Analysis & Opinions - The Washington Post

The Military Has a White-power Problem

| Mar. 08, 2019

It wasn't long ago that the question of what to call Islamic State-inspired terrorists turned Democrats into verbal gymnasts. The term "radical Islamic terrorists" was shunned by those who feared that it too easily vilified a religion and was too likely to alienate our Muslim allies in the fight against global terrorism. In the Barack Obama years, we were often compelled to use words such as "violent extremism" instead, though the very vagueness of the phrase risked muting the necessary actions needed to counter the threat from those using violence in the name of Islam. It was, from a personal perspective, an exhausting exercise.

As the 2016 election approached, then-candidate Donald Trump weaponized this habit and drove it home. "These are radical Islamic terrorists, and she won't even mention the word, and nor will President Obama," he said, referring to Hillary Clinton at a presidential debate in October 2016. "Now, to solve a problem, you have to be able to state what the problem is, or at least say the name."

Calling an ideology out for what animates it gives clarity to the public. It allows the public to see the threat as a trend rather than an aberration....

For more information on this publication: Please contact the Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Kayyem, Juliette.“The Military Has a White-power Problem.” The Washington Post, March 8, 2019.

The Author

Juliette Kayyem