Does language matter when it comes to describing terrorists? Many Republicans believe so, especially when it comes to whether or not President Obama uses the term "radical Islamic terrorists" or "radical Muslim terrorists" in describing the Islamic State group or the Los Angeles-area couple who may have been inspired by ISIS (or ISIL) before their rampage that left 14 people dead last week.
In his Sunday night speech, the president laid out his strategy for defeating the group, as well as a call for Congress to authorize the use of force against the group while linking people who appear on the no-fly terrorist list with gun purchase restrictions.
Obama said that the goal of ISIS was to provoke a battle between the United States and the Muslim world.
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"We can not turn against one other by letting this fight be defined as a war between America and Islam," Obama said. "That too is what groups like what ISIL wants. ISIL does not speak for Islam. They are thugs and killers. Part of a cult of death."
While these words certainly fit the bill for ISIS, they don't go far enough for GOP candidates like Donald Trump, who Monday called by the government to ban Muslims from entering the country, or Sen. Ted Cruz, who pledged last weekend to drop nuclear weapons on Syria.
"We will utterly destroy ISIS," Cruz said during a campaign stop in Iowa. "We will carpet-bomb them into oblivion. I don't know if sand can glow in the dark, but we're going to find out!"
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Many Republican candidates say President Obama needs to call out ISIS as a terrorist group that claims religion as its inspiration. Some experts agree.
"We need to define the enemy the way the enemy sees itself," said Jonathan Matusitz, associate professor of human communication and author of the book "Terrorism and Communication."
"The Islamic state calls itself a Islamic group. What I tell my students is that we are not fighting people, we are fighting an ideology. The only way to treat it is to say ‘let's call a spade a spade.' "
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The problem with linking religion and terrorism is that it paints all Muslims with the terrorist brush, according to George Lakoff, professor of linguistics at the University of California, Berkeley. These are peaceful Muslims who are needed in the war against ISIS.
"When you have a modifier, there are two different versions of the modifier," Lakoff said. "There are restrictive and non restrictive modifiers."
Take the example of the stereotype of the "industrious Japanese," he said.
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"It can either be referring to those Japanese who happen to be industrious, or a stereotype that all Japanese are industrious," Lakoff said.
"When you have Islamic terrorists, it can have the meaning of those terrorists who are Islamic. When you add the word radical, it assumes that you have radical islamists, not just just few who happen to be radical. Not just few who happen to be radical Muslims. What it does is have a meaning that can be interpreted that if you are a Muslim that you are a terrorist and you are radical. You don't want to be label them as terrorists. We need them to act against terrorism."
Media outlets reported earlier this year that the president and his administration have consistently avoided invoking Islam while describing the Islamic State and its followers, preferring to describe the organization's philosophy in non-religious terms such as "violent extremism." Obama also has called the Islamic State a "terrorist group" with a "twisted ideology."