- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 12, 2007

In one of his very first acts as British prime minister, Gordon Brown prohibited his cabinet ministers from using the words “Muslim,” “Islam,” or “War on Terror” to describe a June 29 attempt to use Mercedes-Benzes to spray blazing gasoline and red-hot nails onto pedestrians in Central London. The day after this failed effort, a Jeep Cherokee caught fire and soon ignited a Scottish airport concourse.

“There is clearly a need to strike a consensual tone in relation to all communities across the UK,” Mr. Brown’s spokesman told the Daily Express. “It is important that the country remains united.” Mr. Brown followed his own edict and used none of these verboten words in a July 1 BBC-TV interview.

“Let us be clear — terrorists are criminals, whose victims come from all walks of life, communities and religions,” Mr. Brown’s new home secretary, Jacqui Smith, told fellow members of Parliament. “Terrorists attack the values shared by all law-abiding citizens. As a government, as communities, as individuals, we need to ensure that the message of the terrorists is rejected.”

Good going, Jacqui. If Scotland Yard remains as inquisitive as ever, it will aim its magnifying glasses at Anglican Church basements around Great Britain. Those spots are perfect for bomb-making. Catholic confessionals? God only knows what happens in those places. Synagogues also should be under constant surveillance. The rampant, hideous, anti-Semitic acts attributed to “Muslim terrorists” (please forgive the expression) actually might be self-directed attacks perpetrated by self-hating Jews. And while they’re at it, Her majesty’s sleuths should spend plenty of time in British pubs, searching for militant alcoholics.

In order to escape the eternal vigilance of the just-ended Tony Blair years and move headfirst into the kinder, gentler Gordon Brown era, the following phrases might help advance this new thinking: Rather than call it “The War on Terror,” refer instead to the “The Dispute over Anxiety.” “Radical Muslim terrorism” is passe. Instead, focus on “Deeply held, true-believers’ self-defense syndrome.” As for “car bombs,” refrain from stigmatizing either car owners or bomb-makers. Both groups are entitled to their views. So, call these implements “Dynamic, motor-vehicle-based, physical-environment-rearrangement devices.”

As occurred on June 30, gasoline bombs — er, dynamic, physical-environment-rearrangement devices — were used to ignite Glasgow airport’s passenger terminal. So as neither to offend those who like gasoline and explosives nor disturb the flying public, consider this recent inconvenience the “aviation-facilities sudden-heating-and-scorching episode.”

Mr. Brown’s policy warmly recalls the advice that English songwriter Noel Coward offered his countrymen in 1943, as they stayed busy fighting the Nazis: “Don’t let’s be beastly to the Germans

“When the age of peace and plenty has begun.

“We must send them steel and oil and coal and everything they need

“For their peaceable intentions can be always guaranteed.

“Let’s employ with them a sort of ‘strength through joy’ with them,

“They’re better than us at honest manly fun.

“Let’s let them feel they’re swell again and bomb us all to hell again,

“But don’t let’s be beastly to the Hun.”

Mr. Brown is right. With a little creativity, intelligent people can discuss the news in a way that leaves everyone calm, happy and delightfully out of touch with the world’s most urgent, troubling challenge.

Story Continues →