Doing my usual news-consumption today, and I'm saddened to see that the Linguistics of War are making progress from the pools of online extreemism (e.g. LGF's comments section), through the "fair and balanced" filter of the NewsCorp networks and into the center of the journalistic zeitgeist. I've been seeing more and more words like "Islamist" appearing in the NYT and other publications usually considered to be on the upper-end of what passes for journalistic duty these days.
I find this sort of thing troubling because it signals that the propaganda of the War Party, their information warfare, is beginning to take hold. The first step to prosecuting a successful war is the demonization of the enemy. Pro-war people must avoid thinking of the Others as human beings at all costs, lest their zeal for their cause and their resolve to use brutal force in achieving their ends begin to waver. I believe ultimately that the adhesive nature of humanity is stronger than the corrupting nature of power. However, there are thousands of years worth of inequality to overcome, and calling each other names pushes us all in the wrong direction.
Why not use "angry, righteous, power-hungry strictly religious people who are sick and tired of being marginalized and are willing to support violence in the pursuit of what they think is right" instead of "islamist"? I realize the necessity of shorthand, but the process of creating these terms runs the risk of de-humanizing people, which paves the way for wontonly snuffing out their lives. So keep a close eye out for Combat Semantics.