Diana West

Question: What's the best thing that has happened recently in the so-called war on terror?
Hint No. 1: It wasn't the White House's decision to re-brand the "war on terror" as the "struggle against violent extremism."

"War" makes "you think of people in uniform as being the solution," said the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who, as the head man in uniform, has just opted himself into obsolescence. True or not, I don't get why a uniformed solution is necessarily a bad thing -- if, that is, the goal is to beat whatever you're fighting. OK, so the administration says it wants to emphasize the ideological aspect of our efforts. But is "extremism" a bona fide ideology? Or is "extremism" another woolly term that PC-afflicted leaders and pundits pull over everyone's eyes to hide the uniquely Islamic sources of the violent extremism the general says we struggle against?

 Hint No. 2: It wasn't the so-called fatwa against terrorism issued by the Fiqh Council of North America and ballyhooed by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). Despite the PC cheers, this fatwa failed to define "terrorism" and "civilian" -- two key terms that other Islamic rulings have interpreted to sanction the killing of Americans and Israelis. Given the two sponsoring groups' links to terrorist organizations (see Steven Emerson's summary online at The Counterterrorism Blog), it's worth wondering whether their fatwa applied, for example, to "terrorism" against "civilians" fomented by Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

But getting back to the best thing that's happened of late: Maybe all the sidestepping euphemisms, from "struggle" to "fatwa," don't matter as much any more. Elites on the left and on the right, in the government and in the media, can persist in their PC babble, all of which seems to translate to "Better Dead Than Rude" (a slogan attributed to John Derbyshire). But maybe some people -- the ones Ronald Reagan always trusted and Abraham Lincoln said you couldn't always fool -- are starting to figure things out, and without the help of elites. There is intriguing anecdotal evidence that non-pol, non-pundit citizens are looking for the kind of debate that is beyond the ken of the most prominent officials and journalists.

I say this in light of two very separate incidents -- and, more specifically, the reaction to them.

Diana West

Diana West is the author of American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation's Character (St. Martin's Press, 2013), and The Death of the Grown-Up: How America's Arrested Development Is Bringing Down Western Civilization (St. Martin's Press, 2007).