05/14/2010 03:09 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Lamar Smith Wants Eric Holder To Say 'Radical Islam' Or He'll Cry

Fighting terrorism is hard. But for the Liz Cheney set, there can be no success in the War on Terror unless you are using the magical words! You must say, "war," for example -- in fact, preferably -- "WAAARRRRRR!" -- whilst stamping your itty-bitty feet and screwing up your face into a rictus of impotent, jelly-livered rage. Also, you apparently must always say, "radical Islam," or your counter-terror efforts just don't count, sorry! And so the wingnuts are going nuts over this video of Attorney General Eric Holder -- who wants to have adult discussions about important matters -- and Representative Lamar Smith (R-Tex.), whose only job is to exploit whatever free-floating anxiety he can find so he can keep his his ass in his Congressional seat and his itching, baby-soft palm outstretched.

Basically, Smith is on a mission: to get Eric Holder to use the words "radical Islam," because he thinks that you fight terrorists in the same way that you fight Rumplestiltzkin.


I'll readily admit, part of me sort of wishes that Holder would just recognize that he is speaking to a child, accede to his frivolous needs, burp him and then just move on. But it's understandable why Holder is unwilling to cast the entire matter as some epic religious clash -- a key component to counter-terror efforts is to continually marginalize the terrorist dead-enders from the larger Islamic community, with whom we have common cause. Smith would probably argue that the word "radical" does all of Holder's heavy lifting for him, but just try referring to the Hutaree terrorists as a "radical Christian group" (which they are!) and see what kind of complaints you get.

But beyond all that, what's most glaring about this whole matter is just how daft this all is. On that score, Steve Benen puts it better than I could:

But in particular, the interest in the Smith/Holder exchange is a reminder that for much of the right, rhetoric is more important than substance. The Obama administration has captured terrorists, prevented attacks, and struck at terrorists around the world, but that doesn't matter nearly as much as how they choose to describe the threat.

For the simple-minded, those who incorporate the word "Islam" are to be trusted; those who don't are not.

This is how right-wingers think you fight terrorism: by saying certain words that make right-wingers feel good as often as possible. Anyone want to explain why doing that for seven-plus years between 9/11 and Bush's last helicopter takeoff from the White House lawn didn't help us catch bin Laden and Zawahiri? Anyone want to explain why the Taliban is still in operation and spreading? Or why there are still insurgents in Iraq? Or why Ahmadinejad is still thriving? WHY DIDN'T YOUR FREAKING WORDS PREVENT ALL THAT? Why didn't saying ISLAMOFASCISM! RADICAL ISLAM! ISLAMOFASCISM! RADICAL IALAM! [sic] from 9/12/01 to 1/20/09 get the job done?

Meanwhile, you probably didn't hear about this, but earlier this week, a terrorist set off a pipe bomb at the Islamic Center of Northeast Florida in Jacksonville, while 60 people were inside. No one was hurt, because this particular terrorist was only slightly better at bombing than Faisal Shahzad was. The FBI is said to be following some "viable" leads.

I'm guessing that when this particular terrorist bomber is caught, no one in the world will suggest that he shouldn't be Mirandized, no one will insist that he be tried in a military court or tortured, and any mention of whatever sick religious beliefs served as the attack's motivating force will be met with a pearl-clutchy insistence that we not indict all followers of whatever faith is involved.

Until then, let's all clap our hands and yell "CRAZY CHRISTIAN TERRORIST" as loud as we can, so that law enforcement officials catch the perpetrator harder and faster.

SMITH VS. HOLDER [Washington Monthly]

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