Unlike cultural authoritarians and reactionaries, I don’t see language or speech as prescriptive for society — quite the opposite: language is an expression of society, a symptom if you like.
So when I find neologisms or new expressions I don’t particularly like, I don’t try to censor them; instead I use them to analyse society. Take, for example, “Islamism“:
Islamism, often referred to as “political Islam,” is the desire to impose a version of Islam on the rest of society.
So… how is Islamism any different than Islam? As far as I’m concerned, religion is political, all religion, Islam included, so defining anything as “political Islam” is redundant.
As for the desire to impose a version of their religion on the rest of society, that’s what most religions do (and why “religion of peace” is an oxymoron).
For example, we all can think of a politician who tries to poison public policy with his Christian beliefs, and, although it’s been suggested, we don’t need a special word for it. It’s a Christian trying to impose his brand of Christianity, and that’s Christianity —all Christianity— because that’s embedded in their doctrine. There’s no “Christianism” or any other politically correct neologism trying to set apart moderates from extremist (and that’s not our job, either!) or any other attempt to protect the feelings of Christians who disagree with their comrades.
So why the special treatment for Islam? For me, this is a reflection of the religious privilege Islam enjoys nowadays in society. “Islamism” along with “Islamophobia” are words that reflect how society has pandered to the religion of special needs.
I don’t like this fact, but it’s futile to deny it or to pretend that by having any of these terms censored reality will change — I know better, it’s the other way around (change society first and then language will follow suit) so the best I can do is avoid using those words and advocate we stop giving Islam special treatment.
We’ll see how this goes, but I’m not holding my breath.