The problems of the current Middle East extend beyond those “Islamic fascists” who proselytize a skewed, militant version of Islam. The present conflict includes secular Arab despots who flout the rule of law, violate human rights, and crush political dissent. ~Mohamed Eljahmi, NRO

This sums up the essence of exactly what is wrong with this dishonest label of Islamic fascisct/Islamofascist.  It presupposes jihadism is a “skewed” form of Islam, as if it were unrelated to “real” Islam.  That is a fundamental mistake in definition and will consequently muddle efforts to combat jihadis.  Furthermore, it appears obvious that in Mr. Eljahmi’s case the label serves as a way of pushing together all actors in the region that he or “we” are supposed to dislike, so all of sudden Islamists and Baathists are in it together (remember the last time we heard this absurd claim?) and we have to fight them as part of the same war against “Islamic fascism.”  It starts to become clear how some people understand the term.  It means: anybody and everybody in the Near East who doesn’t work for us.  In fact, that is too generous of a definition.  Under his definition, even Gadhafi qualifies as an Islamic fascist.  At that rate, President Bouteflika of Algeria might as well be included, too, so meaningless and arbitrary is the term’s application.

Surprisingly, Goldberg understands far more about this particular question than I ever thought he would (and this is not only because he happens to agree with my analysis of the flaws in the idea of thinking of jihadis as fascists), even going so far as to say:

It’s easy to argue Communism or Nazism were “alien ideologies,” it’s much more difficult to call “Islamism” an alien ideology to the Islamic world.

But he wouldn’t be Goldberg if he didn’t turn around accept the use of the term anyway, even though he just finished explaining why the term is wrong and misleading.  Oh well.

Andy McCarthy states it well:

Although I have used the term “Islamo-fascism,” I’ve never been comfortable with it. It’s a term used with much thought, but, like other similar terms — “radical Islam,” “militant Islam,” “political Islam,” “Islamism,” etc. — it conveniently allows us to dodge the question that begs answering: Is the terrorism we are dealing with globally a result of unadorned Islam?

Here is the problem: There is an interpretation of Islam that says everyone on earth must become a Muslim or submit to the authority of the Islamic state (meaning, pay the jizya tax and make one’s own freedom to worship subject to the regulatory whims of the Sharia authorities). This is to be brought about by jihad. Now, that is commonly called “Islamo-fascism” or “radical Islam” (among other things). But is it really fascist or radical? I don’t think so.

Bat Ye’or, not surprisingly, states the case as well as any I have seen:

However, unlike Fascism, Islamism is deeply imbedded in a jihadic ideology, with its legal framework of permanent war derived from religious scriptures, consolidated by a history of 13 centuries of warfare, conquests, and subjugation of infidels. Unlike fascism, all its references are religious, and its hatred targets equally Jews and non-Jews. Codified in 8th-century Islamic jurisprudence, Islamist warfare tactics conform exactly to a sharia-jihadic worldview, set in an enduring, theological pattern. Similarities with fascism emerge from a shared totalitarian mechanism, despite divergences in the two movements. Promoters of jihadism define their actions as a jihad, using its terminology and history. But they object to Westerners adopting this view negatively since for Muslims jihad represents the highest sacred duty in the path of Allah, and it is this positive interpretation of jihad that they want to impose on its victims. Being unfamiliar with jihad, Westerners do not understand that the fight against terror is against a 21th-century jihad and they do not realize the breadth of its scope and constituents.