'They Say/We Say' by Bosch Fawstin
The Liberal Institute

They Say/We Say

They say "Islam." We say "Islamic fundamentalism."

They say "Islam." We say "Islamic extremism."

They say "Islam." We say "totalitarian Islam."

They say "Islam." We say "salafist Islam."

They say "Islam." We say "political Islam."

They say "Islam." We say "Islamofascism."

They say "Islam." We say "Bin Laudenism."

They say "Islam." We say "Islamonazism."

They say "Islam." We say "radical Islam."

They say "Islam." We say "Islamism."

They say "Islam." We say "jihadism."

And until we say Islam, we will continue respecting evil in the name of good. We will continue giving the benefit of the doubt to something that's never, ever earned an ounce of it. Listen to the Ex-Muslims like Wafa Sultan, Ibn Warraq, Ayan Hirsi Ali, Ali Sina, etc. They left the faith, but not the battle, and they say Islam. They understand it first hand, they suffered under it, and they suffer today for telling the truth about it. And their first hand knowledge of all things Islam should make those who truly don't know Islam pause before mouthing off about it, for they will invariably get it wrong in the name of something other than the truth.

The beginning of the end of this war will be when we are no longer afraid to name their evil by its name, Islam. Radical Nazism, Extremist Communism, Totalitarian Fascism, we never heard these terms, because each, like Islam, was another name for evil. But unlike these evil ideologies, Islam is accepted as a religion and with that comes all kinds of blinders, and not only from those who are religious.

We are respecting evil in the name of tolerance, and in the name of "1.4 billion Muslims," and in the name of lies. But it is evil that we are showing respect to by not calling it by its name. Its name is Islam and if enough of us call it out, it will be the beginning of the end of its evil, no matter if '1.4 billion' Muslims have the collective fit of all time. We will remind them that there are 5 billion non-Muslims who want to remain as we are.

All of the terms besides Islam help Islam, in that they suggest that Islam is good, but all of these other Islams are bad. Many Westerners have their own, personal terms for Islam which makes our fight so much harder since we're not unified under one term like the Muslims are with Islam. Objectivist leader Yaron Brook calls it Totalitarian Islam, which suggests that there is a non-Totalitarian Islam. Middle Eastern expert Daniel Pipes calls it Radical Islam, which suggests that there's a non-radical Islam. Military expert John Lewis calls it Political Islam, but there's no such thing as an apolitical Islam. And then there are the truly pathetic ones like columnist Michael Medved's IslamoNazism. Islam was here a thousand years before last centuries' great evils, it's one of the great evils of mankind's history, but we can't seem to accept that, or deal with Islam by its own terminology without imposing our own, all to avoid calling Islam Islam. If Muslims were to ever detonate a nuke in a major Western city, the fallout would include all of these false terms, and we'd finally call it Islam. What would be different about Islam if that were to happen? Nothing. It's we that would have finally accepted its evil and be ready to call it by its rightful name.

No one who has used terms other than Islam to describe Islam has been able to distinguish between Islam and their personal idea of Islam. It's a matter of life or death for us to do so, no matter that we don't fully appreciate that today. Calling evil by its name is the first step to defeating it.

Until we call Islam Islam, it will be off the hook it has always deserved to be on. Islam is totalitarian, but calling it "Totalitarian Islam" tacitly suggests that there's a non-totalitarian Islam. Those who don't know Islam will read your "Islamofascism" and Yaron's "Totalitarian Islam" as deviant forms of Islam, which only helps Islam and hurts us. They all call it Islam, we must all call it Islam, no matter our desire to create a Western distinction that doesn't exist. When people refer to an interpretation of Islam as the problem, I reply that it is an interpretation of Islam, Mohammed's interpretation.

BOSCH FAWSTIN is a cartoonist, and the author of the award-winning graphic novel Table For One.
He has a new graphic novel about Islam coming out in February of 2009.

(for an interesting discussion of this essay and adapted political cartoon go here)