions in response, and what they will all mean when it comes time to write the history books.


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