In the comments of Dr. Bertonneau’s most recent portion of his valuable series on TS Eliot, I wondered idly why the Powers decided that we ought to use “Muslim” in place of the traditional “Moslem”.…
Source: PC is Jizya – The Orthosphere
Words matter. Language has power. Courtesy and politeness is one thing; deference and – dare I say it? – submission is something else, as this essay explains. Why is it perceived as being so essential that we use “Muslim” instead of “Moslem”?
It is to “Otherize” our own historical culture and language — it is to co-opt you into “Otherizing” your own historical culture and language, by making it appear more “educated” to say “moos’-leem” rather than “moz-lem”.
It’s for the same reason that we are now enjoined to say “bay-zhing”, rather than “pee-king” — neither pronunciation of which begins to capture how the Chinese say the name of that city.
It’s for the same reason that we constantly witness talking heads dramatically pronouncing Spanish-derived names with a not-quite-Spanish pronunciation — just so long as they make it emphatically clear that they are not using an American pronunciation.
Similarly, many people know that Moslems object to the term “Mohammedan,” claiming that it implies that they worship Mohammed. But as this essay points out, while Christians worship Christ – because we believe He is the Incarnate Word of God – that is a somewhat unique situation. To use examples of my own, Wesleyans don’t worship John Wesley, Lutherans don’t worship Martin Luther, Calvinists (e.g., Presbyterians) don’t worship John Calvin, etc.: those groups are named as such because they follow the doctrines, ideas, and ideals promulgated by their founders.
Similarly, I think no Moslem would deny that not only do they believe Mohammed to be “the Prophet” of their religion, but also their personal role model and “ideal man,” whose teachings they follow, well, religiously! How, then, are they not “Mohammedans,” by traditional English usage of the term? As this essay accurately notes,
If this were not about power, then all we should have to do is explain that we sometimes use the names of founders of sects in the terms thereof, and our interlocutors should then say, “Oh, I see; OK, no problem then.” But if they are not willing to do this, then their insistence that we change our parochial behavior to suit them, despite the fact that their objection to our customary practice makes no sense, is, precisely, an exercise of power. It is the linguistic equivalent of their insistence that we not walk our dogs in parks where they are enjoying themselves, or exercise our right of free speech by evangelizing on the street in the vicinity of their public gatherings, or install footbaths in all public restrooms. If this goes on, then at some point, logically, they will be insisting that our women wear the burka, so as not to offend their sensibilities. I mention this absurd result only to demonstrate the absurdity of the premise from which it sprang.
But why does it matter? We’re just being polite, right? Well, most of us may believe we’re just being polite – and one thing we all want to be (and not without reason!) is polite, courteous, kind-hearted. The problem is that (as any abused spouse could tell you) there are times when that impulse can be used against you, becoming dangerous, debilitating, even disastrous. In the larger scheme of things, allowing others to dictate our use of language is not minor, or merely courtesy. It is, or can be, the pebble rolling down the mountain that starts a landslide; the trickle of water through a crack in the dam that presages total collapse:
The kowtowing over language is profoundly abject, with foreheads smashed against the floor repeatedly. For, what could be more essential to a people th an its language, which by its grammar, terms and usages conveys their whole philosophy and informs theirevery action? The language of a people expresses its logos. It is just this consideration that has driven the recent attempts to revive Flemish, Gaelic, and Welsh. It drove also the rebirth of Hebrew in Israel. These languages are being rebuilt as acts of political assertion by nations – by peoples with a common patrimony and birthright, and against all other nations. They are linguistic assertions of national existence, will, strength, determination not to be conquered.
(It is this, by the way, which is at the core of my repeated assertion, in a variety of fora over many years, that English should be, de jure as well as de facto, the official language of the United States of America – that is, exclusively used in all official / governmental documents, pronouncements, signs, etc., and why we should never have to “press 1 for English.” If we give it up, or even dilute it, we are surrendering to those who want to restructure and replace our history, our heritage, our culture, our very identity. It is not about being unkind to others; it is about being true to ourselves. It is not only to Islam that we can pay linguistic jizya!)
Dhimmitude – the condition or state of being a non-Moslem in a society dominated by Islam, and therefore subservient – is not a condition to be admired or desired in any way or for any reason. But when it is self-imposed, or willingly embraced, it is all the more sad and distressing. Paying what this essay calls, aptly, “linguistic jizya” is one form – and a very common one, these days – of this voluntary embrace of dhimmitude. We can do better, we of the West. We should do better. We must do better: for the sake of both our ancestors, who fought valiantly to avoid becoming slaves to Islam in centuries past, and our posterity, who will curse us for our stupidity and weakness if we allow this regressive, repressive ideology to become dominant.
As this essay enjoins us, “Let’s not capitulate. Let’s stick with the King’s English. It’s a tiny act of insurrection against Moloch. It’s so tiny, none of us will get in trouble for it. But it will keep the flame alive. It’s the very least we can do. And big things start small.”
Words matter. Language has power. Let us decline to pay the jizya.