Leadership and Phobia

Academic Public Administration Studies

Leadership and Phobia

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Title: Leadership and Phobia
Author: Dawoody, Alexander
Abstract: Language matters. Words matter. If we use our language properly we can use our action and efforts more properly. There is nothing more profound and powerful than thoughts and words. If we use language as a tool for positive reflection and thought process then we are embracing an overall dynamic that is positive and constructive. However, if we use language for insulting or demeaning others then we are losing our effectiveness as positive agents of change and progress. In using phrases such as “Islamofascism,” for example in the expression of our policy to fight terror, we are, in effect, misrepresenting our own democratic ideals by considering the beliefs of more than one billion Muslims in the world as the source of violence. Such a misuse of language is ineffective in isolating and fighting extremists engaged in acts of terror. It can also serve as a recruitment tool by extremists to manipulate sentiments and advance their own political agenda. Such a terminology does portray our war on terror as a war on Islam and presents us as a paranoid force that is incapable of distinguishing between isolated terrorist groups and a true faith. On June 4, 2009, President Obama addressed the Muslim people from Al-Azhar University in Cairo. In his speech, the president set a new tone for emphasizing the proper use of language and symbolism in opening new arenas for dialogue and interconnectedness. He refrained from using terminology such “Islamofascism” or portraying the religion of Islam itself as a source of violence. He also abstained from using the phrase of “the War on Terror” all together and concentrated instead on identifying extremism as the common enemy of both Muslims and non-Muslims, while paying tribute to Islam as a true faith and an engine that contributed to human civilization. Such a shift in the use of language in expressing a public policy is a departure from the previous linguistic terms that created unnecessary tensions and drifts between many Muslims and the U.S. government. In conducting this research, I will be examining the significance of misusing language in fighting terrorism. This examination will qualitatively analyze the impact of categorizing the world according to “us versus them” and shifting the blame toward Islam as a fascist ideology in order to justify a particular public policy. The significance of the research lays in its assessment of the linguistic expression of the policy of fighting terrorism in the post September 11 era and the impact of such expression on the success and effectiveness of the policy. The examination will differentiate between the influence of the proper use of language as adopted by the Obama Administration and the inflamed use of language as practiced previously.
Description: Presented in a panel at the American Political Science Association (APSA) National Conference San Jose, CA April 19-21, 2010
URI: http://www.apas.admpubl.snspa.ro/handle/2010/233
Date: 2010-07-20


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