Grasshopper Soup: Who are those people? |

Grasshopper Soup: Who are those people?

Bob Sweigert
Special to the Sun

President Barack Obama has requested that terms like Islamic terrorist and militant extremist be omitted from all national security documents. I assume that includes memos and water cooler conversations too. I have not heard any discussion as to why he insists on such a detailed control of the language. Reasonable speculation would conclude that such micro-managing is the result of a sincere desire to respect our enemies and to avoid offending them. But, personally, I see some flaws in the president’s logic.

I have been thinking about this for five days as I took a little trip to Sacramento and San Francisco to avoid the latest spring snow storm. In spite of what I must consider good reasons for Obama’s position on the issue, the whole thing just seems a bit naïve to me. If it is important to show respect for the religious and cultural views of the Taliban and Al Qaeda, then it would follow logically that our religious and cultural views should be tolerated and respected as well.

In their eyes, Al Qaeda and the Taliban are doing the right thing. They perceive us as the Great Satan, and one can see how they can make such an argument. All you have to do is turn on the TV or go see a few Hollywood movies to find something incredibly revolting, shallow and superficial about our society and culture.

But, if it so important to respect everyone’s cultural and social perceptions, why is it a no-no to express our perception of them? Shouldn’t we be extended the same courtesy?

So what do you call a militant Islamic extremist if you can’t call him a militant Islamic extremist? I am sure there is a good punch line in there somewhere. You can’t call him a violent Islamic terrorist either. You can’t even call him a sadistic religious fanatic. That doesn’t leave us much choice. Maybe the point is to call them worthy, noble opponents. There is an age-old tradition among warriors to do just that, so, I suppose Obama should be congratulated on his traditional warrior spirit.

I am not surprised by all the confusion. I can certainly understand the wisdom of not wanting to offend people who are more than inclined to cut off my fingers for reading Playboy magazine. And I certainly wouldn’t want to tick somebody off who considers it his divine duty to chop off my head for committing adultery either.

The whole situation reminds me of and#8220;What’s My Line?and#8221;, the old TV game show. Three people stand up in front of the contestant and all claim to be the same person. They would each say the same thing like, and#8220;Hi. My name is Virgil Fudnuk and I am a professional clam digger,and#8221; or and#8220;Hi. I am Shirley Hoot and I am an expert dog walker.and#8221; The contestants would have to figure out who was who.

If the White House is so concerned about not offending anyone, why don’t they insist that we stop calling Tea Party people racist, stop calling them Tim McVeigh wannabes and use the phrase and#8220;highly enlightened fellow freedom fightersand#8221; instead? Maybe Obama should also inspire us to refer to corporate greed as just an innocent game of Bingo. And maybe he should get us all to respect Republicans as well meaning people who just happen to think that destroying the environment and starving school children will only make us better.

Maybe terrorists are really misunderstood, progressive peacemakers. Maybe they are just all American, white Anglo-Saxon Protestant kids who just want to run away and join the circus. Maybe they are just shy, harmless, happy-go-lucky, neutral, easy going, open minded, closet Amish folk. Or maybe they are nice people just like us who happen to prefer violence, oppression, bodily mutilation and beheadings over mutual coexistence.

And they probably don’t give a darn what we call them.

Bob Sweigert is a Sierra Sun columnist, published poet, ski instructor and commercial driver. He’s lived at Lake Tahoe for 27 years.

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