- The Washington Times - Friday, September 1, 2006

This newspaper has printed the words “Islamic fascism” or the variant “Islamofascism” more than 100 times since 2001, so we think we’re in a good position to tell Democratic critics and Professor Stephen Wayne of Georgetown University that it’s not some focus-grouped buzzword. The term “Islamic fascism” describes a political reality.

The cynical claim at present is that the White House “probably had a focus group and they found the world ‘fascist.’ ” Actually, no.

On July 20, 2001, our former religion editor, Larry Witham, interviewed the Muslim scholar who is sometimes credited with inventing the term. Daring to question hardline Islam, the German-born Khalid Duran told The Washington Times that Islamism is really “Islamofascism” because it seeks to impose a forceful religious orthodoxy on the state and the citizenry. Use of the term has mushroomed ever since. It’s easy to see why. It describes a real phenomenon.

But assuming for a moment that all this talk of Islamic fascism is some cynical Republican public-relations ploy, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman must be in on the action. In 2002, he referred to “the Islamic fascism of Osama bin Laden” in an opinion piece on Iran. Also count Robert Wistrich, who holds the Neuberger chair for Modern European History at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His evident cynicism led him to pen the essay “The New Islamic Fascism” in the journal Partisan Review in 2001, ostensibly to give the term some academic currency. Even the Brookings Institution’s Michael O’Hanlon must be an honorary collaborator; he recently told reporters that while he does not wholly buy into the term’s usage, he thinks it “calls attention to the Islamic quality of the movement.” This is some conspiracy.

It’s incredible the depths to which ideologues stoop to prevent accurate language from taking hold. Here’s the incorrigible Juan Cole doing his best recently: “Linking Islam… with a pejorative term such as fascism is extremely unfair,” he told NPR. “In fact, it is a form of racism.”

But then, these same critics seem to think it’s perfectly fine for Dick Durbin, Illinois Democrat, to compare U.S. soldiers guarding detainees at Guantanamo to Nazis. Do they really think it’s alright to compare American soldiers to Nazis, but not terrorist fanatics?

The terms Islamic fascism and Islamofascism are here to stay. They describe an actual political phenomenon, like it or not.