Barack Obama and his administration erased meaningful metaphors and powerful language describing the “war on terrorism.” Words such as “jihadist,” and “radical Islam,” the plain speech of the George W. Bush years, were dropped as if something foul. In 2010. the National Security Strategy formally replaced the term “Islamic terrorism” with “violent extremism,” generalizing the threat and blurring the lens. “Terrorism” at Fort Hood, Texas, was reduced to “workplace violence,” despite evidence that the Muslim major who killed 13 and wounded 32 others had been counseled by an al-Qaida mentor.
Playing games with the language was intended to court the Muslim world, but it confuses anyone trying to make sense of the appeal of terrorism, and the theology (if theology it is) of radical Islam. We’re entitled to ask why this particular religion at this time so readily becomes a violent vehicle for a young man yearning for moral authority.