Islamo-Fascism. The latest talking point issued from the Bush administration, something straight out of "Triumph of the Will." This isn't exactly the most timely response (well, nothing on this blog has been especially timely of late), but I hope to address the issue in a manner that has not yet been covered by the mainstream media.
Consider for a moment, what is the point of making the painfully consicous effort to parade about a "new and improved" phrase such as "Islamo-Fascism"?? Is it more descriptive, something new and helpfull in the public understanding of Salafi Jihadism (because an understanding of that phrase, however accurate, requires a greater attention span than can be realistically expected of "the public" at this point)? The phrase's proponents would certainly like to suggest that this new phrase has some greater explanatory power. But therein lies the falacy of "Islamo-Fascism."
Put simply, this is classical symbolic translation, something that I have discussed with regard to American "Patriotism" in Love Your Nation-State. Basically, some agreed upon "good" quality of a nation, such as freedom, is associated with a symbol, such as a flag. Then, through symbolic translation, the flag can now be held up as a substitute for some underlying, actual freedom, and the actual freedom can be conveniently dispensed with. "Islamo-Fascism" is similar in many respects. "Fascism," as a word reminiscent of a mythology (mostly, admittedly, quite deserved) that has been built up in popular culture about war-time attrocities and abuses of Hittler's Germany, is a symbol to which much negative sentiment has been effectively attached. This symbol, when attached to the modifier "Islamo-" serves to attach that negative sentiment to a current enemy.
This much is rather obvious, but the logical fallacy that seems to be passing unseen is that the new term Islamo-Fascism ONLY expands upon our existing understanding ofSalafi Jihadism to the extent that the former FALSELY attributes characteristics to the latter. To the degree that the public can be educated about the attrocities and abuses of Salafi Jihadists, and hence to the extent that the new label is accurate, they have already incorporated understanding of those abuses and attrocities into their understanding of the Jihadist phenomenon before the addition of the new symbolic language. Therefore, the only value added by the actual articulation of this new "Islamo-Fascism" label is falsity--it is the association in the public perception of attributes and attrocities of Nazi Fascists that are in fact not accurate when attributed to Salafi Jihadists. And it is in that sense that labels such as "Islamo-Fascism" are the purest of propaganda--they serve no purpose but deception. Leni Riefenstahl would be proud.