Center for Strategic Communication

[ by Charles Cameron — a couple of nuances for a sometimes stubborn debate ]

Tim Furnish, who tweeted this about ten days ago, is of course not the only one to question the wisdom of a non-Muslim head of state fudging the issue of religion with respect to IS / Daesh — I’m using his tweet as a stand-in for the entire debate, and this post is offered as a contribution to that debate.

Here, I would just like to drop in two notes that will hopefully make for a more nuanced discussion of the pros and cons.


First, I recently ran across Anthony Flew‘s concept of the true Scotsman:

Imagine Hamish McDonald, a Scotsman, sitting down with his Glasgow Morning Herald and seeing an article about how the “Brighton [(England)] Sex Maniac Strikes Again”. Hamish is shocked and declares that “No Scotsman would do such a thing”. The next day he sits down to read his Glasgow Morning Herald again; and, this time, finds an article about an Aberdeen [(Scotland)] man whose brutal actions make the Brighton sex maniac seem almost gentlemanly. This fact shows that Hamish was wrong in his opinion but is he going to admit this? Not likely. This time he says, “No true Scotsman would do such a thing”.

That explains why a whole lot of Muslims are disinclined to call the islamic State “Islamic” — it may be a fallacy, but it’s a fallacy deeply interwoven with a sense of identity and honor.

My second point comes from Caner Dagli‘s piece in The Atlantic, The Phony Islam of ISIS:

The first thing I teach my undergraduates is that the English word “Islam” has two distinct but related meanings: the “Islam” that corresponds to Christendom (the civilization) and the “Islam” that corresponds to Christianity (the religion). The result is that the term “Islamic” has two separate but related uses, as does “unIslamic.”

It might be wise to bear these two distinctions in mind…