LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- The term "politically correct" is defined by The American Heritage Dictionary thus: "Of, relating to, or supporting broad social, political, and educational change, especially to redress historical injustices in matters such as race, class, gender, and sexual orientation." Add to that litany of "historical injustices" the title of my New York Times best-seller: "American Heroes in the Fight Against Radical Islam."
In recent weeks, the vocabulary police opened a new front in the war on terror by issuing a list of do's and don'ts for terrorism terminology. In an effort to fight a kinder, gentler war on Islamic radicals, the Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties at the Department of Homeland Security, in consultation with unnamed Islamic interest groups, has issued a paper titled "Terminology to Define the Terrorists: Recommendations From American Muslims."
This policy document warns U.S. government officials against "using theological terms, particularly those in Arabic, even if such usage is benign or overtly positive. Islamic law and terms come with a particular context, which may not always be apparent." The paper goes on to counsel: "It is one thing for a Muslim leader to use a particular term; an American official may simply not have the religious authority to be taken seriously, even when using terms appropriately." In other words, we infidels have no street cred in the Islamic world.
We are told that we should no longer use words and phrases such as "jihadist," "Islamic terrorist" or "Islamist." Using the word "Islamic," the experts have advised us, may "concede the terrorists' claim that they are legitimate adherents of Islam."
At best, this advice is seriously flawed. At worst, it is an ominous recipe that invites defeat, for it begs us to ignore the identity of those who have declared war against the West in general -- and the U.S. in particular. The authors urge us to disregard the first axiom of war: If you don't know your enemy, you will lose.
In an interview for Fox News' "War Stories," Bernard Lewis (the dean of Mideast scholars) contrasted the way we fought fascism during World War II with the current conflict: "Then we knew who the enemy was. We knew who we were. Nowadays we have great difficulty in defining the enemy. We have to be careful not to offend anybody. We don't even seem to be able to define our own cause, let alone the enemy's. This kind of uncertainty makes it very difficult to carry on any sort of struggle."
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.