September 25, 2006

Thanks, Peter, That’s Much Better

As longtime readers of this humble “weblog” well know, we, the crack young staff of “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” are big fans of The New Republic, America’s political and cultural journal for the sensible Left. To be sure, we have absolutely no idea what this magazine’s publishing schedule is, for the understandable reason that it appears with appalling irregularity in our mailbox. All the same, the folks at TNR routinely present thoughtful articles that shriller left-wing magazines eschew.

In fact, dear reader, we’ll go to some lengths to defend The New Republic. For instance, we didn’t think Lee Seigel’s “sock-puppet” antics on the TNR “website” were that big of a deal. We mean, come on: So Lee Seigel thinks that Lee Seigel is brilliant: Wow, alert the media. He must be the only public intellectual with a big ego.

Still, we would be remiss if we did not mention that the staff of TNR occasionally makes some real gaffes. The magazine’s principled support for aggressive intervention in Darfur, for example, is somewhat compromised by its hasty turn-about regarding the liberation of Iraq. If American soldiers start dying in Darfur, how do we know that TNR won’t change its mind again?

Sometimes the missteps of TNR staffers seem particularly troubling, since they sully authors’ otherwise good work. Take, for instance, Peter Beinart, a youngish bigwig at the magazine, who writes its weekly (?) “TRB” column. The quality of these pieces, dear reader, is infuriatingly various: One fortnight we’re praising Mr. Beinart’s acumen to the hilt; another we’re chucking his column across the room with disgust.

Nor are Mr. Beinart’s quizzical lapses confined to his columns. The September 24 number of The New York Times contains a boring article by one Sheryl Gay Stolberg, “ ‘Islamo-Fascism’ Has Its Moment.”

In this humdrum piece, Ms. Stolberg dips into the history of the term “Islamo-fascism,” informing us that both Christopher Hitchens and Muslim convert Stephen Schwartz claim the neologism as their invention. Then Ms. Stolberg, who notes the president’s previous use of the term, discusses various problems associated with it.

Naturally, Islamo-fascism is an imprecise—though delightfully pejorative—way to describe the enemies of Western civilization. Although it admirably sets the stakes high in the War on Terrorism, its reference to Fascism leaves a bit to be desired. (Why this should trouble our pals on the Left, however, who, taking much greater liberties, like to refer to the Bush administration as “fascistic,” is beyond us.)

But have no fear, dear reader: Ms. Stolberg reports that Peter Beinart has come up with far more apt nomenclature for our Islamist enemies. No longer must we play the dubious “Islamo-fascist” card. Mr. Beinart has solved the problem.

His idea? Well, it’s so rich that we’ll let Ms. Stolberg inform you:

Peter Beinart, the editor at large of The New Republic, has his own solution: “jihadi salafi,” which loosely translates to “someone who would use violence, and ultimately state violence, to bring about a utopian vision of Islam.” So what if no one knows what it means.

“If Bush had been using it all these years,” Mr. Beinart said, “people would know it like the back of their hand.”

Forgive us for our candor, but Mr. Beinart’s “solution” is dumb. “Jihadi salafi” is meaningless to a non-Muslim audience and its “loose translation”—if fully accurate—is cumbersome. Exactly how much fun would Bush-bashers from Middle Eastern Studies (Juan Cole and his minions) have with the president’s use of “jihadi salafi”? We can already see the columns now: “Bush doesn’t know what a ‘salafi’ really is,” &c.

Thanks for the attempt, Mr. Beinart, but we must say we prefer “Islamo-fascist” as our term of choice for Islamist terrorists. In fact, in comparison with your moronic idea, we’d even prefer “New York Giants” or “Phyllis Diller.”

Posted at September 25, 2006 12:01 AM | TrackBack