At the Washington Post there’s a good discussion set up by the introduction (indented lines below). The issue is do we link “terrorist” with one’s religion? That is, do we call someone an “Islamic” terrorist or does that impugn and malign all within that faith? Do we call the KKK “Christian” terrorists? 

I’ve thought about this one some myself but wonder what you think. Terrorists are zealots and they are inspired by mistaken beliefs, but we would do well to avoid giving them the pleasure of thinking they are doing so on the basis of their faith.

In its 2010 National Security Strategy, the Obama administration sought to sever the relationship between Islam and terrorism, rejecting the use of terms like ‘Islamic terrorist’ and ‘jihad’ to describe acts of terror.

The linguistic change was a policy shift from the Bush administration and part of Obama’s overall strategy to reinvent America’s relationship with the Muslim world.

But the policy change has its critics. On Monday, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy published a report rebuking the Obama administration’s approach, suggesting that the new strategy dangerously ignores the religious motivations of terrorists.

What should we call terrorists, some of whom claim to be motivated by their religion? Can one be an Islamic terrorist? What about a Christian terrorist? Does what we call terrorists matter?

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